30-Day Track-Everything Challenge: Week 1

We’re well into the second week of our Track Everything Challenge, so it’s time to check in and find out how our team is faring with this month’s budgeting task.

Here’s what they had to say:

Liz Falconer, Account Planner at Stnce, started the Challenge with the hope of figuring out where her money was going and seeing spending patterns. She kept track by using a note on her phone that included the date plus how much and the item.

I also liked that this month’s challenge isn’t about taking things away – it’s about thinking twice.

“I wanted to join the Challenge because I felt it was a good way to keep track of my spending without depriving myself of anything. The previous No-Spend Challenge was a little daunting for me. So, when this one came out, I thought I could give it a chance to see where my money was going. Of course, I had an idea, but I figured it would mean more to me to see it in black and white.

I also liked that this month’s challenge isn’t about taking things away – it’s about thinking twice. Very early on I saw patterns, and after I added things up, I thought, wow, I spend more than I thought I did. Being able to look at the numbers in a list definitely woke me up. I realized that I don’t need to be shaken up by someone else to assess where my money is going. I can face it myself.

I got used to keeping track of my spending right away by just being more conscious of my routine. In today’s society, we have access to so much information to help us do things like this, which for me, there was no excuse to forget. It takes two seconds to say, okay, I just spent $5 on a coffee, I’m going to jot it down. An excuse I hear a lot from the people around me is ‘I don’t have the time.’ But you do! You just have to prioritize your finances. If you have time to flash that debit card, you have to make time to hold yourself accountable. You owe to yourself and future you.

I discovered that I was spending a lot on food and meal planning (or a lack thereof). And most of it traced back to my undeniable coffee habit. The solution has not been easy, but I’m trying to buy less expensive coffee and scale back on frequency. Realistic goal setting has also been key to making good progress. I know myself, and when I’m rushing in the morning, there is no way I’m going to make a cup of coffee before I leave the house. So, instead of getting several cups a day, I’ve paced it out. Lunch is a whole other story. I often find myself saying, ‘There’s no excuse for not taking five minutes to pack my lunch. It would save me so much over a month.’ But then when the day comes, I end up going out. I need a better game plan. The good thing about this challenge is, I’m not asking myself to change my habits immediately, so I have some time to think about it.

I stopped tracking after my early discovery because coffee and lunch are habits that are going to take some time to change before I can move on. But I think I could easily go back and continue. I’d probably start tracking my spending again because it’d be nice to see end-of-the month numbers. I know I can do it. If I can scale back on coffee, I can do it for other things too. It’s just a matter of deciding when to start.

I also realized that some of my spending habits had been normalized by the “treat yourself” culture. I can name all the reasons why I deserved to go for the expensive coffee, deluxe lunch, and new pair of shoes. And all of them are completely emotional. Going forward, I’d like to rewire my brain to think, treat yourself to a better retirement.”

Justus, a Motion Graphics Designer, heard about the Challenge through a Stnce team member and decided to take it on. He kept track of his spending by downloading an app.

Here’s his response:

 

What did you use?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did it change your spending habits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you find the reminders helpful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marie, Marketing Manager at Stnce, is our dynamical Challenge taker. Fresh out of Challenge 1, she stepped right into our second one because keeping track of her spending is already something she does.

“I’ve always used a spreadsheet to keep track of my spending. It just keeps my mind organized. I also frequently log into my online bank account to check my spending for the week. The same goes for credit card statements. This month, I didn’t make very many transactions. I was out of the office, so a lot of the purchases were expenses. Plus, I’m still inspired by our February No-Spend Challenge, so my habits have continued to be more frugal. So far, there hasn’t been any significant surprises for me. Tracking my spending was reasonably painless. But it might change as the month continues. For the first couple of days, I did go a little crazy and ate out a lot after not being able to spend for 30 days. But other than that, it’s been easy.

Still, I’d like to go back a couple of months and review all the transactions I’ve made since January. I’d like to compare my spending habits from one challenge to the next – January being the only month where I wasn’t cognizant of it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a better understanding of what I can realistically achieve, spending-wise, for the long term.”