In the battle against spending the biggest enemy is temptation and your only ally is your willpower which, let’s face it, has a tendency to wimp out at the last minute. Sometimes, to win a losing fight, you need to get creative so when a friend said she tracked every cent she spent, I figured I’d give it a go too. And I did… for 6 long months.
I set up a spreadsheet in Excel
..and set about recording every single thing I spent money on, from the monthly rent to the banana I bought on the way to work. I was vigilant; no cent would escape my notice! But did it work? Well, yeah, actually it did!
At first glance
I wouldn’t have believed that the simple act of writing things down would be an incentive to spend less, but after the initial shock of what a spendthrift I was ($91 on underwear I didn’t even need, what the…?). I started to get a little thrill on the days when I didn’t buy anything unnecessary and after a month or so of tracking but what was really interesting was that I noticed I was buying something at least every day. Little things, mostly groceries, but I could do without them and all of a sudden, now, there was a reason to cut back!
The reason so many of us get away with sneaky spending
Is that there’s no-one there to see it. Only we know we’re breaking our budget and we tell ourselves sweet little lies to hide it from ourselves. “Oh, but I need some more hair product”, or, “I feel like Mexican tonight, we’ll just have that other food another night”. We then conveniently forget all about it in a mass case of financial amnesia and can’t understand why we still seem to be out of pocket!
Well, if you’re anything like me
(slightly obsessive compulsive and in constant need of approval) you may just benefit from writing all your spending down too. Once the facts were there in front of me in black Times New Roman, there was no arguing with the truth. Rather than lying, instead, I started trying to impress the authoritative aspect of myself seeing how little I could spend and very quickly I realised with a little extra willpower, I could out-cheap myself easily.
Sometimes in the fight to control ourselves, we need to get creative and if appealing to a disciplinarian side of your psyche works, then I say run with it! I don’t need to record everything I spend anymore but I know if things get out of control, I can always call on my stricter side to pull me back in to line.