For a large portion of my adult life, I have tracked nearly every penny I’ve spent.
I’ve got oodles of scraps of paper that, when assembled, could probably tell you exactly how much I’ve spent on toilet paper in the last three years.
Tracking every penny we spent helped us stay focused on our goals to get rid of our debt and to save towards retirement.
And while I find it interesting (yeah, I’m geeky like that) to compare one month to the next, I was suffering from budget fatigue. Our spending doesn’t change much from month to month, and when it does, there’s usually a good explanation for it and we’re able to correct our course quickly.
Keeping track of every cent just became a chore. The time spent to track everything began to outweigh the benefits of the tracking.
When I read Why I No Longer Track Every Penny at Get Rich Slowly, it really got me thinking:
Does it matter that I don’t track every penny as long as I’m living within my means?
We have an emergency fund and we’re saving toward retirement. The only debt we have is our mortgage. As long as I’m staying true to the frugal principles of living within our means, the extra paperwork isn’t necessary.
Instead, I’m working harder at automating our savings on the front end. If I don’t see the money in my checking, I’ll be less likely to spend it. Save first, then play with the money that’s leftover.
I know that if I feel like our budget is slipping – if I dip into our savings once too often or am tempted to put something on plastic – I can easily go back to tracking our expenditures to put us back on track.
But for now, I’m enjoying our freedom from tracking.
What do you think? Do you track every penny you spend?