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?
i used to track every penny but once i started using mint i relaxed about it. i set my monthly budget at about 75% of my after tax income and as long as i’m close to that i don’t worry about it too much.
I used to (despite the odd looks that I would get requesting a receipt if the Starbucks cashier didn’t automatically hand me one), but I’ve gotten more relaxed about it recently. A couple pennies/bucks here and there isn’t going to break the bank. Relatedly, lately I feel more comfortable splurging for rare special occasions; a friend just left her job, and we went out for a night on the town to mark the occasion. Strictly speaking, the festivities weren’t in the budget, but that’s okay. A long as I stick to the budget in general, it’s going to be just fine.
I used to be obsessive about tracking every penny. I used microsoft money and I loved it. Then the computer broke and I went for a couple of months without the program and all hope was lost. It’s probably been about 2 years since I tracked money, and I am just starting to get back into it over the last couple of months. However I don’t like any of the new budgeting programs so I’ve just been using excel worksheet to track and analyze everything. Within 2 months my hubby and I were on track, under budget, and out of our wedding debt. I think it’s best for us to see exactly where the money is going so we can stay on the right track.
I dont track my spending and I dont have a budget. I just spend wisely and save what I can and know that I’m doing a good job and living well within my means. Thats good enough for me! I tracked all the coupons I used in April and even that was too much work for me.
I know what you mean! Sometimes I get so caught up in the details of budgeting that it becomes unproductive and not worth my time. I do, however, still keep all receipts–that practice alone has saved us enough money to make it worth it.
novatedlease calculator says
Tracking is basically your managing tool of over your finances. But the idea of counting every cents can really push you to stress considering a very detailed method of listing all your money affairs. Not only it takes time but also the effort and emotional focus. Living in control of your means does not always carry a tracking task. Taking control of your expenses through a dignified attitude is a simple yet effective way.