Start a Money Diary if You’re Serious about Making Changes
Be ready to face reality
Reading a book is a profound experience, especially if you put lessons from it into practice.
Recently, I finished Refinery29 Money Diaries: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Your Finances… And Everyone Else’s by Lindsey Stanberry.
I learned many valuable lessons about money but the most compelling was completing a money diary over the last week, which was one of the sections of the book. Basically, you’re asked to write down all of your expenditures over the week with insight into your spending.
From May 13–19, I spent a total of $1,122.81. Here was the breakdown: $944.77 (credit card and parent student loan debt), gifts $60.12, gas $28.43, groceries $29.70, and miscellaneous $59.79.
I took $620 out of my savings account so I could pay off my credit card and have a fresh start. When I got paid, I immediately put $75 back into savings. I also paid $324.77 to student loan debt, which is a monthly payment.
I took out $100 cash to be used over a two week period. The first week I used it toward gas and groceries and that equalled $58.13, so I have $41.87 to get me through the next week.
While it was important for me to keep track of my expenditures, I also looked for ways to cut costs.
In addition to tracking expenses for the week, I also decided to figure out where I could cut back and save. I decided to cancel the following subscriptions: Calm app ($60 due to come out in August), Beachbody on Demand ($99 due to come out in December), 750words ($5 a month), and Amazon Prime ($13.70 a month). Overall, I will save $383.40 over the next year ($33.33 a month).
This week I also cut out an appointment with my chiropractor ($45), a nail appointment ($40, including tip), and used a gift card to buy Starbucks drinks for my husband and me ($10). So that was an added savings of $95 for the week.
Why am I doing it?
It’s important for me to cut back, because I made a career pivot. I went from a $70,000 yearly salary as an educator with 25+ years of experience and two masters degrees to relative uncertainty. I decided to give my writing a better chance to thrive by devoting more time to it. To have some regular income stream, I got hired as a spa receptionist so that I can cover my half of our household bills.
While it’s too early to know what income I’m going to earn as a writer, I finally independently published my first collection of essays on intentional living through simplicity and positive vibes. It’s called Slices of Life from the Little Blue Desk. I have also been contributing more writing to publications here on Medium and earning money through the Medium Partner Program, increasing the number of subscribers to my weekly newsletter GTI Wednesday, increasing the traffic to my website Everyday Life Uncluttered, and have been more visible on social media.
If you’re serious about making changes with respect to your money mindset, here’s how to get started.
- Get a notebook and put it in a place that is readily available at any given time. Mine is on the kitchen bar where I see it everyday.
- Get a pen and two highlighters. One is to highlight money going out and the other is to highlight money saved either by directly saving, selling stuff, or canceling subscriptions.
- As you spend, keep receipts so that when you get home you can write down what you spent. Don’t just put the amount but also what you specifically bought, why you bought it, and how it made you feel.
- At the end of each day, reflect on how you felt the day went in terms of expenses and money saved. What went well? What could you have done differently?
- Total the amount spent and write it in pen. Go over it in the appropriate highlighter. On the days you get to write down $0, do a happy dance, reward yourself with a TV show of your choosing, take a bubble bath, etc. Treat yourself for doing so well!
- At the end of the week, do a ‘Week in Review.’ Total up the expenses and the savings. Again, reflect on what we went well and what could have gone better. Ask yourself, “How can I improve next week?” Put that plan into action and start over again on Monday.
I’m already excited to see how my next week goes. When you write down every penny you spend, it’s an accountability piece. If I don’t want to write anything down, then you can’t be spending. It’s also important to have a directional goal. Mine will be to have two days of $0 spending.
Here’s to a change in money mindset!
Christine Denker is a personal growth writer who takes everyday life happenings and puts a life lesson spin on them. She believes life is what you make of it and the best way to do that is through simple living and positive vibes. She is also excited that her first independently published book launched on May 1, 2019!!✌️❤️