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My Experience with a Tiny Notepad

In January I decided to keep track of my expenses by carrying a tiny notepad around wherever I travel. Although I rarely go to the ATM I don’t like the idea of cash flowing in and out of my wallet. My husband keeps track of all of our credit card transactions in a handy-dandy spreadsheet, but of course, he can’t keep track of cash expenditures unless I tell him what I’m buying. So I thought I’d carry along a little notepad to write down all my expenditures.

What did I learn from this experiment? If you’re hoping to learn that I gained some unusual knowledge about my spending habits, I’m afraid you’ll be mistaken. What I learned is that I have very little self-discipline. My husband has been keeping a journal for years now, detailing the events of his day, his goals, his eating habits, his weight, you name it. Somehow I couldn’t manage to keep track of my expenses for more than a few weeks.

At first I blamed this on the fact that I rarely use cash. I use it to pay for lunch in the cafeteria, which doesn’t take credit cards. I use it whenever I have items that are less than a few dollars or when there is a long line of customers behind me who seem to be in a hurry. Other than that I don’t use cash very often. But I find it funny that after a few weeks of tracking my spending habits I wholeheartedly gave up on the approach. In fact, I have started and stopped this tracking technique since January, but I can’t seem to get past the two week mark. Maybe it’s because I know that the majority of our spending habits are being accounted for, or maybe I learned everything I needed to know in a matter of weeks.

In the past I have written about the patience and planning it takes to live a frugal lifestyle, but in this particular case I just couldn’t muster up the discipline.

Anonymous

Friday 22nd of June 2007

My bank has little books that are basically like check registers but square with a little pocket to put a debit card into. I LOVE this. I hardly ever use cash so when I want to pay for something, I take out the little book from my wallet, use the debit card, and immediately jot down the name of the store and the amount. Then, I periodically look at my account info online, putting check marks as the purchases come out. It works VERY well and I always know exactly how much money I have. And I almost never forget to track a purchase because I have to handle the register to access my debit card. I also keep a small pen in the same small pocket of my purse where I keep my wallet. I am not the most organized person so I’m so glad I’ve found something that works for me.