Do you track your family spending?

I’ll admit it: I am not a lover of household finance.

It’s a subject that unleashes Olympic-level procrastination in me.

Balance the checkbook? I have to go do some meal planning using Pinterest first. Pay the bills? Isn’t it time to organize the kids’ closets or bake some zucchini bread?

Shocking, I know, for someone who otherwise loves to be “buttoned up.”

But it’s something I have had to make my peace with over the past two years.

Up until the arrival of my second son, I was bringing home plenty of bacon with a full-time job of my own. When combined with my husband’s income, we we always had enough in our coffers with plenty left over to save. If I didn’t track every penny, it wasn’t a big deal.

But then, I got knocked up with baby 2 and decided to throw in the towel on my incredibly stressful job.

I was tired of having God-awful office politics hang like storm clouds over my head while I was at home. I was sick of phone calls and teleconferences interrupting the small windows of time I did have with my family.

But most of all, I was tired of feeling like the life I was living wasn’t in sync with my true priorities. I spent all of my time doing work, which while intellectually engaging, was hardly soul-filling. And at the same time getting far too little time with the beings that actually filled my soul.

So, when my second arrived, I held my breath and stepped off the treadmill to be a mom and make a go of Buttoned Up.

For the first time in my adult life, I had no guarantee of income. I had no choice but to get serious about changing my spending habits.

At first I tried to automate it all, using the fantastic, free services of Mint.com. But what I found was that the technology kept me one step removed from my spending. It gave me the illusion of being on the financial straight and narrow, when in fact my habits hadn’t really changed.

It was only when I started to track every penny using a simple pencil and paper taped to my fridge that I was able to get a handle on things. There’s something about physically having to write things down that truly connected me with our money in a new way.

I realized a lot myself (not all of it so pleasant). But the financial mirror has been worth it as I’m convinced that it has enabled us both to live lives that are a much better reflection of who we are.

You can download this budget tracking form for free in our tools section.

monthlyspendingform_main

We still use Mint.com to keep the big picture organized (largely on autopilot since they link into most financial institutions), but both my husband and I now are pretty fanatical about writing down what we spend every day.

How about you? Do you track your spending? Are you pro-tech or do you do it old-school like us?

  • http://www.timestylecoaching.com/ Stacey Vulakh

    Good for you for being involved with your finances! I agree with you in some ways about how a website might make you feel like you’re on top of things but like you said, your habits don’t change. I definitely recommend the old fashioned way – write everything down! Even if you do it for 1-2 weeks as an exercise to really see where your money goes. I think some people are afraid of the result but yet without starting to take charge of where your money goes, any problems people are worried about are probably still there and may even get worse without action. So, yes, I think a little notebook does the trick and then you can carry it with you so you don’t forget anything! Your budget worksheet is a great supplement when it’s time to sit down and organize your budget!