Keys to spending less & living well: track your spending


Over the next several weeks, I’ll be talking about five fundamental elements of saving money and enjoying a fulfilling life. These steps have worked wonders in my life, and I know they can for you too!

Last time we talked about Cherishing Your Long-Term Goals.

Number two is:

Track Your Spending

Last year I wrote here about Why Tracking Spending is Good for You, but I thought I would revisit the idea because it’s so concrete and can-do.

I remember when I was first starting out life with my husband and our joint bank account. Things got a little tense because money seemed to be flying out the door. Hubbie looked at me, the household purchaser, as if I were scooping up rubies and alligator skin boots.

Not having any real proof of where the money was going, I also couldn’t explain the way our money seemed to slip through our fingers like sand.

I was pretty motivated to create the daily expenses chart we use now, and thankfully, it solved the problem. We realized, “Dang, groceries are expensive here,” and “Did we really spend $1500 on that weekend trip?”

We were able to identify both 1) expenses that were unavoidable, and 2) expenses that, well, could be tamed.

Choose an Easy Method That’s Right for You

There are all sorts of ways to record what goes in and what goes out:

  • Buttoned Up has a gorgeous printable monthly spending form
  • Use software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money
  • Try a free website like, or
  • Simply create your own chart with pen and paper.
  • Besides avoiding marital strife, what are other good reasons to mark down what you spend?

    • Stay accountable to yourself, your goals and your family
    • Discourage non-essential purchases knowing they can’t be brushed under the rug
    • Learn where you spend the most, where you could cut back, where you are doing well
    • See instant results when you are successful in trimming expenses

    Once you start, you’ll never say again, “Where does all the money go?”

    Next key: Be a Planner.

    How do you record your daily spending?

    By Amy Suardi of Frugal-Mama and Buttoned Up’s Savings Expert

    Amy Suardi writes about saving money & making life better at Frugal Mama.