Several weeks ago, my husband, James, said we had spent a lot of money eating at restaurants last month. I had been thinking it, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Now I am.
When he told me, I went into immediate action. That night, I started a money journal in a spiral notebook. I started writing down any money I had spent that day using one page for each week. I wrote the date, the store, and the amount. I have since tweaked it to only be about food purchases.
Yes, I know there are websites and apps that do this. James uses them and that was how he knew we had spend too much eating out. Call me old school, but the act of writing is more meaningful for me. If I just have to glance at an app, I will soon forget. But when I have to write it down myself, I am more hesitant to spend the money. Mindfulness is important, in whatever way works best for you.
People keep food journals for the same reason I am doing this. Accountability and awareness are key to changing habits. First of all, when you write something down, even if you are the only one who sees it, you have to own up to it. You can’t just dismiss it and move along, because there is a record of it. The second part is knowing when these things are happening so you can figure out why. Being able to analyze your habits gives insight to how you can change them.
Since I started this journal, I am being more intentional with our eating schedule. We aren’t the busiest family, but I want to plan at the beginning of the week any time I know we are eating out. I made a chart with each meal listed. I am leaving room for a few changes, but for the most part, if it says we are eating at home, I am making sure we have the ingredients for a meal. This has meant more trips to the grocery store, but that is certainly cheaper and healthier than a restaurant.
This idea can work for any part of your spending, but I think it is good to work on one area at a time. You can always get that under control and then move on to another area. It can be too overwhelming otherwise.
These last few weeks have felt good. I took control back that I had given up. We are all in charge of our finances and should see it as a gift and spend that money wisely. No one wants to talk about money, but once you open up that dialog, you get to take control. Saving money in areas you don’t really care about can mean saving it or spending it on something you are passionate about.
Don’t let your money issues hold you back or be your boss. Don’t let your stuff own you. Decide right now that you are in charge and get creative. It will all be worth it when you can give more, travel more, or buy that TV you have been wanting!
Linking with Holley Gerth