A Mess Free Life may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
The purpose of this No Spend Day Challenge, maybe the sole purpose, is to help you get and stay connected with your money. You see, you’ve been living in a fog up until now and through this Challenge you’ve uncovered and started a new relationship with your money. But if you’re not careful, and if you don’t pay attention to your money, this new relationship will slip away.
How To Stay Connected With Your Money
Have you ever wondered why casinos turn your cash into chips to play their games? Well, it has to do with helping you get disconnected with your money.
The casinos understand that if you were allowed to play poker or blackjack with cash instead of chips you’d play a lot differently. You’d be more cautious and use more restraint.
But when money is converted to colorful playing chips you are more easily detached from its value. And that’s what the casinos are betting on. The chips become “play” money which makes it easier to throw out another blue, red or green chip. Add some liquor, and you are right where they want you to be – in a financial fog where money is no longer money at all
So what does a financial fog look like? Are only casino dwellers capable of this fog or can we all fall victim to it?
Here are a few clues to see if you are living in a financial fog:
- Do you open up your credit card statements and gasp at the total because it’s more than you thought it would be?
- Are you unaware of how much money you have in your savings and checking account?
- What about your retirement accounts?
- Does cash seem just to disappear, causing you to stop at the ATM frequently throughout the week?
- Do you have a hard time remembering to document in your ledger your ATM withdrawals, automatic payments, debit card transactions and the like?
If you answered YES to any of these, I am here to tell you are in a money fog. And, if you answered YES to several, you are heading for a money coma!
Our modern life makes it easy to fall into a financial fog. We use credit cards and debit cards as if they were poker chips in the casino rather than paying with cash for our purchases, and we drift further and further away from the consequences of our spending. Then we have less money after we make the purchase than before. The use of credit cards and debit cards shields us from that reality and continues the vicious cycle of our money fog.
Other ways we enter the fog:
- We order online
- We buy with easy payment plans that let us break down this enormous expenditure into teeny tiny payments that make it easier to swallow.
- We head the ATM frequently
- We ignore our bills
- We incur overdrafts and shut off notices
Living in a financial fog makes it difficult to see our money clearly. Because you’re not paying attention to your money, your financial worries can seem like a huge and scary situation that grows more frightening each day.
But fear can make your financial situation look worse and stop you from taking action which will ultimately keep your financial situation exactly where it is. The good news is once you face your fears and see your financial position with clarity, you can begin to take the necessary action to change your circumstances, thus reducing the fear, anxiety, and worry that comes along with ignoring your money.
So let’s talk about tracking the ins and outs of income and expenses.
Money likes to be paid attention. Tracking is a way to give money the attention it deserves. Simply put, tracking involves noting all the money that comes in and goes out of your life.
For all income, you should record where the money came from and the amount. For expenses, you’ll need to record three things: the amount, who’s receiving the money and purpose for expenditure.
Tracking is simple. I typically do it on an excel spreadsheet and but you can easily do it with paper and pen.
Each day put in the number next to the corresponding day for the total money received for that day. Include money from all sources. If you’re married or live with a domestic partner, include their income or money as well. Add money that comes in from rebates, birthdays, wages, and business income. It all counts. You can list next to each day all the sources of money so you can visually see where the money is coming from.
If I were to ask ten people if they liked tracking their expenses, maybe one person would say ‘yes.’
I get it; no one likes to track. But here is what I know for sure: Tracking your expenses automatically leads you to spend less money. The purpose of tracking is to take a snapshot of your spending habits and figure out where it all goes. It is only by doing this you can begin to change your habits.
Track your spending and you’ll…
• Plug leaks in your spending
• Reduce spending
• See how reducing small amounts in lots of areas add up to something significant
• Begin to live within your means (and save)
• Know where your money is going
Financial freedom will come when you know what happens to every dollar and become reluctant to part with it.
The first time you track your spending, try not to edit your spending habits. Try tracking for at least a month. At the end of the month add up, by category, what you spent during that month.What you’ll find will more than likely surprise you. Most people don’t realize how they spend their money. It can be such an eye-opening experience to see how you spend your money and the data can then help you to make better spending choices.
Click here to get my Expense Tracking Form!