Where Does the Money Go?
Have you ever heard the story of the disappearing $20 bill? It goes like this . . .
There once was this $20 bill that you took out of the bank on a Friday. You put it in your purse or wallet for safe keeping. Over the weekend, you went about your business as usual. The following Monday, you went out for lunch and planned to use that $20 bill to pay for the meal . . . but when you looked in your purse/wallet it was GONE!
That, my friends, is the story of the disappearing $20 bill. If you’ve lived through a situation like this, don’t feel bad. It happens to all of us. The trick is to figure out where you spent that $20 and was it worth it.
Get out a tablet and start keeping track of every cent you spend. And I do mean every cent. This isn’t easy. It should make you think twice before you buy that next trinket. Try keeping this log for a few weeks or a month. Include in your log, the day and time, what you purchase, how much was spent, and - here’s the catch - how you were feeling and what you were doing at the time. For instance, one entry in my spending log was:
11/08/05 11:38 a.m., stopped at Wal-mart on my way back from a program. I had been sick for a few days and bought a box of tissues, can of Campbell’s soup and box of Zesta brand saltine crackers.
Why does this stick in my mind? Because I bought brand-name items, when I usually opt for generic or store brand. I was feeling bad and splurged a bit to make myself feel better.
Interestingly, after keeping the journal for a while, take a look back through it. Do you see any patterns emerging -such as stopping at the gas station for a soda or coffee each day? Notice any emotional spending or “triggers” to spending – had a fight with your wife or grabbed a magazine in the checkout line? What about any spending habits you want to change?
I challenge you all to do this for even one week (longer is better) and see what you discover about yourself. Ask other members of your household to do the same. You may find some unknown spending leaks that can be stopped and get you on your way to Living Well.