Mid-Month Check in: Can a Budget Tracker Really Get me on…Track?

It’s April 15th – I am halfway through my first month of tracking my expenses using a budgeting journal. The purpose of this exercise is to examine how I am spending my money to see if I can curb my impulses and bolster my savings.

So far, I have noticed two things about my habits:

  1. I purchase quite a bit of personal care items, such as energy/collagen powder, lotions, hair care, etc; and
  2. Knowing that I have to write down my purchases in the journal has made me stop before clicking “BUY NOW”. Similar to using a food tracking journal or app – the decisions I make are there in black and white for me to see and I do not want to exhibit poor self-control.

#2 is huge for me because it is so easy to give into temptation on Amazon, especially since early 2020 when our world as we know it changed. I’m not the only one – if we look at Amazon’s first and second quarter sales from 2019 compared to 2020, the increase is obvious. While many of us began relying on online services for our necessities, speaking for myself, I have engaged in plenty of “comfort shopping*”. Holding myself accountable has eliminated my mindless purchases.

As for #1, by tracking personal item purchases, I will be able to see if it would benefit me to take advantage of the “Subscribe and Save” option to receive items I regularly use at a discounted rate. Currently I have three subscriptions from Amazon – dog food, laundry detergent sheets, and face cream – all at a 5% discount. What I like about this is that it has removed the need to remember to order when these supplies run low and I can set/adjust the delivery dates as needed. For example, I get a new bag of dog food every 3 weeks, the detergent sheets every 6, and the face cream every 3 months. There is no reason why I shouldn’t consider this for my leave-in conditioner and energy/collagen powder.

This exercise also motivated me to get in shape in another way – compiling all of my account usernames and passwords in one place**, making sure these accounts are linked up to my current e-mail addresses, saving photos from old Google drives, and deleting old Gmail accounts. I suppose you could say that once I began tracking my spending, I realized that I wanted to get control over these tasks, too.

*”Comfort Shopping” is a real thing! So real, in fact, Today.com just published an article about how to stop engaging in this behavior! Talk about great timing!

**While it is not recommended that one puts their usernames and passwords all in one place, I have opted to do so in a hand-written format. As my homepage states, I am an estate and trust administration paralegal. In too many instances a deceased person’s spouse or child cannot access their loved one’s information after their passing to determine what may need to be taken care of. I chose to do this for my wife in case something were to happen to me.

I am optimistic about this exercise because, already, I feel as if I have stepped on to a better path. I am looking forward to the end of April for the full result.

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