Track Your Spending

Where does your money go? Sometimes it feels like our money gets sucked into a black hole. In reality this black hole may look more like a cup of coffee. In the worst of cases, your money gets converted into extra pounds on your scale. Chances are when you are in control of what you spend, you will be less likely to make impulsive food purchases.

Taking control of your spending can also help your waistline by pointing out areas you can spend less on so that you can more easily fund fitness activities and healthier food options.

When I say “take control of your spending” I’m not saying to begin by creating a budget to follow. There is a lot of good that can come from creating a monthly budget. However, there is a big difference between having good intention of what you will spend in a month and knowing what you actually do spend. We need to be real with ourselves and track what we really spend rather than make plans to commit to a good-on-paper but unrealistic budget.

You can use Naked Formula’s monthly spending log to strip your finances by tracking exactly what you spend. Make sure to read through this post first, and then click here to download our FREE monthly spending log. There are two ways you can begin tracking your spending right now. If you primarily use your bank check card, then you can input each item listed on your statement for the previous month. Using the electronic version (located on the first tab of the spreadsheet) would work best to log each item during one sitting as you view your statement online.

If you use cash for a lot of your purchase, then use receipts to log all your purchases for one month starting today. Using the printer friendly version (located on the second tab of the spreadsheet) is best when using receipts or a combination of receipts and bank statements so you can hand write each purchase into your log at the end of the day.

I prefer the first method because you can see what you tend to spend naturally. The second method will be affected by the fact that you are observing it. You may tend to spend less because you know you will be recording it at the end of the day. Do not let this deter you trying this out though. Even if your log is affected by the fact that you are observing it, you will still benefit by your spending now having a sense of accountability (there is a pun in there somewhere)

Here is how to use the spreadsheet. In the first column, you will fill in categories that each of your purchases will fall into. Create them as you come across them. For example, if you are reviewing your bank statement then let the first category be the first purchase of the month. If you are creating your log from receipts, then simply create your first category from the first purchase you make today. Create new categories as needed and fill in existing categories with additional information as you make recurring purchases.

You can be as specific as you would like. For example, I knew one client not only spent a lot at cafe’s and coffee shops, but specifically made frequent purchases at the cafe located inside their office building. I suggested they create a separate category for these purchase as they filled in there log. Doing so would create a more descriptive image of where exactly they spend their money.

Then they can see what modifications they can make to curb their spending if they notice a pattern reflecting unhealthy habits. For example, one month’s log showed over a dozen purchases were made at the office cafe within that time period. We took a look at what items they frequently purchased there, and had them start brining in a healthier alternative from home. A healthier alternative could even be the same item that has been packaged in a smaller portion. Not only will these modifications save you money, but you will have a lot more control of the food you are putting into your body.

Logging your spending will shine a light on where you are choosing to make your food purchases and may bring attention to other areas you may be over spending. Completing this log is also the first step to creating a realistic monthly budget. Now that you see what your true expenses are, you can then creative a monthly budget that you know you can stick to.

As a health coach, I simply encourage my clients to complete this exercise on their own to help them become aware of how their spending may be getting in the way of their health. If you would like professional financial guidance, then I encourage you to speak with Tiffany Gonzalez, CPA and owner of Accounting to Scale. Tiffany is a Naked Formula Financial Wellness expert and is the professional we endorse to provide expert direction in this area. You can visit her page hereĀ