When I first started paying off my debt, I joined Mint.com and obsessively tracked every penny I spent. I agonized over unexpected expenses and made sure we never, ever went over our grocery budget. I had every penny of my small new-grad paycheque budgeted, and there was no room for error.
It was tough at first, but my husband and I soon got into a routine, and after a year or two, I didn’t have to watch our money so closely anymore. We were in a groove, and we didn’t need to track our spending every day. I still kept tabs on our Mint.com account, but I let my obsession slide.
Now that I’ve been debt free for almost two years, my husband has a better paying job and we live in a new city, it’s time to give our day-to-day spending a tune up, and that starts with spending tracking. I started in July, and I finally got around to tallying the numbers in a spreadsheet last night. I slotted each transaction from July into categories like transportation, groceries, entertainment, shopping, pets, etc.
The results were a little eye-opening. Here’s what I learned:
Cars are Expensive
Last month we spent a ridiculous $1,162 on our car. Almost $900 of that was car repairs, another $190 went to switching our plates over to Nova Scotia plates, and the rest was gas. One small bonus: We had a credit on our car insurance which meant we didn’t have to make a payment in July. Still, ouch.
We Overspent on Consumables
To be fair, July was a busy month. We had visitors or were traveling almost every weekend, which means restaurant meals, extra groceries for family meals, and lots of alcohol purchases. We overspent on both our groceries and our entertainment categories.
Economizing Pet Purchases Is Working
I’ve been taking extra care lately to buy pet supplies in bulk. That means ordering a 39 pack of dog bags instead of a 12 pack, buying a 20 pound bag of cat food and lugging home a huge container of cat litter that is so big I can barely lift it. It’s a little more money up front, but I’m already seeing the savings. In July, we only spent $24 on pet supplies, and it was for three litter locker bags from Amazon.
Looking Forward to August’s Tallies
August is almost over, and this month is looking much different for our budgets. The regular monthly purchases like groceries, restaurants and transportation will be on budget or under (yay!) but there are other huge purchases in there such as travel (from our trip to Ottawa) and shopping (made some big purchases).
Overall, I’m happy that I’m tracking my spending again, I feel like it’s giving me insight into my daily money habits that I didn’t realize I’d lost. I’m looking forward to getting rid of some inefficiencies in my spending habits and using the extra cash to boost my savings rates.
Do you track your spending? How? Mint.com? Spreadsheet? By hand? I want to know!