Personal Budget Tracking Creates Results

September 24, 2009

Does your personal budget have holes in it, where the money just oozes out without you realizing it?  Do you have a system in place to track how the money in your budget is actually spent?

If not, here’s a story that might convince you to track your money more closely. It begins several years ago at my old job, where it was open season on our office printer.

Out of Control Spending

The cost of paper, ink, and printers was part of the general office overhead budget and kept growing each year.  The creeping costs were understandable, the table next to the printer was always covered with stacks of printed pages.  Some of them were printed and forgotten, they would sit there for a week before being tossed into the recycle bin.  The table was littered with mapquest directions, personal emails, order confirmation pages from Best Buy, all sorts of random things that had been printed.

Organized Spending

Now fast forward to the printer table at my current job and guess how many sheets of printed and forgotten paper there are lying around the printer table. Zero. 

That’s because the new company outsources all of the printing so every page you print has to be billed to a project. Every time you print a document a dialog box pops up and you have to decide which part of the budget the cost of printing will come from.

Tracking Our Spending

Since there’s a system in place to track and account for each piece of paper that’s printed people don’t waste it.  We’re not discouraged in any way from printing. If we need something printed we don’t have to ask or justify it, just simply pick which part of the budget it comes out of.  Of course that act of tracking the expense and tying it to a project budget keeps us accountable and helps avoid waste.

How Do Your Track Your Spending?

So the question is, what areas of spending in your personal finances would you like to improve?  Are you tracking your spending against your budget? What system do you have in place to monitor your expenses?

Until you have one, your actual spending may be more like a scattered heap of unused and wasted paper rather than the clean and organized budget that you strive to follow.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to Personal Budget Tracking Creates Results

  • ctreit

    When we track our expenses, we are very diligent. We include every single dollar we spend. After all, even the afternoon candy bar for 75 cents adds up to 20 bucks or so in a month. There is one big benefit when we track our expenses: we become very careful about spending money because we don’t want to face the music at the end of the month if we spend money stupidly. I for one would not want my wife to reprimand me for foolish spending.

  • plonkee

    I don’t know – there’s a limit to how much tracking is worthwhile. I’m not very detail oriented and would struggle to keep up with anything that was in depth. I prefer to give myself allowances. I can spend whatever I like, on whatever I like, but the total budget for *frills and frippery* is limited each month.


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