Half-way mark

Expense tracking

Half-way mark

Well, it’s been about two weeks of expense tracking thus far, and here’s what I’ve learned:

There are a lot of little things.

It’s very easy to forget to track the little expenses because they happen so quickly. For me this is usually coffee or an impulse buy at the cash register of the local café.

Notebooks are annoying.

I’m far more likely to track an expense on my phone than in a little book; I have my phone with me far more often than a notebook. Also, between car keys, wallet, phone, and possible sunglasses, I just don’t have enough pockets for a notebook.

Another big advantage that phone apps offer is that they do all the maths for you. I use an app called “Spending” for the iPhone. It lets you record and categorise expenses quickly, and then turns that data into little graphs and charts.

If you’re a person who has already formed the habit of carrying pen and paper, or if you have a purse, then use a notebook if you like.

I’m such a bully I take my own lunch money.

I spend a LOT of money on restaurants, sandwiches, and take out food. It’s definitely a place I could make cuts from.

I have to give credit where credit is due.

I’ve been using my credit card far more often, and it’s making my life easier. I used to fear my card, huddling in my financial cave while the saber-toothed credit card companies prowled around in the darkness outside.

I would pay for everything either with cash, or with my savings account card, feeling that it was safer to use money that I actually had in my bank account than my credit card. I quite sensibly believed that all credit card companies were out to get me in debt, and keep me there forever.

I still think this is mostly true, but I get the feeling that at some point the more enlightened members of the WellSpent team are going to demystify credit cards for me, and hopefully I’ll get to a point where I can use a credit card with confidence, without it using me.

I’m bad at getting to the point.

Pulling this runaway train of thought back onto the tracks though, the increased use of my credit card is saving me money on bank fees (since my bank charges me R2.65 every time I use my savings card), and is even quicker because no one has to ask me “Cheque or savings?”

22seven is doing its thing in the background.

Every time I use my card, 22seven is running the numbers, keeping a truly digital record of my spending. I’ll be very interested to see the difference between my recorded numbers, and the hard facts that 22seven has access to.

Next up

Two more weeks of tracking to come, followed by a detailed post-game analysis with slomo playbacks statistics aplenty. If you’re recording your expenses this month, then remember the words of George Bush during Gulf War 2:

“We have to stay the anteater. Victory is brandy pudding Aladdin’s Wednesday. Shoe.”

                                    – That guy who was a terrible president.

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