I got a small notebook (about 3×2) to keep in my purse and record all spending and income. So far my plan is to use one sheet for each day, and force myself to write down each transaction. I have never, ever kept a checkbook register. I’ve never felt any need to – I’ve always been good with my money, plus I log into internet banking nearly every day so I always know my balance within a few dollars. Also, I very rarely wrote checks, so there was never a question of outstanding checks I had forgotten about. Now I never write checks (I haven’t even had a checkbook in years). If I must have a check, I use ING. However, for 99.5% of purchases I have not had any problems paying with cash or credit/debit. So writing down every transaction is going to be a new experience for me!
My grand total for July spending so far: $0.25.
Tomorrow I’m flying to Chicago and staying there for three days. Monday and Tuesday will be spent looking at apartments with my soon-to-be-roommate and hopefully signing a lease somewhere. Therefore spending will probably be somewhat high during the next three days due to transportation and eating out in the city.
I’m also listing income in my notebook register. Or rather, I’m listing hours worked and any cash I receive. If I find money or receive gifts, that will be recorded for that day in my notebook. I think I’m going to make an Excel spreadsheet where I can record all numbers from my notebook once every week or so. I haven’t decided on the best way to do this (or on what categories I want to group spending into), and I expect that it may take a few months before I have any real system in place.
I recently read through this guy’s “Eating Well On $1 A Day” experiement . I’ve never seen the kind of coupon bargains he finds at stores around here, but when I find new grocery stores in Chicago I might give it a go.
It also just occurred to me that since I’ll be getting a job instead of starting a PhD program this fall, I can return to my savings goals for the next 20 years. I’m not sure how do-able having a net worth of $100k in 2 years will be, but I will have a good idea once I am hired in Chicago.