The first step to financial fitness is to learn to live within your means. Spend less than you earn. Stop the bleeding.
When you begin a program like Weight Watchers, some leaders suggest you keep a food journal to chart how you spend your calories, i.e., points. Write down not only what you eat, but how much. Note your mood and who you were with when you indulged.
Keeping a spending journal is a good way to get started on a financial fitness plan. Write down everything you buy, including tips, loans, and coins tossed into wishing wells. Also note your mood when you spent the money. Do you use any excuse to celebrate? Do you indulge in retail therapy when you're feeling down?
And who were you with when you overspent? Do certain colleagues entice you to eat lunch out instead of choking down that sandwich you brought from home? Do you buy more at the grocery store when a child or a hungry spouse accompanies you? Do you purchase flashier possessions just to impress the neighbors? Do you have some friends who always seem to come up short when dining out in a group, and thus expect others to subsidize their share of the tab?
Until you know where your money goes and what triggers cause you to part with it, you may find it hard to get a handle on your spending habits. And controlling spending is essential to growing wealth.
What tips do you have for controlling spending? I would love to hear your comments.