Oh the guilt! You have taken the time to sit down and finally figure out your finances. You have carefully created a budget down to the last penny. Today is the day you are going to start focusing on your spending and stop living paycheck to paycheck. You’ve got this!

You confidently leave the house and drive the kids to school, but on the way you hit a ton of traffic and get 10 urgent texts from a client – so you pull into the nearest Starbucks and get yourself a Grande Vanilla Latte with Soy. Budget blown in the first 30 minutes. Well, since you have already blown the budget for the day, you might as well just keep spending and start again tomorrow.

We have all been there. The truth of the matter is that this approach does not work for most people, and let’s face it, we are most people. Where is the fun in life if you are always restricting yourself?

Here is my challenge for you. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU SPEND. That’s it. For the next month, just write in a notebook or on your phone every time you spend money, share the information with someone for accountability and tell them “No judgment”. This will do two things. First, it will make you – even for a second – think about whether you really need to spend that money. Is it worth the energy to pull out the notebook or phone and write it down? Secondly, because you are sharing the information with someone else, you will think about whether or not you want that person to see your activity. Do I really want my BFF to see that I just spent $150 on essential oils?

After a month, you will find yourself spending less on things that really don’t matter. It will become easy to save because you will start prioritizing your wants and spend less time aimlessly spending money. And that is the key, no more mindless spending. You will have the willpower to walk right past those $1 buckets at the front of Target stores. Plus, now you have data and data is power. Where are you spending your money? What percentage is that of your monthly income? How much could you be saving if you spent less in that area? Each month challenge yourself to spend $10 less than you did before and watch your savings account start expanding.

I would love to hear how this works for you so shoot me an email at anne@ellenbecker.com.

“Remember that small steps can create giant leaps over time, so never think of any financial or spending matter as a small one.” ~ David Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich

Anne Mank has been married for 13 years with three kids ages 11, 9 and 7.  Oldest child has both physical and mental special needs.  Lives in Oak Creek, WI. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Cardinal Stritch University. Anne has over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. Lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. She is a proud member of the Milwaukee Chapter of Polka Dot Powerhouse.