Wednesday, August 24, 2016
I've tracked every penny I've spent for the last 6 years — here's the biggest lesson I learned
Just one week of tracking every penny in and out of my life was enlightening, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. I thought I’d find insights about the actual data and where I could save money, and while that was somewhat true, the bigger lesson was one of awareness.
In January 2010, I was wrapping up my last few classes of my MBA at Pepperdine University in beautiful Malibu, California. One of my first assignments in the new year was simple:
Track all of my income and expenses for one week and write about the experience.
The only rule: to track every single penny in and out of my life, whether it was spending thousands on a car or finding a quarter on the street.
This was right up my alley – as a data-obsessed Excel nerd and Myers-Briggs type ISTP, also known as "The Craftsman," I quickly built a spreadsheet to help me track it all, complete with pivot tables to summarize the data by date and category.
Over six and a half years and 7,500 rows later, my spreadsheet is alive and well, still summing up my income and expenses into pretty charts.
While I watch my overall financial health every month and year and break it apart by category during tax season, I’ve never sat down and looked at the key takeaways — that is, until J. Money asked me to.
Today, I’m going to do something I’ve never done: I’m going make my expenses public and share seven surprises of this experiment: