How Financial Tracking Affected the Busiest Time of My Year

For my latest challenge, I (Ginger)  decided to keep a financial journal for 30 days. Each day I wrote down every purchase I made – cash, check, or card. I’ve always thought I had a good handle on my finances and what I spend on, if not daily, at least a weekly basis. I thought this challenge could help me keep finances forefront in my mind. Long story short, it definitely accomplished the awareness portion of it. However, it added a lot of stress to my life due to the timing of this challenge with the rest of my life.

Let me explain. We decided this spring that this year was the year we were going to move. My husband and I have been passively looking at houses for the past few years, but we decided this year was it. In early May, we found the house we wanted to buy and made an offer on it. Fortunately, they accepted our offer so we moved forward with that process. A week later, we listed our house! During the month of May we poured our money into everything we needed to have done on our house in order to sell it. We made several trips to Menards in May. I’m pretty sure we’re among their top customers.

On top of that, I couldn’t get my life together between buying a new house, fixing up the old house and sporadically running home to grab the dogs for showings to make lunches for myself or Andy. So, tracking my expenses daily really brought me awareness of how often I bought lunch. I’m not sure if it helped or added to my stress level… I definitely felt a lot of guilt.

Here’s an excerpt from my journal – two different days. They are fairly typical representations of how most days went. 

Day 8

12.00 pm: No lunch again today. $6.08

5:00 pm: I put off stopping for groceries again. I made up my mind I would go later after we clean the house a little.

10:00 pm: Going to bed instead of going to get groceries. Spent all evening sweeping, vacuuming, and painting the basement. Uhgg. This is all a lot to handle and I feel overwhelmed often. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Day 12

9:00 am: Showing today at 9:30 so I get out of the house around 9. Out of gas so I take the dogs and stop for gas and a coffee before we head to the park to walk around for an hour. $44.96

12:00 pm: Have to pay the garbage and electricity bills. $139

2:00 pm: Andy needs a few things at Fleet Farm. I pick up some more training treats and a small bag of Doritos. I had a $10 gift card so only spent $2.52. Andy had a few other things to pick up for the house so his bill was a little higher. $24.32 Total was $26.84

6:30 pm: Have another showing so we took the dogs to Keene Creek for a bit, but then decided to go to Dairy Queen to split a meal. Splitting a meal still adds up. $15.47

Would I do this again? Yes, but – yes there’s a but – while it was good to be aware of how much we were spending during this buying/selling process, it added another layer of stress that I could have done without during that time. I plan to do the journal again in the fall when spending is ‘normal’ so I can understand what normal looks like too! If you have any tips on ways to lessen the stress level of high spending times, share them in the comments below.

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