Don’t Be Lazy When It Comes to Money: Use A Manual Ledger

If you’re like me, you find it really convenient that your credit card or banking institution provides you with a list of your most recent transactions when you log into your online account. It really simplifies the book keeping process and that’s great. Unfortunately, with simplicity comes laziness and with laziness comes mistakes/unwelcomed surprises. I have to admit, I have fallen victim to this.

This past month, I have been going out more often with friends for birthdays, dinners, movies, etc. This leads to me placing charges to to my credit card. I usually check my balance once a week to make everything is in order, but with multiple things going on and again, laziness, I skipped a few weeks. To my unwelcomed surprise, I spent a lot more than I have in a long while. Luckily, I can handle it, but it blew out my budget for the month.

What could I have done to avoid this? Well, I guess I could have checked my online balance more often, but not all transactions appear immediately. And even if they do, they typically don’t include the additional tip you’ve added to the bill. Going out to eat numerous times can really cause your total debt to be offset by a lot. My solution is to keep a simple ledger going forward. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy whatsoever, just follow these three easy steps:

  1. Create a new spreadsheet
  2. Create four (4) columns: Transaction Date, Vendor, Card, and Amount:
    • Transaction Date – the date you made the purchase or deposited money
    • Vendor – the place you made your purchase or return
    • Card – in case you have multiple cards, you can keep track of which one your spending with
    • Amount – the cost of the transaction
  3. Enter all your transactions each night through the receipts you collect

This is a tactic I used to curb my spending after college as well. It worked wonders because it gave me a real time tally of how much I was spending and how much I truly had left in my accounts. It’s also the idea of associating your purchase with additional labor and helps with memorization. What does it help you remember? THAT YOU KEEP SPENDING MONEY THAT SHOULD BE SAVED!