I've been tracking my spending for....well, longer than I've had this blog, so at least five or six years. I find it incredibly useful - first for keeping to a budget and now for giving me an overview such that I don't feel a need for a strict budget anymore. It shows patterns, helps me encourage savings, and acts as a spending mitigator (if I don't want to have to report the spending...maybe I shouldn't buy it!).
I'm now becoming aware of the usefulness of tracking other things in your life as well. I know people track things like:
- temperature (for fertility planning)
- debt repayment
- times at the gym
- car mileage
- books read, books to read
- home repairs/maintenance
I'm working on a spreadsheet that will allow me to track all of my trackable New Year's Resolutions as well as any monthly goals - think of it like a slightly grown-up version of a sticker chart. The two biggest criteria for my spreadsheet are that it be quick and easy to use (or else I won't use it!) and that it be available anywhere (so I can update it on the go instead of trying to remember it later). I'm thinking a Google doc but if anyone knows of a free iPhone app, I'd take that too.
I feel a little bit like Benjamin Franklin, when he first put together a chart to track his 13 virtues, or maybe Gretchen Rubin, with her Happiness Project score chart. Five minutes a day to track certain behaviors or situations has given me all sorts of clarity ranging from discovering that our bathtub needs to be cleaned to being able to predict when my face will break out. It's awesome.
Do you track anything in your life? What's missing from my list? How do you keep document the things you're tracking?