This is the Day 8 challenge in the #Money30, a month-long bootcamp for personal finance novices. You can read more about the challenge here, and follow along with us on Twitter, Instagram, or email us at email@example.com.
TIME BUDGET: 10 MINUTES
Over the weekend you tracked your spending. Now it's time to ask yourself some hard questions about where your money goes.
Every dollar represents a choice: You can spend that $20 on a new t-shirt or brunch, rather than putting the Jackson toward a million potential other things.
Which is fine. Brunch is delicious and t-shirts are cool. As long as you maintain positive financial practices—fund your 401(k), pay off your credit card bills, etc.— you won’t necessarily get into trouble.
Over time, though, those seemingly inconsequential momentary decisions (“Yes, please, I’d love another bloody!”) add up to real money.
Take brunch. Let’s say you plunk down $20 a weekend; that’s more than $1,000 a year. Would you rather spend a grand a year on eggs and coffee, or visit the cloud forests and coffee plantations in Costa Rica? Which do you value more?
Look, you can fall down a rabbit hole when it comes to saving. If you stop buying wine for a year, your bank account will be fatter, but you’d have gone a year without wine. In a quest to save, you can often overdo it.
Still, being cognizant of where your cash is going is an essential trait to develop. Now that you’ve tracked your weekend spending, try to cut out, or pare back, one item in which you frequently indulge. Consider how often you really use that gym membership or watch those premium cable channels you're paying for. You can even transfer the money you would otherwise spend on, say, online pizza delivery or that second cocktail into a special savings account, which you can then use to really treat yourself.
Getting into this routine will also halt your impulse spending—“I see, I buy”—and cause you to instead ask: “Do I really want that thing more than something else?”
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