Why Learning To Keep Track Of Your Money Is The Best Resolution You Can Make For 2014
Whether it's published by Forbes, the Guardian or New York Times, there's usually one study that is certain to be quoted time and time again when it comes to cynicism regarding New Year's resolutions. Out of the 45 percent of Americans who make resolutions for the New Year, only eight percent of them actually follow through, research from Scranton University suggests.
Whether that's a valid reason to have a lack of interest in resolutions or not, it does suggest that it might be more worthwhile to make simple gestures leading up to the bigger habits, which one wishes for the discipline to practice. We'll call these smaller successes "gateway resolutions," the steps before the big step.
Take budgeting, for example. It's a big habit that few people really desire to enforce, never mind actually do. Making projections, estimating how much you'll spend next month on that or next week on this, is hardly the most exhilarating task. Let's just be real about this: You're more likely to be tempted to check your Instagram timeline than to spend an uninterrupted hour crunching numbers and calculating percentages.
There's no doubt that learning to manage your money is important, but it can also be a pain. Thus, we bring you back to the reason an alternative should be considered: the all-important gateway resolution that will make your life easier and you a bit richer.
"The essence of building wealth requires someone to spend less than they bring in, and tracking your spending against a budget is the scorecard to which you can hold yourself accountable," says Greg McBride of The Wall Street Journal.
Tracking your spending, if only for a month, is a simple practice that can have a big reward. It is, by no means, difficult -- all it really takes is a pen, pencil or phone that was made during this century -- and allows you to see, before your eyes, the effects of your spending habits that you might otherwise dismiss at the instant you leave the register.
"We’re talking about everything from housing, food and clothing to movie-going, dining out and getting manicures and pedicures," writes Jennifer Waters of Market Watch. "It’s pretty simple to calculate if you’re spending more than you’re bringing in. Now you can see just how, where and why you’re doing it. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it."
Once you have the facts down, you'll see what expenditures you can make room for, what has to go and what purchases have to be limited. That, in essence, is what budgeting is, and when you begin to track your spending, you just might find yourself doing it subconsciously.
At that point, you've basically tricked yourself into doing the responsible thing, the trying task you knew was important but were not interested in doing. Tracking your spending can prove invaluable in the long run. Just try it to see. After all, who wouldn't change their habits after realizing that all those dates with that girl last month -- which were only kind of fun -- were really a huge waste of money?