Over the last two postings, we’ve been examining Weighing In, an important technique for sweeping away the financial fog most overshoppers are mired in. We’ve looked at four columns on the Daily Weigh-In Form—Item Purchased, Actual Cost, Necessity Score, and Necessity Cost.
Today, we’ll look at the second column, Category. The idea here is straightforward: you put each purchase imageinto a thematic bin, a category, so you can start to recognize the patterns of your spending. There are fifteen bins: Savings/Investment, Heartsongs, Home, Food and Drink, Clothing and Accessories, Self-Care, Health Care, Personal and Spiritual Growth, Transportation, Entertainment, Dependent Care, Vacation, Gifts, Dues/Fees/Personal Business, and Debt Repayment. Each of your expenditures can be reasonably fit into one of them.
The assigning of categories needn’t be a difficult decision, or one you struggle with. Just be consistent and reasonable. The only category requiring discussion here is the one I call Heartsongs. These are special investments in your particular joy of living: concert tickets if you’re a music lover, supplies for a fulfilling hobby, taking your grandchild to the movies, a day at the beach perhaps. (Nothing you buy compulsively can be a heartsong, because compulsive purchases also make your heart ache.) Just think about what constitutes a heartsong for you, and when you spend on one, use that category to record it. Providing yourself with heartsongs makes it all worthwhile—including the hard work of stopping overshopping—and makes it a lot less likely you’ll feel so deprived that you binge-spend.
We’ve looked at all the columns on the Daily Weigh-In Form. But where will all this data begin to add up, to tell a story? That’s what we’ll look at now. Each daily weigh-in is a snapshot. Two other documents—the Weekly Weigh-In Form and the Weekly Spending by Categories Form—help you begin to assemble these snapshots into your individual shopping movie. We’ll introduce one now, and the other next posting.
The Weekly Weigh-In simply gathers the results of seven Daily Weigh-Ins:
It’s a simple document—but it’s usually an eye-opener. If you’ve honestly kept your daily numbers, the weekly summary will tell you just how much you might have saved had you bought only what was more necessary rather than less. And it’s usually a lot more than you’d have guessed.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.