What gets measured, gets managed.
I’m pursuing somewhat of an overall life mastery. Each day, I’m constantly tinkering, experimenting, and pushing to see where my comfort zone is, where my comfort zone ends, and how I can become better. Some days I feel confident, and other days I have no idea what I’m doing.
To do this, I benchmark my progress: through note taking, writing in a journal, and tracking my actions over time.
The simple act of writing down what actions I’ve taken today, and reviewing these notes weekly, monthly, and yearly has made a tremendous difference in my life.
One of the areas I’ve seen the biggest impact as a result of my tracking efforts has been my personal finances. Through tracking my expenses, I’ve realized there are certain weeks or months where I spend too much on food, or went over board on Amazon purchases. There were even a few times when I realized I would need to do a no spend weekend or two to make the next credit card payment.
At the end of the day, I came away being able to pay off my card, and it was all because of my consistent tracking habits.
Outside of my finances, in previous years, I’ve tracked what I was eating to successfully hit my weight goals.
Tracking helps all of these areas because what gets measured, gets managed.
In this post, I’m going to share with you some more on the importance of tracking, and talk about the month of November where I’m going to track EVERYTHING GOING ON IN MY LIFE.
Let’s get it trackin’!
Track Your Income and Expenses: An Example
To show the importance of tracking, I want to share with you a personal finance example. Knowing where you are financially is so important to financial success.
I have two friends: Jack and Jill. Jill is a tracker; she tracks her income and expenses. Jack is not a tracker; he doesn’t track his income and expenses.
Jack and Jill work at the same company and are in the same team, both making $5,000 a month.
Jill, the Tracker
Jill, the tracker, wants to retire someday. A few years ago, she started putting away $500 a month into an investment account. Now, she is married and just gave birth to her first kid. As a result, her expenses have gone up, but she still has kept in mind her goal of saving for retirement.
Before having her child, she was spending $500 a month on food and drink with her husband. These days, since they have another mouth to feed, she realized that their combined food spending would about $750 a month if she kept eating out. Instead, she changed her habits and started bringing her lunch from home to work a few days a week.
With this simple change, Jill’s family is back to spending $500 a month on food. She didn’t have to alter her lifestyle too much, and is still on track for retirement.
Jack, the Non-Tracker
Jack, the non-tracker, wants to retire soon. But, he doesn’t know where he is at on a monthly basis. He puts $500 into his retirement account because he heard it was a good idea on some radio show. In addition to this, he has been saving, on average, a few hundred dollars a month in cash, which he adds to one of his investment accounts from time to time.
Recently, he got married as well, and recently gave birth with his wife to a newborn. His expenses have increased, but he is not really sure how much.
One of the things he loves is watching football, and in particular, going to games at the local stadium. Even with his newborn, he still wants to go to games.
With the increased expense of having a kid, his cash savings have gone to 0, and now, he isn’t getting those additional savings.
A few months later, he realizes he can’t make his usual investment account contribution and is a little puzzled, “oh well, I guess we just bought a few more diapers than I thought, I’ll make the investment next month.”
His next investment is never made because he has no idea how much cash he is saving each month.
Who’s going to be more successful in the long run?
Who is going to be more successful financially in the long run? Jack, the non-tracker, or Jill, the tracker?
I’m going to guess Jill is going to be more successful financially. She knows exactly where her money is going.
Jack, on the other hand, does not know where his money is going.
I hope this example paints a picture of why it’s important to track your income and expenses over time.
You never know when life is going to rear it’s ugly head and throw some unexpected expenses at you. With proper tracking, you can navigate these tough times much easier!
Now, some news for this month!
This November – A Month of Tracking Everything
This November, I’m going to track everything. I track my income and expenses, but only look at these numbers on a monthly basis.
Instead, I’m taking this tracking to the extreme, and will be tracking everything I do.
The different things (and sub things) I’ll be tracking are the following:
- Writing down each transaction
- Sleep habits
- Wake up time
- Bed time
- What foods I ate
- Time at Work
- Day Job Hours
- Various Side Hustle Hours
- Various Exercises (push-ups, squats, planks, rows, etc.)
- What I threw away (either trash or recycling)
Why are each of these categories important to track? Let’s get into it.
As a human, water is incredibly important. Our bodies are made up of over 70% water, and drinking water offers many health benefits.
I like having more energy than having less energy, and I’ve found that drinking more water has helped my energy levels and thinking.
I also will be tracking the non-water drinks I have to understand the full picture of what liquids are going into my body.
As I mentioned above, I track my spending on a monthly basis, but I don’t do it on a daily or weekly basis.
Over time, I want to increase my savings, but if I’m not mindful of my spending habits on a daily basis, this could goal will escape from my grasp.
I will be documenting every transaction I make with my credit card or cash and sharing these expenses with you. This should also make me more conservative with pulling out my wallet!
For a hustler like myself, I spend a lot of time doing different things. At the same time, I recognize it’s really important to sleep and to try to get an appropriate amount of sleep each and every day.
I have a general idea of my sleep habits, but have never actually tracked it.
I’ll be tracking bed time, wake up time, and also any naps in between.
Part of feeling good and being energetic also involves understanding that what goes into my body needs to be good food.
Put junk in, and I’ll get junk out. Put healthy food in, and I’ll feel good!
Again, as I mentioned in the sleep section, I have a decent understanding of what my eating habits are, but I don’t know for sure.
This will give me quantifiable data to help me make better decisions in the kitchen.
Time at Work
Another category which I have a vague idea about but I’m not sure the exact numbers is time at work (or hustling).
I’d like to think I spend about 40 hours a week at work and another 30 hours a week hustling, but I have no idea.
Tracking these numbers will help me understand my hustle habits and help me better align my actions with my goals.
I’ve been lazy with my exercise lately and need to get back to it. With tracking, I’m going to
1. force myself to stay accountable to you
and 2. see how I progress over time.
Also, this will give me data on my steps and time spent working out as I further try to optimize my routine.
Sustainability has been a prominent thought in my mind lately. I’d like to think I don’t have too much trash, but when I stop to think about it, I actually produce a lot of trash and waste.
We live in a world with finite resources. With this, we only have one chance with our trash and habits.
I’m working towards simplicity in my life, and with less dependence on others and commercial products, I should be able to accomplish this.
This starts with thinking about my consumption habits.
By tracking my waste, I’ll be able to better assess my environmental footprint and see what I can improve on.
Let’s Get it Trackin!
I’m super excited to share with you my progress. I’ve already been at it for 6 days and seeing some really interesting trends.
While tracking and sharing my results will be tedious on my end, my hope and dream is that my transparency will inspire you to track and assess your daily habits to become better.
Maybe you’ll see something in your spending habits, waste habits, or exercise habits which can be adjusted.
On a weekly basis, I’ll be providing an update. The first one will come this Friday in the next post!
Thanks for reading!
Readers: what do you track? Is there anything else you think I should be tracking?