You manage what you measure.
As boring and clichéd as it sounds, the above statement is true.
I was resoundingly reminded of this just last week.
My 7-year-old daughter kept a food-diary for a few days as homework. Interestingly when it was completed she changed her mind about having a school prepared lunch going forward. You may recall I’d relented and started paying once more for school dinners. No longer. She now believes a packed lunch is healthier.
Today I’ve added £118 to the balance of cash generated from my Spring Sale. This takes me to £454. Only £146 to reach my self-imposed £600 target.
Would I have persevered with car-booting and eBaying had I not had a target? I’m not sure I would have. Once the initial enthusiasm and momentum had waned, maybe I would have slowed down on the decluttering.
If I hadn’t publically committed to a £50 weekly grocery budget last year, would I still be keeping my costs down? I can’t say for sure. What I do know is some 12 months on I am probably in excess of £2k better off (post tax) than the previous year.
Just 2 little steps, but in the right direction. Reducing spend whilst generating extra income.
What do all these steps have in common?
They were all measured. I set a target for each.
So, the food-diary incident got me thinking. What would I like to improve upon, on the path to a simple life, that may be floundering?
There are a few things. But the most relevant one I’d like to share here.
I’m going to keep a spend-diary. I have done this before. Lately I’ve been wondering whether I am slipping into bad habits that a diary would shame me into rectifying. Or more productively, stop me doing the misdemeanour in the first place knowing that it would be jotted in my little book for the world to see.
I sincerely believe that one of the reasons I am able to curtail spending so successfully is because I rarely carry cash and 90% of my spend is on credit card. There’s one bill at the end of the month, shouting from the rooftops how much I’ve spent and on what. It keeps me accountable.
One month (a long time ago) I spent £50 at the Golden Arches. The shock of seeing it there in black and white resulted in immediate action being taken. I vowed never to see such a figure again spent at a fast food outlet in one month.
I practice conscious spending, but I anticipate that there may be unnecessary spend slipping in. Or so I expect – I can’t say for sure? I love an experiment. So for the rest of the month I will write down everything I spend and analyse it at the end.
How about you? Do you find target setting helps when you need that extra push? How do you manage your spend?