Recessions, Bailouts, Mortgage Crisis, and Credit Crunch describe the symptoms of a dread disease in America today. Namely, there are more people than ever in the USA that are one paycheck away from losing control. This article will show you how to take control of your spending. After thirty days you will be ready for the next step in personal financial management.

Difficulty: This is tough. It will require discipline to document every dollar you spend.


Never Doubt Yourself.
Today is the Day You Take Charge of Mr. Washington

Things You'll Need:

  • Your Checkbook
  • A notepad that stays with you.
  • Pen, Paper
  • A spreadsheet program (optional)

Take a deep breath. For the next thirty days you will look reality right in the face, and then you will write it down. Your personal mortgage crisis. Your credit card debt. Your very financial existence is going under the microscope.

Beginning now you will write down every expense no matter how small. Use your checkbook for the checks you write and the notebook for cash transactions and credit card purchases. If you buy a magazine, write it down. If you buy a car, write it down. Big Mac? Stick of Gum? Nickle Vending Machine prize? Write them down. You are documenting your spending habits and only total honesty will help. Write down all transaction and assign each a category such as food, movies, snacks, diners, fuel , auto expenses, clothing, gifts, charity, impulse etc.

At the end of the day, put these transactions into your spreadsheet or on notebook paper. You must account for every penny you spend and place it into a category. Don't worry if you change categories later. "Gas" can become "auto expenses" and it won't effect your karma.

On a weekly basis add it all up and subtotal it. At the end of day thirty, total all the subtotals and see at what happened to your money.

Ask yourself where your biggest spending came from. Was it impulse buying or fast food for convenience sake? How about clothing or dates? Are you spending money you don't have? Credit card debt cannot be fixed if you don't know what you are doing with the cards. Finding out how you spent your money is the first step to gaining control of your money.


  • You can use Google Spreadsheets or OpenOffice Calc for free.
  • Don't get discouraged. Don't try to suddenly become el cheapo. Just document the spending in your life for thirty days.
  • Remember that this only the beginning of a huge improvement in your life.