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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
52 WEEKS TO FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION: #7 Counting Your Money Calories

Several years ago, I participated in a 10-week program of nutritional counseling and exercise at a local gym.  My measurable goal was to lose a certain number of pounds during that 10-week period.  The nutrition counselor had me keep a food log.  In it, I had to write down EVERYTHING I ate or drank meals, snacks, booze, EVERYTHING.  She also taught me how to roughly measure the calorie content of my food intake, and had me record the calories consumed next to the food item that produced those calories.
What an eye-opening experience that was!  You don't realize the quantity of food you can mindlessly shovel into your mouth until you have to account for it and report it to someone the next week!
But it worked.  I did achieve my weight-loss goal.
During these tough economic times, my family has decided that we need to engage in a "spending weight-loss program", if you will.  We are seriously looking at where we spend our money, and how much we spend in each of our spending categories, to see where we can "trim some fat". 
Another eye-opening experience!  I didn't realize how much I was spending on a Starbucks coffee here, a Panera bagel there, a Big Gulp Diet Coke to keep me awake on the way home after working with clients all day, and fast-food lunches because I didn't plan ahead and pack my lunch until I started keeping track of my spending.
Calories In and Money Out.  Both are way-too-easy to do.  But both can be controlled by a few simple actions:
         Maintain a vision:  Less flab on my stomach and more money in my wallet
         Awareness of what you're thinking about doing:  Going to eat that donut?  Then be prepared to write it down in a food journal, along with its calorie count (which happens to be 230).  Too disorganized to make your lunch?  Then write down how much you spent for lunch at Burger King.  You'll find that the very fact that you will have to keep track of your purchases will cause you to pause and think for a moment about whether or not to make the purchase.
         Practice integrity in the moment of choice:  Remember the old refrigerator sign that said, "A moment on the lips, forever on the hips"?  We need to ask ourselves, "Is it worth it?  Is it worth foregoing our vision of ourselves in a bathing suit this summer to indulge right now?  Is it worth it to spend our hard-earned money on a whim?"  Sometimes our answer may be "yes, this time it is worth it".  But it needs to be a conscious choice a weighing (no pun intended) of immediate gratification against future goals.
Your Homework for This Week:
         Track your spending.  Keep a sheet of paper in your car, purse, or wallet.  Write down every penny you spend (cash, check, debit card, and credit card purchases).
         At the end of the week, categorize your purchases and total each category (ex:  gas, dining out, etc.)
         Think about your financial goals.  How would making changes in your spending habits help you achieve them?

posted on: 2/22/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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