At our next meeting about a month later, the president said that nobody had presented a list of expenses, so he assumed our allowances must have been sufficient.
I could see the embarrassment in the faces of the others in the room. With the task of keeping track of their expenses, those people probably paid more attention to what they were spending money on and realized that many of those expenses weren’t really necessary.
I’ve been to many seminars and seen TV shows about making a personal budget, and while they may offer some good money saving tips and show how to make a fancy budget spreadsheet, I’ve found many of them lacking in the emphasis of accountability. An ideal spending and saving plan doesn’t provide much of a benefit without the ability to compare actual expenses to budgeted amounts.
Without organized financial records in place, people are left wondering, “where did all the money go?” They might make a guess on how much they spent during the past year on clothing, gasoline, or food; but from personal experience, I know those estimates are usually way off. By the way, I don’t think having a year-end spending statement from a credit card company counts as being financially organized.
The best way to organize personal finances is to use a good computer program (I use QuickBooks, and here’s why) that puts together all of a person’s financial information, including bank, investment, loan, and credit card accounts. I began doing this a few years ago, and since then, I’ve been able to solve the riddle of “where all the money goes.”