Why Expense-Tracking Often Ends in Failure


When it comes to financial duties such as making Roth IRA contributions or transferring money into a savings account, I gladly carry them out with Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan in mind. But ask me to track my expenses and I couldn’t be less enthused.

Following the expense-tracking challenge that the MyBankTracker team undertook, I’ve confirmed to myself how mind-numbing it is to manually log every single purchase — you’ll remember to do it one time and then forget it the next.

One afternoon, I was trekking through Chinatown to pick up a few items in various supermarkets, where cash is the only form of payment. Still early in the challenge, I was motivated enough to pull out the small notepad and pen to jot down my spending.

Then, I proceeded to grab some takeout before heading to the bodega for snacks. With my wallet a little thinner and my hands occupied with bags full of food, getting home was the top priority — tracking expenses was the last thing on my mind.

Before you know it, I’m in the office — reminded of the challenge — trying to recall how much I spent the day before. Since most of my expenditures were made with cash, not a credit card, it isn’t as easy to keep accurate records of my spending.

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