Track Your Spending for 7 Days – Save Big Money

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Recently, while reading the book, Smart Couples Finish Rich, the author, David Bach introduced the idea of the Smart Couples’ 7-Day Financial Challenge. Since I found this Challenge of value, I wanted to share it with you all tonight.


In a previous post (shown at the link below), I described how small purchases that are made repeatedly on a daily basis, can add up to a ever large sum after several years. This phenomena is something that financial planners (David Bach included) have come to call The Latte Factor.

What is the 7-Day Challenge?
Essentially, the 7-Day Challenge is a personal finance exercise that you can go through where you will religiously track each and every purchase you make for a 7 day period.

The idea is that after you have kept track of your purchases for 7 days, you will then have a good idea about certain areas where you are either 1) spending excessively or 2) can identify as the Latte Factor previously discussed.

My Personal Finance Journey 7-Day Challenge
In his book, David pretty much ends his description of the financial challenge there. However, I feel that several minor modifications can be made to make it a more worthwhile experience.

Since corny phrases are very catchy, we will coin the modified exercise the My Personal Finance 7-Day Challenge.

Steps to complete the Challenge
To move through this exercise, just follow the easy steps outlined below:

  • For 7 days, record each and every purchase you make in the Google Docs spreadsheet I put together at the link below. Do not change your spending habits just because you are doing this exercise.
    • To obtain a copy that you can edit and use to track your own spending, simply save the document as an Excel file on your computer.
  • In the spreadsheet above, there are 6 categories to place each purchase under. Please feel free to adapt these categories as you see fit for your specific situation.
    • Entertainment
    • Housing
    • Transportation
    • Investing/Donations
    • Food
    • Miscellaneous
  • The spreadsheet will automatically generate 1) the total amount you spent during the period and 2) the pie chart and % breakdown of where you spent your money.
  • Once you have your pie chart generated, take an in-depth look your spending. Look for patterns and areas where you may be spending too much. Listed below are some questions to help get you thinking.
    • Do you spend 70% of your money on food? How can that be reduced?
    • Are you spending too much going out to eat?
    • Are your tabs at the bar costing you $500 per week?
    • Etc…

Once you have gone through your results, post a comment and let me know how it goes! 

What categories were you spending too much in? Did you find your Latte Factor? Do you know any one else who falls in to these habits of spending?

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About the Author Jacob A Irwin

Hi folks! My name is Jacob. I am the owner and operator of My Personal Finance Journey. I started this blog in January of 2010 and have enjoyed the journey ever since. Since finishing up graduate school in Virginia in 2014, I have been working in biopharmaceutical development in Colorado. You can read more about me and this site here​. Please contact me if you have any questions!

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Leave a Comment:

Personal Loans says July 12, 2010

Great article! I love the 7 day challenge – this is a great idea! I have been working with the poor through a site I have been running for a few years called and more recently a site called My focus has been helping the poor and this article has some great tips! I will post links back to help others in need. Thanks!

My Personal Finance Journey says July 12, 2010

Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, I looked at your website. Very interesting! Please shoot me an email if you would ever be interested in guest posting!

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