Then one day I made a commitment to simply journal about whatever I needed to work on that day, no matter how silly or trivial it seemed. Even if I only wrote two sentences, I wrote. I made lists, tracked various aspects of my life, and sometimes just doodled and wrote nonsense. I’ve been keeping a journal now (consistently) for over ten years. Most of it makes sense only to me, but that’s okay.
Over the years I’ve realized that there are many different ways of journaling, many of which can be beneficial to your finances and career. You can devote all of your efforts to just one of these things, or you can do many of them simultaneously or at different times. If you want to improve your life and your finances, try keeping some of these types of journals.
Many people do this to find out where their money is going. Writing down every expense shows where the unnecessary spending is occurring and helps you eliminate it.
I am easily distracted and it sometimes creates problems with my work. I’ve taken to writing down how I spend my time in my journal. I track how many hours I worked (and on what so I have a record), how many hours I watch TV, how many hours I mindlessly surf the Internet, etc. This helps me find the time sinks in my life and eliminate them. It’s amazing how much more time I seem to have when I’m tracking and eliminating the wasted time.
If you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier, tracking your food intake can be helpful. You’ll see where you’re slipping up and what can be improved.
I love to track my goals. I set small goals, such as for daily word counts, and large goals such as finishing a book by a certain time. I track my progress in my journal. It keeps me accountable and, on days where I’m not feeling so great, I can look back and see how far I’ve come.
Tracking Medical Symptoms
Whenever I have a medical issue, I track the symptoms in my journal. It helps me identify any triggers and helps me track the problem so that I can better explain it to my doctor. This helps her make a quicker diagnosis and results in less wasted money and appointments for me.
Writing down the things you want to buy or do (including pictures, if you want) gives you inspiration to work and save toward those things. Sometimes, after something has been on my want list for a while, I’ll realize I just don’t want it anymore. This is better than having bought it only to discover later that I didn’t really want it.
Journaling can be cheap entertainment. Writing, doodling, creating stories, or simply dreaming can be a fun way to pass some time.
If you’re trying to work more exercise into your life, an exercise diary can keep you accountable and show you how you’re improving over time.
If you’re saving toward something like a vacation, new car, or new home, it can be helpful to write down all of your savings. Don’t just write down the amounts, but also note where the money came from. For example, if you gave up your daily coffee and put the money in the vacation account, write that down. It’s inspiring to see that you can cut out that less important item in order to make your bigger dream come true. And there’s nothing like seeing your savings grow over time.
Motivation and Clarification of Thought
Writing down your goals and dreams for any area of your life can provide motivation for achieving them. Seeing your progress, identifying your stumbling blocks, and noting small achievements along the way can keep you moving forward. Through your writing, you can start to see patterns and problems that aren’t obvious. (http://www.savingadvice.com/2009/01/28/103994_journaling-for-financial-health.html)
If you need to work through some feelings, there’s nothing better than a journal. You can get everything out without fear of judgment or hurting someone else. Of course, if you’re seriously depressed or suffering from some other mental illness, seek professional help. But for smaller issues and concerns, a journal can help you through it.
If you want to make your thoughts public, you can start a blog. If you get enough traffic you can sell ads and make some money. If you have a really unique life, you might be able to publish a memoir that will earn you some money.
Whether times are good or bad, it’s always a good idea to remind yourself of the many things you have to be thankful for. Practicing gratitude can make your financial problems easier to bear and make you remember what’s important in your life. Who knows? It might even mean more prosperity down the road.
Improve Your Skills
If you’re a writer, poet, musician/lyricist, or artist, you can use your journal to practice your skills. Write, draw, practice, and try out new ideas in the pages of your journal. Even if you’re not in a creative profession, you can use a journal to work through new product ideas, marketing strategies, inventions, or business ideas.
Whenever I have an idea, whether it’s for a work project, something to do to the house, or something I run across on the Internet that I want to consider later, I write it in my journal. This keeps me from forgetting that great idea and it keeps reminding me of the things I need to do.
How you keep your journal is up to you. I prefer pen and paper, but many people prefer the computer. You can use a word processing program or a more specialized notebook/journal software package. Do whatever is comfortable for you. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick with it long enough to see the benefits that journaling can bring to your financial life.
(Photo courtesy of JoelMontes)