Anything you measure tends to improve because the very act of measuring something makes you think about it. That rule definitely holds true for spending money. If you’re trying to spend less, make yourself write down everything penny you spend. You can carry around a small notebook or sit down at the end of the day. If you use Quicken or Mint or some other software to track your expenses and/or budget, you can easily track debit and credit card expenses but cash might slip through your fingers.
Many people like to use an envelope system to allocate a set of money to various categories (groceries, eating out, gas, etc.).
I just saw this iPhone (or iPad) app that lets you easily capture cash expenses on the phone. They have a lot of predefined categories so that entering an expense is pretty fast. I also like that you specify every expense as a “need” or a “want.” That alone will make you more aware! The app is called TrackMySPEND and is put out by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. So far it looks pretty neat.
Do any of you track your expenses and if so, how detailed do you get?