FLM Step 21: Doctor, educator, & author on discipline & dedication

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we created a microsite that offers 30 simple steps to financial wellness–one for each day of the month. To enrich the experience, we asked some amazing people to guest post during the month on a topic that is related to the day’s step. Their dedication to financial literacy is truly inspiring! Today, author, educator, and Doctor Taffy Wilkins Wagner talks about documenting your spending.

Discipline and dedication are the watch words for Day 21. Discipline because in the beginning if you are not used to keep track of your expenses on paper, you will have to force yourself to do it. For example, if you are a spender more than likely you have either a pocket or purse full of receipts. You are to be commended for keeping the receipts. However, you are probably not aware of what exactly exist in your account at the time you are shopping. You have comfort in knowing there is money in the account which gives you the green light to shop.

I applaud you for getting to Day 21. This day you are going to turn over a new leaf per se. With your willingness to gain continued financial learning, you are to exercise discipline and write down every expense. I heard someone say “ouch”. I know you have heard the saying “No pain, no gain.” Same holds true in financial literacy and education. In your mind, this will be painful to have to stop and write down all your expenses. Naturally you will be resistant. The idea is to create a new habit of writing it down. It will become a normal regimen probably after seven to ten days.

Resist no more. Your taking the step to write down your expenses every time you spend money is going to serve a bigger purpose than before. Documenting your spending is going to show you in black and white specifically where your money is truly going. Prior to this task, you would not have been able to say exactly where your money went day in and day out. Sure you would have had receipts but more than likely you have automatic withdrawals that are coming out that you are not aware of the day of the month when they come out, in addition to quarterly or annual deductions. Every expense impacts the financial household.

Knowing the realistic picture in finances also takes dedication. This is not something that should be done haphazardly. It is important to be faithful in recording this information. Do not just say you are going to do it and then the first time you forget, throw your hands up and say that’s it. No, pick your pencil or pen and write down the expense as soon as you remember that you did not record it. Give yourself a little bit of leeway because you might not have been documenting your spending before.

Discipline and dedication are traits you want to have for overall financial health and literacy.

Dr. Taffy Wagner is a Certified Educator in Personal Finances and Creator of Money Talk Before The Commitment Walk and Debt Stops At The Altar financial education program for engaged couples and newlyweds. She has been quoted in national magazines such as Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine and Woman’s Day.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.