The Modern Pocketbook – A Spending Journal and a whole lot more!

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What is a Pocketbook?

What exactly do I mean when I say “pocketbook.”

If you do a wiki search for “Pocketbook” you will end up on a page detailing the definition of the purse – this is thanks to the original British use of the term.  I don’t see it this way… here’s why:

  1. A purse is small bag in which money and belongings are carried.
  2. Pocket•book broken down gives us the two words – pocket and book.  When these individual terms are defined then rejoined, we see that a pocketbook is simply a book of exclusive notes carried somewhere on your person.

Therefore… my modern version of The Pocketbook is simply the book I carry – on my person – that helps me record, remember, and regulate the goals, events, and details of my life.

Why not just call it “A Planner”?

Good question.

  1. Calling a pocketbook a planner won’t work because each of us already has a preconceived notion as to what a planner is.  For a select few, I’m sure a planner is defined and used much in the same way as I intend to use my pocketbook… but for most it is not.
  2. More importantly, I like to create my own way.  I like to take existing ideas… simplify them, and make them my own.  I am also a proponent of bringing back old fashioned (perhaps forgotten) ways of life that just plain work.  And to me, a pocketbook is all of that and a bag of chips.

Why Carry A Pocketbook?

“A small leak can sink a great ship”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Use it as a guide to reinforce your positive habits and as an obstacle that makes it hard to justify your slip-ups.

See your “Pocketbook” as a symbol of your commitment to achieving your goals – financial and otherwise.  While it may appear like a daunting task… always remember that it’s an extremely high-leverage habit once formed and getting started is as simple as you want it to be.  I started mine as a simple spending journal, then watched it slowly and naturally morph into more of a life achievement cornerstone. Whatever reason you come up with for carrying one you need to carry it with pride!

For starters, a pocketbook can help you:

  • Gain control over your goals – Set long term goals, break those down into manageable smaller goals, then slowly and steadily work to achieve those goals by breaking them down further into daily tasks.
  • Gain control over your finances – You’ve heard it is good to record your expenditures for a month or two, I say keep a daily spending journal for the rest of your life as a way to always stay on top of what is going out.  Reread the quote above…
  • Gain control over your time – Some say, “Time is money.”  I take that a step further and say that “Time is everything.”  It is more precious than gold.  You can always make more money, but you can never earn more time.  Therefore one could convincingly argue that how you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money!

Make the commitment to join me in embracing this lifestyle change.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Why not just Use Computer Software?

Computer software is not the most effective tool this Information Technology guru has found to organize and structure his time, finances, etc.  I have actually found more success in the simple and old fashioned exercise of manually cataloging my days.

Sometimes it is necessary to ignore the buzz and just simplify things instead!

That said, I am never an “all or nothing” type of guy.  I use technology when it delivers the best solution.  Down the road I see myself complimenting my Pocketbook system with a solid, simple, software system… but right now I am focused solely on tweaking and perfecting the use of the book itself.

What Do I Record in My Pocketbook?

I’m glad you asked.  I used the above photo in this post because it captures the birth of my pocketbook.  The entries you see there are the actual and inaugural entries of my new virgin companion.

Although it started as a simple spending journal, it quickly morphed into a book that I intend to use as a way to accomplish my life goals. Here is a list of all of the information I am looking to record in my pocketbook.

  • Spending Journal – As I mentioned above, I keep a daily ledger of every penny I spend.  I organize the ledger by month and include the date, amount spent, what was purchased, and where it was purchased.  Keeping a spending journal is a very powerful exercise and as I mentioned above… it was what started me out on this path to apply the daily record keeping and organization of “a pocketbook” to other necessary areas of my life.
  • Long Term Goals – Although I was never much of a goal setter in my youth, it is a practice I have adopted that is turning me into a much more productive person!  I always liken it to running a race:  if I do not know where the finish line is… how can I pace myself or even know which direction to head in?  The answer is simple – I can’t.  That is why I decided to set long term goals for my life, things that I want to achieve before I pass on to be with my Lord.
  • Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Tasks – I then take those long-term goals from above and break them down into achievable tasks for the applicable time period.  For example, at the end of each month I write down all the goals I want to achieve for the next month.  I also do this at the end of each week, for the next week… and break that down further to plan out each days events.  This is a simple yet powerful concept that allows me to break my larger goals down into attainable daily tasks.  The monthly and weekly tasks are usually broad one sentence statements, but the daily tasks are broken down into notes about the task, time estimated time of completion, then updated with actual time of completion.  I also assign a “critical level” to each task of A, B, and C – where A tasks are the most critical and therefore the first to be tackled each day.  I attribute this system to one of the forefathers of time management – Alan Lakein, who laid out these ideas in his book, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life“.
  • Time Management – Expanding on what I touch on above, I am using my pocketbook to organize my days.  This organization not only includes recording and prioritizing tasks to help me achieve goals, but also the simple yet necessary recording of dates and appointments.  I am the type of guy who needs to structure my days, because if left to myself… I will let my days structure me!
  • Personal and Business – I always reserve a section for both personal and business entries.  The “business” tasks are not things I need to accomplish at my current 9-5 career, but rather my own entrepreneurial endeavors that I am looking to bring about.  For example, I have just begun to use my pocketbook to lay out a more stable and consistent posting schedule for Debt Free Adventure.  In doing this my long term goal is to publish at least one post every weekday.  I break that down into daily writing tasks, which helps me better record and organize my ideas.

Remember… this is a living document!

By no means is any of this set in stone… for me or for you.  A pocketbook is a personal article that needs to be tailored to each individual and their unique goals.  My desire today is to simply give you an idea, a kick in the pants, and a basic outline of how you can get started.

What Should You Use as a Pocketbook?

Your pocketbook can be as cheap or expensive as you would like it to be.  Personally, I use the $10 Day Runner Daily Agenda book.  Some people buy $100+ “planners” while others (including Erica Douglass of Erica.biz) prefer to use a $0.99 spiral notebook, proving there is no correlation between the price of your pocketbook and how effective it is.

For some people carrying a pocketbook with them is more than they want to do, I know it was for me.  That was before I discovered the joys of carrying a rucksack!  Instead of carrying mine in my pocket, I carry it in my rucksack (a.k.a. “man purse”)… which is a whole separate post topic which I will reserve for another day!

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DFA is passionately dedicated to helping people break the bondage of debt and work toward financial freedom using biblical principles.



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