It’s Lent and Spring and all the lament and renewal that’s been promised. It’s the last Friday of my Spring Break and I get to sit outside overlooking a gorgeous pale pink cherry tree but I can smell the chicken plant on the breeze and I remember my little sister’s Dad working third shift because he likes it and makes more money and I sit here with my pen as my blade and wonder if he’ll ever be free, really free to sit by a flowering tree and know real hope.

I went for a walk across the bridge yesterday and stopped to talk with an ambassador from Child Fund and pledged $33 a month to a 5 year old living in Guatemala, which is where many of my students come from. Feeling free enough in my finances to make this commitment surprised me, but it’s the very reason I believe fiscal responsibility is so important: it enables us to be generous.

I spent most of my adult life feeling like money was scary and out of control because I didn’t have a working system to keep track of everything. But two years into being able to buy a used car on a teacher’s salary, I’m so grateful that I had to share. All it takes is about 5 minutes a day.

This is Part 2 of my Spring Cleaning 2024 series and really it’s the simplest of all. (Read Part 1 here.)

Here’s what I do:

I keep a running Google doc on my laptop and phone. Every time I make a purchase, I enter it into the category. When I max out a category, I highlight it in yellow. It looks like this, minus the yellow highlights which don’t show up here:



$—/car payment on the 15th

$—-/car insurance

$125/gas & parking, oil (6.45?+2+39.88+6+31.67+38.68+39.43=125) (itemized example)


$—- for hulu/disney plus

$—/Apple cloud service

$– EDA



Chiro on FSA card


$— eating out


$10 for church retreat

Income: —–

Tithe: —

Savings: —

Student Loan: —-


When I first started, I simply kept track of my expenses categorically to see where I was. Once I had that starting point, I was able to see where my money was going and make adjustments to fit where I wanted to be. Itemizing entries is optional and only if I feel like I need it to know how much I have left in a given category.

And that’s it! If you find this helpful, will you let me know? Happy Saving! And stay tuned for Part 3 next month.