by K. M. Eldredge
A journal is a multipurpose tool that you can use to keep track of various parts of your life. Here are some ideas for your journal:
Spending Diary - By recording what you've spent on a regular basis, you'll be able to analyze your spending habits and perhaps find an area that you can cut down on. For instance, if you note that you keep going to the convenience store every other day, you might be inspired to head to the grocery store to load up on goodies to eat throughout the week instead.
Life Record - Have you ever wondered what daily life was like in your great-grandparents' day? How did they make their major decisions? What frugal applications worked for them? What were their big spendthrift mistakes? What did they do to enjoy their time and money? If you use your journal as your life record, some day you might help your relatives answer the mysteries of everyday life in our time.
Recipe Guide - You could list your family's favorite recipes. In the event you're sick in bed, Junior might be able to pull together a meal you really enjoy instead of calling out for pizza. Also, you could list the recipes you'd like to try someday. Or record those recipes that just didn't work, so you don't waste money trying to prepare it again.
Dream Listing - This one can be fun. Often dreams are a way our subconscious uses to tell us a message. If you make a habit of studying your dreams, you might learn something you didn't consciously realize, like the fact that you'd rather not move across the country for that new job, or that you can make do with your old car instead of sinking $30,000 into a new car.
Hobby Chart - You could list your projects, the material you used, the cost of the supplies, and the targeted completion dates, and if you gave the projects away as gifts, you could list the recipients. Seeing your progress over the weeks and months can be a source of satisfaction. If you aren't quite where you want to be, then reviewing the journal might inspire you to work at a faster pace.
Goals - Stating your goals is half the road to achieving them. If you review your goals on a regular basis, you might be compelled to do everything in your power to achieve them. For example, let's say that you want to buy a house. List the goal, along with a cost estimate, the date you want to buy the house, and list the steps you need to take in order to make your dream come true.
Brainstorming - As a writer, some of my best ideas come from brainstorming. I'll pull up a page of my journal and scribble out every idea I have, no matter how silly or useless it might seem. Even if the idea doesn't work right now, I might be able to change it so that it works later. This application isn't just useful for writing. You could use your journal to brainstorm ways to raise more money, think of themes for your next party, or list all the possible gifts that you could get someone you love. Or you can make up a wish list for yourself, like I did for my wedding.
Talk to Yourself - You can let your hair down in your journal and no one will be the wiser. Give yourself pats on the back, gossip about your bossy coworker, or just plain gripe. Letting out your negative feelings in addition to reinforcing your self-worth is good for you. If you keep your emotions bottled up, you'd probably encounter negative side effects, so you might as well take advantage of the psychological comfy couch that keeping a journal gives you. In addition, you can pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments. Maybe you got a raise, made a charitable donation, or saved a few dollars on your last hair cut. Chronicle the good along with the bad.
Now that you have some ideas, it's time to look for a journal to put them in. These days you have different options.
The traditional blank book
These are available at a variety of stores with all sorts of colors, covers, and formats. Some places you might want to check include the local dollar store, the big superstore, the bookstore, and even the grocery store. Some are dated, but others give you the convenience of filling in what you want.
A notepad or legal pad
They are cheap alternatives that you can take anywhere without drawing attention to yourself.
A word processing program
Fire up the computer and write away. You could keep different folders, one for each month or interest, or just throw it all into one large file. Using a word processor gives you the convenience of being able to search for items. Be sure to make regular backups.
Journal programs for computers
Some of them have nifty features such as journaling prompts, which are ideas to get you writing. Check sources and read the reviews before you make up your mind.
Online journal sites
Blogs are becoming very popular. Your journal is a website within the main site and you can chose the level of privacy you'd like for each entry. You can keep your entries to yourself, or you can share them with a selection of friends, or you can share yourself with the world. It's up to you. Use a search engine to find the online journal sites that might fill your needs.Whatever you chose to do with your journal, remember that you're writing for your first audience, you. Don't inhibit yourself with the fears of bad grammar or misspellings. Keep one journal for each interest, if that's easier for you to manage. Use your favorite pen, or go find one in colors that you love. Your journal is a tool for you to use. Enjoy.
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