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Spending diary

Using a spending diary could help you spend less and save more

Most of us at some point feel we are spending money on things we shouldn’t or that we can’t really afford. 

Keeping a spending diary may help you identify exactly where you spend your money, change certain spending habits and improve your financial situation.

You may find it a useful way of prioritising what spending is essential and not essential.

How to record your spending diary?

Try to think of a way that fits in with your lifestyle and that is as convenient as possible for you to keep e.g. using a note book, mobile phone or excel spreadsheet. There are smartphone apps available that may suit you.  In order for it to work you must write down absolutely everything you spend and how you pay for it e.g. cash, debit or credit card.  If you forget to carry your spending diary with you make sure you keep receipts for the items you have bought and enter the information into your spending diary at the end of the day.

We recommend you keep your spending diary for at least a month and ideally up to 3 months to obtain a realistic pattern of your spending habits to help you identify opportunities to cut back on.

Diary rules

This is not a test for you to pass or fail it is just a diary to keep to see where your money is going.

Items such as magazine, newspapers, chocolate bars and bottles of water should also be included in your diary. They may cost less than £1 but over the course of the month or year they could add up to more than you would expect.

If you go out for an evening with friends, stay in with a take away or going clothes shopping you should also write down how much money you are spending as it is easy to lose track when you pay by debit card or are socialising and having fun.

The results

Once you have completed your diary for a week or so you might start noticing ways of how to reduce your spending particularly on non-essential items.  

If you need an incentive to continue completing your spending diary you may find it useful to add up how much you would save over the course of the month if you cut back on things like eating out, buying ready meals, clothes, shoes, make up, magazines etc. and think of what you could do with that money if you managed to reduce these spending habits over a year.  

It might be motivating to have a goal in mind such as putting this money towards a weekend break, holiday, using it to pay off debts or saving it for your future.  If you manage to reduce your spending by £50 each month over the course of 5 years you would have saved £3,000.

You might find that once you start writing down everything that you spend, you naturally want to spend less.  If you don’t know exactly how much you spend on certain items each month it can be easy to spend more than you intended.  

If you are willing to make some changes to your spending habits you may find keeping a spending diary can lead to improving your financial situation.  Why not give this a try?