At the start of June I vowed to keep a spending diary with the intention of finding out just where all my money goes! Read my blog post all about it here. I started keeping track of receipts and even small payments like buying a stamp or a cup of coffee – it’s amazing how quickly all those little 50ps and pounds add up! At times it was difficult to even remember what I’d spent during a day out but the money was no longer in my purse so I had to really think back and jot down all the little things I’d paid for from the car-boot sale or food that I’d bought at the end of every day. It sometimes slipped my mind in the evening and I had to fill in my diary the following morning, but all in all I managed to keep up with it and I’ve learnt a few things from it. By the end of the month, it just seemed as natural as writing a normal diary at the end of the day, so I’m sure that I’ll stick with it in future!
The whole #SpendingDiary plan was inspired by some research by the Children’s Society that 1 in 5 families in the UK are struggling with financial problems. I’d read the report on the Wilson Field blog and thought about what I could do to take control of my own personal spending. So at the start of June I not only started accounting for every penny that I spent, but I also started making proper lists for shopping and household items. Rather than simply browsing the shops and picking up whatever I like the look of, I now head into the town centre with a list and I shop around to find those items – and I stick to it! There have obviously been a few unnecessary items that I just liked the look of – eg a pair of My Little Pony PJs reduced in Primark when I’d gone in for leggings and a vest – but there’s no need to deny yourself the treats that you really want or miss out on a bargain just because you’re keeping an eye on your pennies! It’s more about keeping track of money in order to stop 0ver-spending and getting a shock at the end of the month.
June was a particularly difficult month, because my car was due its MOT and tax so that’s extra expense on top of my usual bills and day-to-day spending. Luckily, I’d put a little aside over the previous months so that I could afford to pay for any work that needed doing on the car and now I have a vehicle that will hopefully be usable for the coming year and I can start saving for next years tax and MOT!
I’ve also used my new shopping list pad to make sure that my food shop is as thrifty as possible. I’ve been writing down what meals I intend to cook during the week and only buying the ingredients for those specific meals. I’ve found that my supermarket bill has gone down a little and I’m not throwing out excess food because it all gets used up in the dishes. That doesn’t mean that I’ve not strayed from my list while shopping when I’ve seen a bargain: My favourite crackerbreads were reduced to less than half price because the packaging was being rebranded so I managed to buy every packet on the shelf. That may sound excessive but I eat this product every day for my lunch and I know that I will need them over the coming month so I’ve managed to save and buy in bulk. All this talk of food is making me hungry! And that’s another thing: I’ve been making sure that I’m not shopping while I’m hungry because I know that’s when I start grabbing crisps and cookies instead of sticking to my list.
Overall I’ve learnt that by simply keeping count of what I’ve been spending has made me a more careful spender. I’ll really think about it before making a purchase and I know how it’ll affect my bank balance before I buy it rather than getting a surprise statement at the end of the month. I’ll definitely stick with my #SpendingDairy and I’d love it if you have a go at keeping track of your finances too. Tweet me @Cassiefairy #SpendingDiary and let me know how you get on!