We all have unhelpful financial habits. But without knowing what they are, we can’t fix them! Today I’m going to show you how to track your finances effectively so you can break the spending habits that are holding you back.
Why tracking your spending is beneficial
How can you fix a problem you don’t know about? Exactly - you can’t. Tracking your spending will open your eyes to where your money is really going, so you can tackle anything you want to change head on.
It’s easy to make purchases without thinking of them, especially with contactless payment, so using a spending tracker will help you to be more aware of what you buy.
What to track
Everything! Every bit of money you spend. If you usually pay for things by card, it will be much easier to track things as you can check your bank statement. Most banks will give you the option of downloading your statement as a spreadsheet, so you can simply copy and paste the information into your tracker.
If you pay for things with cash, make sure you get a receipt and you can add everything to your tracker at the end of the week.
If you can, try to remember how you felt when making a purchase that’s a bit out of the ordinary. Stressed? Happy? Sad? Worthless? Our emotions can persuade us to make all kinds of weird financial decisions, so it’s handy to know how we were feeling when we bought something.
Break your spending down into categories
It’s really helpful to put your purchases into categories like food, bills and travel, so you can see which areas you spend the most money on and where you could cut down.
On my spending tracker, you can select a category for each entry from a dropdown menu, and the “Info” tab has a pie chart to show you the percentage you’re spending in each category.
How long to do it for
I would suggest tracking your spending for a month, as most bills are monthly. This is also a good amount of time to see any spending patterns.
What to do with the information
You can use the information you collect from your spending tracker to identify any areas you can cut back on your spending, or change any unhelpful habits you didn’t realise you had.
When I first tracked my income, I found that I was going to the supermarket almost every day to get my dinner and picking up unnecessary bits like sweets and magazines in the process, so I decided to spend some time at the beginning of each week planning my meals and ordering my food shopping online.
I also found that I was prone to ordering takeaways when I was stressed and clothes and makeup if I was feeling a bit rubbish, so I gave myself a new rule of waiting at least 24 hours before buying anything like that to see if I actually wanted it, or just wanted the rush of buying something.
Do you track your spending? What did you find? If you use my spending tracker, let me know how you get on with it!
I'm a financial coach helping women to to manage their money and live fulfilling, financially sustainable lives. If you're ready to take control of your money and reach your financial goals, click a button below to find out how I can help you to master your money.
I also create courses and resources to help female entrepreneurs to manage their business finances.