So yesterday I caught up with a friend for coffee. $4.
Oh and I had cake… $6.
Then I took my son to the mall and saw a cute little t-shirt on special. $15.
On the way home from work it was hubby’s turn. He filled up the car with petrol – and bought a packet of chips and a drink. $8.
So, one day and over $30 in incidentals.
Now, many of you will be saying, well a girl’s gotta see her friends and a man’s gotta eat. I get that – and I’m all for giving yourself a little treat. The problem is – we already have a budget for coffee catch ups and clothes.
Not to be pedantic, but I have one ‘coffee date amount’ a week set aside, which I’d already used, so this was an extra $10 that hadn’t been accounted for. Over a month, the $5 here and the $10 there all adds up.
So, how do you reign in your spending? Firstly, you have to know WHAT you are spending your money on.
Step #1 What do you think you spend money on?
Take a pen and write down all the things you ‘think’ you spend money on. Food, coffee and vino (they have their own line item!), clothes, petrol, rent/mortgage and so on.
Step #2 Compare what you think with reality
Now, you want to compare your list with what you actually spend money on. So, grab your latest bank statements and a handful of receipts from the bottom of your handbag.
It doesn’t have to be precise, but the aim of this step is to see regular items that you didn’t realise have become a trend in your spending. I did this for myself a few years back and the biggest one for me was going on a Chemist run. Of course, the medicine was a necessity. But the wipes, hand sanitiser, tissues and moisturisers weren’t – or at least not at the jacked up Chemist prices.
Step #3 Find a tool that works for you
Realistically, there is no one size fits all way to track your spending. Sadly, no one has a budgeting angel that is entering each dollar that leaves your wallet into a spreadsheet.
But, you don’t need to be an investment banker to be a budgeting queen! We know this is a huge topic for Women with Cents – so we’ll definitely be giving you lots of info to get on top of yours.
For now, there are some great apps or tools you can use on the computer that won’t cost you a cent. These not only let you track what you do but they can help automate the process as well.
As a starting point, most banks now have great banking apps that allow you to categorise your expenses to track how much you spend. Alternatively if you are after a dedicated budgeting app, Pocketbook and Track My Spend are worth a look. YNAB (You Need a Budget) has also had some great reviews and has a 34 day free trial, but after that it’s a paid subscription, and of course, you haven’t already gotten your hands on our Ultimate Budget Organiser, make sure you do so here.
The minute you shift your focus and think about where your money is going, I can almost guarantee you’ll see less of it leaving your wallet.
And, I believe owning up to it is key! So, once you’ve done steps 1 and 2 please post it in our Facebook group here and tell us what surprises or trends you find! That way we all benefit from each other’s tips and we won’t feel alone with our three cup a day coffee habit!
The information provided by Women with Cents is general in nature. It doesn’t take into account your objectives, personal financial situation or needs. Think of it as educational material in which to help you make more-informed decisions. We recommend you obtain financial, tax and credit advice specific to your situation before making any investments or financial decisions.
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