Control Your Finances With A DIY Spending Journal
The new year calls for new resolutions, but this year. I am not setting any. However, I recognise there are some things in my life that needs improvement. Today I’m focusing on my financing. Saving is something I’m determined to get right, especially with a small family now, spending can get out of hand pretty easily. In the pass, we have tried endless times to document clearly where our money was coming from and going to. We have used excel spreadsheets, systems and apps. But I still think the best way is to use a written spending journal (or Kakeibo). Call me old school.
In this increasing digital world, I still find my lured back to my trusty notepad and pen. Psychologically writing things down in a journal has its benefits.
Helping you think of the bigger picture
Writing down goals and dreams can help you scale them more resourcefully. Thinking of taking that round the world trip? Or saving for a family holiday or Christmas preparation?? Whatever your big ticket item is, write this down along with some details on where the money would go. This would help you visualise it and achieve your savings target.
Our brain associates learning far better when we write them down rather than just looking at it. Note taking in your school days weren’t good for nothing exercises! Additionally, being able to see where your spending is going means you can start to learn and identify bad behaviours towards money and seeing who or what influences your spending.
According to this article, writing things down actually makes you remember those things more easily. Logging our spending will make us more aware of our finances. So next time you pick up another handbag or shoe, you’ll be reminded that you only have X amount left this month. You’re more likely to be motivated to save for your needs, rather than impulse buy because of a short term want.
Technology provides us with too much distractions and that’s one thing we can all do without or at least less of. Using an App to log spendings? What’s that notification pinging at the top? Or adverts popping up in free apps asking you to download this war/shooting game? Using Excel on your desktop/laptop instead? Facebook is just a few clicks away and while you’re at it, you’ve received another email that you just can’t ignore. Give your eyes a break and move away from technology.
Give your brain a rest to function better in the future
If none of the above has appealed to you, then maybe knowing that you’re helping your poor little over stimulated brain rest by unloading ideas, goals and dreams may tip you in the right direction. Our brain is just like a computer RAM and clearing it for more space to fous on other things that may require your attention is especially beneficial for your mental and emotional state.
Before I start documenting my spend
In my monthly overview page, I log the following:
- I calculate how much money I have available each month. This goes in under “Funds“, or what some may refer to as income.
- Then I write down all the monthly fixed expenditures such as mortgages, utility bills, travel expenses etc. under my “Yearly Bills Tracker” and “Monthly Spend“.
- Next I write down a “Savings Target” for the month and at the end of the month I can calculate whether I’ve hit this target by deducting my spend against my funds.
- Finally, this will then leave me with the amount I have “Remaining” to spend whilst saving money. If there isn’t any, I just adjust my target and spend for next month and to make sure I hit that target I set!
P.S. You may adjust some of the items recorded to your own preference and also include loans, credit card repayments etc in your overview.
How I record my spending
I want enough detail so that I know where the money is going and what it’s for, but not too much so that I’m overwhelmed and put off this whole exercise. The whole point is being consistent and following through. Therefore I will include details such as:
- The Date
- The Description
- Category (Entertainment, Eat out, Grocery, Miscellaneous such as gifts, charity etc)
What’s so important about a Spending Journal?
Not only does it show you what you’re spending your hard earned cash on, but it also guides you through the process of understanding your spending habits and how you can improve, day-by-day. So at the beginning of each month, sit down with your spending journal (or Kakeibo) and set goals for the next month and beyond. It is about time to switch that mortgage to another provider? Or cancel that gym membership that you’ve used once in the past month? Not only does this empower you with the knowledge that your aims are achievable, but also guides you to spend on the things that really matter to you.
I hope this helps and I would love to hear your tips on how you try to control your spending.
Another thing I really want to improve in my life this year is my relationship with God, and I am starting with this book Life Application Study Bible. I will talk a bit more about this in another post. 🙂
Get yours here:
Thanks for reading and until next time…
Love, MsMamaBean x
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