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.

Control Your Finances with a DIY Spending Journal

  • 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.

  • Learning

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.

  • Memory

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.

  • Distraction

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:

  1. I calculate how much money I have available each month. This goes in under “Funds“, or what some may refer to as income.
  2. 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“.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Monthly Overview - Spending Journal
I created a January overview but then wrote all over it already so have had to post my blank February overview instead. 😛

Yearly Bills Tracker - Spending Journal

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)
  • Price

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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  1. kelroot4

    Thank you, finances is one of my new years resolutions and this is very helpful.


    1. MsMamaBean

      You’re welcome!! All the best with it and hopefully we’ll be able to get better at it. Let me know if you have any other tips that would be great! X


  2. Cristine

    Understanding the how’s ans why of spending are tools more people need to learn. Good luck with your journey


  3. Magen Golden

    This is a lovely idea. I am starting the new year out with a strict budget.


    1. MsMamaBean

      That’s great! Having an idea of what you need and how much you can spend just focuses you from them on! Good luck with it and I hope you do well.


  4. twotinyhands

    Knowing what and why you spend is so important!! Thankfully we’re pretty good here and don’t need to spend heavily and we’ve got some easy real good shopping habits! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬


    1. MsMamaBean

      That’s great! I need to get into this good spending habit too!


  5. Vivian

    I’ve tried budgeting apps and excel spreadsheet countless times in the past to track my spending, and you’re right, the distractions are endless! Such a good idea to put pen to paper instead! Yours reminds me of a bullet journal, love it!

    Vivian | LIVE IN LOVE
    IG | @viviyunn_



    1. MsMamaBean

      Thanks! The inspiration did come from a bullet journal as I liked the simplicity of it. Thanks for stopping by x


  6. Marya The BeauTraveler

    hey, thank you so much for this! if there’s anything that i lack of, that would be my financial skill as i’m a sucker to keep track on my spending. i’m trying to be more careful with it this year, so maybe i should give your diy spending journal a try for my daily basis. thanks a lot! 😀


    1. MsMamaBean

      Give it a go and see if helps you! 2 weeks into January and I feel like it’s made me way more acute of how much money goes out!


  7. Dee Jackson

    I completely agree that writing things is better for my brain because it reinforces the information. I think having the spending journal would really benefit me.
    https ://


    1. MsMamaBean

      Journals in general are great but something that’s targeted at what you want to change or be aware of is really useful. Give it a go and see if it can help you out! X


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