Do you often get to the end of the month and wonder where on earth all your money went?
It’s so easy not to notice a few pounds here and a few pounds there, but all these little amounts soon add up. I have to admit that I didn’t really start paying attention to where all my money was going until I stopped earning! How backwards is that?!
But when I stop and think about it, it does kinda make sense. When I was earning a full-time salary I didn’t really need to keep track of my spending because I always knew there was enough to keep me going until the next paycheck. But since becoming a stay-at-home-mum and relying solely on my husbands income, I’ve really started to watch where the pennies go. And I learned a very easy way to keep on top of my spending which I’m going to share with you today…
Write down everything you spend as you spend it.
That’s it. Simple as that.
It’s something I adapted from a diet trick I remember reading a while back. People aren’t often aware just how much they’re eating (especially if they’ve a tendency to snack regularly) until they start a food diary and write down everything they eat. Then they get a shock and suddenly realise why they have been putting on weight despite eating healthily. It’s the realisation they need that all those little snacks soon add up.
And that’s the same principle with spending. Sometimes you need to see it written down in black and white to fully appreciate how much is being spent, all those small amounts adding up to huge outgoings by the end of the month.
There’s an app for that!
Now, I don’t carry a notebook and pen around with me to record every purchase. That wouldn’t be practical for me becuase I’d inevitably end up forgetting to take it out with me, or I’d have my toddler having a meltdown several times a day becuase I’m not letting him have my pen as I take notes.
What I use is an app on my phone called Goodbudget. There are many many budgeting apps out there, but I chose Goodbudget becauase of it’s simple user interface and also because it lets me see my spending in graph form which is really useful. I’m a visual person and like to see things in picture form, not jut as words on a screen.
If you get to the end of this post and decide that Goodbudget isn’t the app for you, then I’ve reviewed some other top choices too. I’m sure you’ll find something to suit your needs in this list of tried and tested budgeting apps.
The app lets you set virtual envelope budgets for up to 10 categories (which you choose and name yourself) so you can fully adapt it to where you want to set your budgets.
For example, I have an envelope titled ‘fun money’ where I record everything I spend on ‘fun’ stuff (not the most imaginative name, I know, but this is coming from the person who, as a kid, had a black rabbit called Blackie and a goldfish called Goldie!!). This can be anything from coffee & cake to makeup and has been so helpful in stopping me overspending on all these little things.
The app has a line for each envelope that reduces as you spend and a marker which appears on that line to represent the point in the month where you currently are.
This visual aid helps you see how quickly you’re burning through that envelope and whether you’re on track for staying within your budget for the month or not. It even has a little character that will pop up and give you advice like “you appear to be over budget, stop spending for 3 days to get back on track”.
Once you start recording all your spending like this, it will be so easy for you to see when you’re about to ‘run out’ of money in any given envelope. This will then help you to either re-think your budget or re-think your spending.
It really has helped me stick to my budget each month. Sometimes I forget to use the app and, surprise surprise, those are the times when I totally loose track of my spending. Sure, you can go online to check your bank balance, but the thing I love about Goodbudget is that I can far more easily see the breakdown of how much I’m spending in each category.
So there you have it, one very easy way for you to stop over spending today and start sticking to your budget. Let me know how you get on.