4 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Tracking My Spending

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Lessons-from-tracking-my-spendingAfter reading The One-Page Financial Plan last month I resolved to track my spending for the month of May.

I’m using YNAB (You Need A Budget) and I promise to write a thorough review of the system after I’ve used it for a while longer.

So, 8 days in – what have I learnt?

1. I spend more money on coffee than clothes

This doesn’t surprise me. I’m still a grungy backpacker at heart and likely will be forever. Until the soles in Converse sneakers wear through I’m hopeful to keep the clothing category spend to a minimum for this year. Coffee is a different story, it’s a cost I associate with mental health and productivity so I will NEVER scrimp on coffee.

2. I really do spend less when I have to enter every transaction.

We’ve gone from buying lunch almost every day to eating some type of egg and vegetable option (omelette, scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms etc) pretty much everyday for the past week. Since eggs and vegetables go in the Grocery category instead of the Restaurant category I don’t feel bad entering them in.

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My first YNAB pie chart.

3. Not having regular income sucks

I miss regular paycheques! Living off savings and incremental amounts from freelance work, paid surveys and rental income means we don’t get to enter a regular salary or wage amount in the income category. I’m currently entering our projected withdrawal from savings each month ($2500) as income but I can’t wait to have regular income sources again. My pie charts will look so much better.

4. I should have done this sooner

We’ve gone a little cray-cray with the spending since we took off last year. After years of rigid budgeting and saving we completely cut loose and have spent a little more than we expected. I have no doubt we would have a lot more money left in the bank if we started tracking our spending from the minute we hopped on that flight to San Francisco. Lesson learned.

I’m totally hooked on this tracking spending idea. The YNAB app combined with the desktop program makes it easy to keep track of every expense.

Do you track your spending? What has it taught you about your own money habits?

6 thoughts on “4 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Tracking My Spending”

  1. I started tracking our household spending last year and it has been eye-opening! While I had a general idea of our spending, tracking it really helped me (and my husband) become more aware of how much we spend on food and miscellany. I cut back on my lunchtime spending (at work) from about $150 per month to an average of $50/month.

    • Nice one Middle Class! $1200 a year, that’s an epic amount to be saving. Knowledge really is power when it comes to our spending.

  2. We track our spending (but don’t really budget month to month), and it definitely makes us take notice of what we’re spending money on. And I think it helps us lower spending too, since numbers don’t lie and can look pretty ugly if you just buy anything and everything you want.

  3. I’ve been tracking our spending for years. This year, I added a budget and started actively trying to reduce expenses and the two together has been very effective!

    • Sounds like you are on the right track Anne. I can tell this is going to turn me into a budgeting maestro! It’s addictive.

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