Keeping track of how you spend your money is essential to taking control and making savings.
Often it is the small things that really add up, e.g. magazines, sweets and drinks – just 50p a day is over £180 a year.
A spending diary is a way of recording everything that you spend – especially all the small things so that you can really understand where your money goes and where you can make changes.
Just keep a note book on you and jot down every time you spend – try it for at least a week and see if there are any surprises.
Here is an example of a spending diary to try – spending diary
Review your spending
Once you have your spending diary put aside time to really go through it in detail and think about changes you could make – if you need to cut back try and separate out your wants from your needs.
Remember – a want is something you would like to have (a new TV or meal out) / a need is something you have to have (like food, heating)
Here is a weekly spending summary for you to try.
Use this to make a record of where all the money goes – you will need to collect all the information from your receipts, bills, spending diary, bank statements and so on.
Putting all of the information together like this will help you to work out accurate figures for your detailed budget.
The monthly planner is a type of calendar to help you think ahead when money goes in and out.
Running out of money is expensive if you have to rely on costly borrowing, e.g. payday loans or face unpaid / unauthorised charges from your bank.
Avoid this by planning ahead -use this planner to make a note of the exact dates when money comes in and bills go out. Then you can see in advance if there are any points at which your money may run out before more comes in.
This helps reduce stress and puts you more in control – plus a monthly planner gives you something to talk about with family so that everyone can help ensure that money problems are avoided.
Planning ahead for each month is essential if you are on Universal Credit as you will only receive one Universal Credit payment per month rather than different benefits at different times.
Keep detailed records of everything to do with your money – statements, receipts, letters from Government departments and local council, rent statements, payslips and so on.
Get into the habit of setting some time aside every month to check these :
- Check payslips to make sure you have been paid for the right hours
- Check your bank statement to make sure you recognise all the entries – if there are any you don’t recognise report to your bank immediately as you may be a victim of fraud
- Make sure nothing has changed in relation to your circumstances that could affect any benefits you are due (e.g. number of people you live with)
Keeping these records also gives you a form of identification and will help a lot if you need to apply for extra help, e.g. grants or additional benefits
Always keep any financial records for at least 6 years (bank statements, credit card statements, finance contracts, etc)
Try and keep everything in one place – a concertina folder or large box file is very useful for paper records