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How to track your spending

Most of us think we have a handle on our spending, but it's only when we track it, that we understand where, and on what, we're spending our money.

Start tracking

Once you've made the decision to start tracking you need to be honest with yourself. Record every penny you spend over a set time. This includes, cash, credit and debit cards, Standing Orders and Direct Debits. Leave nothing out.

  • Decide your timeframe

    Decide the period over which you are going to record your spending: a month, three months or longer. We recommend three months to start.
  • Group your spending into categories

    Using categories, for example, food, travel, entertainment, will help  you see when you spend your money, and what you spend it on. Is the balance right, enough on enjoying yourself and enough to pay an unexpected bill?

  • Record your spending

    • Get a notepad, keep it in the same place, and jot down everything you’ve spent at the end of each day, or you could use your Smartphone notepad
    • Ask for, and keep your receipts to help ensure you forget nothing
    • Speak to your bank, and get access to online banking, or an app, both these will help you see what you’ve spent directly from your bank account.
    • Speak to your credit card provider and get access to your online credit card statement to see exactly what payments you’ve made.
  • Use an online budget planner

    Having worked out how much you spend, you can use the free online budget planner from the Money Advice Service. This lets you enter the details of your income and spending against different categories so that you can plan ahead.

TIP: Setup direct debits to pay your regular bills a few days after your income comes in. This means your regular bills will be paid first and your balance will reflect the money you have left to spend.

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