Simple Living – The Spending Diary

I am thoroughly hopeless at keeping a track of my outgoings, in part that is because of my ‘head’  problems but mostly it is just because life is going on (which is preferable to it not going on, of course) and i tend to stuff receipts in vases and boxes and drawers and just about anywhere else i can find handy to deposit them when i get home from shopping.  Often though i find that without the ‘evidence’  of what i have spent, in front of me,  i forget what i have spent and sometimes because i forget, i think i have more money than i actually do, and that can sometimes lead to spending more than i actually can afford to.

Well, that’s the bad news.

Now for the good news…I am determined to make 2009 different.

I’ve purchased a diary for £1 and I have begun to write in it every time i spend something.


I don’t carry it with me when i am out because it is too bulky, but as soon as i get home i empty my purse of all the receipts i got when i made a purchase, and i write them in my diary straight away before i squirrel the receipts away in jars and boxes and the fruit bowl (for shredding sometime later, always later!)

Well, we may be barely 2 weeks in to January but i have to tell you folks that this is really helping me a lot even in this short amount of time, so i’m sharing this idea with you in the hope you might find it helpful too.

Some more good news for those of us trying to live within our means is that you don’t even have to purchase a diary to start off your record of spending. You can start right now using a cyber alternative I came across the other day, yes, it’s a virtual spending diary!

I prefer to use a diary i can see and touch and  because i am too undisciplined to log on spend after daily spend and tap in my expenditure, but i can imagine that it works just fine for a lot of people.

If you find a written record helpful i’ll tell you that I purchased the only diary i could find cheaply before the January sales kicked in, but  a notebook would work just as well.  It doesn’t really matter what you record your daily outgoings in or on, just so long as you do it.


As i said earlier, i’ve already noticed a difference. When i see my spendy ways clearly written down (okay, scrawled)  in front of me, it can actually be quite the ‘wake-up’ call to the uneccessary purchases i can be prone to making…and I already  thought I was quite thrifty, apparantly I have a whole lot more to learn about the meaning of the word!

God Bless!

p.s. I have a LOT more money saving/household hints and tips and i will be posting at least one of these kind of posts a week, so stay tuned if you are interested!

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22 Responses to Simple Living – The Spending Diary

  1. Squelly says:

    Wow! This is very brave indeed- I need the courage to undertake something like this!

  2. Sarah says:

    Wonderful idea – quite clever – and I pray it helps you! Thank you for sharing it and I look forward to reading more tips in the future! God bless, Sarah

  3. I have been writing my expenses in my planner this year. Except for checks, which are already recorded in the check register. Just the idea that I have to WRITE IT DOWN makes me think twice!

  4. Owen says:

    Happy self revealing writing to you.

  5. Adrienne says:

    Good for you…

    I have found that having a list when shopping helps but the ultimate in saving happens when you don’t go in the store at all. You don’t strike me as the type of person who just cruises around stores but lots of women do. I broke myself of that habit years and years ago.

  6. Mimi says:

    I think tracking one’s spending (even of cash) is the first step, and one that we need to consistently do.

    Good for you!

  7. Suzanne says:

    I know that I need to do this and you know why?
    I think it would not only be good for me, but how will it help our children if they “see” us doing this. Just recently, my most sensible acting young adult child made her second biggest mistake and it had very much to do with exactly what you were talking about…losing receipts..putting them here and there
    and saying…I’ll do that later… The first time she messed up it was almost worth over $200 in charges against her account. Her dad went down and helped her out and the banker was kind enough to only hit her up for about $100…two years later, she messed up again. Yes, it could have been sooner, but it was for $100 this time and they didn’t forgive any of that and the week before she got her first speeding ticket.
    Her car drives like a dream and she really didn’t notice..I believe her..she is a really good kid, but I told her..the Lord let you get a ticket this time and may have saved your very life! Now, having complained about all of this, I mess up too..ALOT, so back to agreeing with doing this with you..well, thanks for the idea..hope we both do well at it and our kids learn something from us by watching us jot these things down. I also agree with the idea that maybe it will incline us to look for more sales … you know a challenge to how much better we can do.
    Its alot like the Weight Watchers that I did recently..I’ve learned some really good steps there.
    Good post!

  8. Therese says:

    Last year I started keeping an excel budget on our computer and kept a running tab all the time of how much money we had and how much had been spent. It was great. I always knew when Steve asked me if we could afford something and we ended the year with more money than before. I have continued with it this year. It is a lot of work to keep track of all our money but really worthwhile.

  9. Maggieclitheroe says:

    Yes, it’s a great idea, unfortunately, I keep losing the book along with the receipts! LOL.
    Must try harder
    Must try harder
    Must try harder
    Keep posting those handy home hints, Deb, I love them, and I know one day I’ll put them into practise too – sigh –


  10. I love money saving tips. I should be logging every purchase. It’s never been a problem before, but with a car and so many stores at my fingertips, shopping might just become a problem if I am not careful. Luckily I just stay in most days, that way I am not tempted to shop, but going out and about there are so many ‘little things’ that end up costing a lot in the end.

  11. *wonders if this thing just ate my post*

  12. Aparently it did since the previous one did appear. I just wanted to say that it’s a great idea and something I should pay attention to, especially now that I have my American drivers licence and shops right at my fingertips. I stay home most days, so then temptation keeps at bay, but when I’m out and about there are just so many little things.

  13. Cathy says:

    God be with you in your perseverance! Without Microsoft Money I am totally inept!!!

  14. Holly says:

    I’m not sure if you are intending to use your records to create a budget (or if you already have a budget in place), but one popular method that has always appeals to me is the envelope method. You have you budget worked out, you withdraw your cash, and you separate the cash into labelled envelopes. So if you budget says only $400 for food, then your “food” envelope has that $400, etc. You then use your envelopes to shop, for instance if going to buy groceries, pick up a few DVD rentals, and fill up the petrol tank you would take your food, entertainment and fuel envelopes. You keep a running tally on the back of each envelope. When an envelope is empty, that’s it for the month (some people say to keep an extra envelope with maybe $20-$40 that can give you some wriggle room if you run out in one envelope, but apart from that you are not meant to borrow from one envelope to top up another).

    The theory is that you will reassess your budget at the end of every week and realise which areas you are underestimating and which you are overestimating. You can then give yourself more money for certain areas or make lifestyle choices that would make things balance better.

    I haven’t tried this method. My current expenses are fairly simple. I pay board, buy groceries (but I’m a beans, rice and chocolate kind of girls so that’s fairly easy), pay for fuel, car insurance and registration, and pay for my cat’s food and vet bills. I hope to buy my first home in the next six months so it will be a huge transition for me so I have vague ambitions of putting the envelope method to test.

  15. antonia says:

    i am the same with you with reciepts; I have them all over the place!

  16. Karen says:

    You can also get Open OFfice, a microsoft works compatible suite, COMPLETELY FREE from

    It comes with a spread sheet and all the other goodies and regular product updates. Save yourself a bundle of money.

  17. Moni says:

    Good for you for taking charge of your income/spending!

  18. good for you

    I think a diary works best – rather than a notebook- because each week is set out on a page and you can see if there are any patterns emerging.

    We defrosted our freezer a few days ago (very cold spell here) and one way we’re saving money right now is using what we already have in the freezer rather than waiting for a ‘rainy day’

    today for example we had pork chops. Instead of one each I used 2 for three of us. That worked well – we had jacket potatoes with it and salad stuff. very nice.

    I’ve also promised myself not to buy online for a while (it’s all too easy for those things to creep up and up -and not go into the budget book) … but food is one of the biggies in our budget (as is heating and running the car) so we’re trying to tighten the belt. Today for example I’m walking to church instead of taking the car -that’s good for my health too but of course I like just jumping into the car esp when it’s minus a lot outside

  19. ukok says:

    I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to reply to comments here, please forgive me. One of the things i miss about blogger is that the comments box opened up separately on the screen . With wordpress i have to scroll up and down to read and then respond to comments and often my numbskull brain loses track of where i am at.


    i had to work myself up to it too. I had been thinking about it for a while but had the perfect opportunity presented to me on the 1st January! I would really recommend it. I’ve only been using the spending diary for the last 18 days but i am already seeing the benefits. Go for it! You have only money to gain!


    thanks so much for your support and encouragement, it is very much appreciated 🙂


    you have hit the nail on the head, it really does make you think twice about spending when you know you have to write it down!


    You are right, i am learning things about myself with every step along the ‘simple living’ walkway.


    You’re absolutely right about that, i can not shop without money and i am no window shopper. Shopping when i can’t afford to frustrate me, whereas if i don’t put myself in the path of temptation, I don’t screw up my finances as much! Funny enough i wrote a draft post along similar lines only the other day…you must have been reading my mind girlfriend!


    i agreee, especially when what one is spending is the banks and not even one’s own money! credit can be just as much a curse as a blessing, if not more so…


    I know it’s hard to see the Lord’s will in us getting things like speeding tickets when we are usually so keen to stick to the speed limits, but i can certainly see that this might have put the ‘frighteners’ on your dear daughter, to see how easy it is to just press on the pedal a little too hard and without even realising it, becoming a little distracted maybe, and breaking the speed limit. It’s easy done, i have had ‘just’ caught myself on more than one occasion, just when i was going a little over the limit, thankfully i have been able to slow the car down in time …but all it takes is a unmarked cop car behind you or a speed camera hidden somewhere (we have quite a few of those over here) and before you know it you are getting a penalty point on your license and a speeding fine.

    I hope you are right that our kids will learn from such housekeeping/finance keeping ways that they see us embacing. I have a feeling my son is going to let money slip like sand through his hands when he is older, but my daughter is far more careful, she won’t spend a quid if she can get someone else to buy something for her LOL!!!

  20. ukok says:


    I think that it’s a really good and responsible thing to do for you to keep a check on your outgoings for the family. Many wives and husbands spend frivolously or buy things in secret…i used toknow someone who told her husband her outfits were a tenner (£10) off the market, but really they would cost £100 instead from Next or Wallis or Principles (mroe expensie clothing shops over here).

    Well done to you!


    i’m sorry, for some inexplicable reason your posts went to the spam box insyead of posting on the site!

    Hopefully it is now sorted.

    You are so right about small purchases adding up and really taking a chunk of the budget if we are not careful!


    good on you for using software to keep a record of your outgoings, i tried it for a while but couldn’t always be bothered to log on to update my finances. Well done to you!

  21. ukok says:


    i know what you mean, this might not last long with me, but that’s whyi bought a bright red diary, it’s more difficult to lose 😉


    the envelope idea is a really good one. I might think about that myself, though i don’t like carying large amounts of money, as a tubby sluggish kind of person i would be a sitting duck for a bag snatch!

    I hope you achieve your goal of getting your own house in the next 6 months. And oh yes, chocolate is scrummy!


    Then i am in very good company dear!


    that’s a great piece of software…and for FREE! I love FREE! Thanks Karen, i’m sure it will help anyone who i interested in this kind of thing!


    thank you!It’s god to hear from you 🙂


    Good for you for implimenting all these new ways of economising and cutting out uneccessary expenditure. I also have been serving less meat with our meals…o serve big meals anyway, but i have decided that there i no way we need to eat so much meat with our meals, and it will spread the cost too hopefully so that it costs less per month to feed the family (and will be better for the waistline too).

    Let’s hope we both keep this up eh 🙂

  22. Pingback: Simply living | Great Life Debt Free

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