Jump Start January: Personal Finance Week: Day 1

Day one of my personal Jump Start January was deliberately designed to be very quick and simple. I’ve started a spending diary. It’s something anyone can do, and it’s as easy as anything.

Just keep a note of everything you spend each day over the next month. It doesn’t need to include your household bills, just the money you spend from day to day on bits and bobs, groceries, coffees, cigarettes, magazines, going out, taxis, gifts and so on. Write it all down there and then if possible, as it’s likely you’ll forget purchases if you leave it for longer than a day or so.

Use a couple of sheets of paper, a notebook, a page in an organiser, a memo list on your phone, or a smartphone app, whatever’s easiest – preferably something you have with you most of the time when you’re out. You don’t necessarily have to buy something especially for the purpose. I’m using the ‘Notes’ function on my phone to keep track, which is free and can be used to email information to my home computer at the end of each week.

Even the most financially aware and astute amongst us can benefit from a few days of keeping a spending diary. They regularly highlight personal weak spots and areas of overspending and they can also be a prompt to start making a few small changes in your behaviour that can really add up over the course of a year.

Meanwhile, I’m off to the sales. Happy New Year to you all.

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  1. There’s a great iPhone app called Cash Flow Free that I use that lets you keep track of daily spending. I put in the amount of cash I spend on lunch every day and then any other payments. You can separate out cash and credit cards too and then send a monthly report to your email address.

  2. In addition to the above, I use the iPhone app Spendometer, which is good although quite simple. I might use the one recommended above! You’d be proud of me Penny, I asked for personal finance pages for my filofax for Christmas 🙂 (and got them!) You’re such an inspiration! x

  3. Hi Jackie and Tamsin, thanks for the excellent app ideas. Must give at least one of them a try.

    Tamsin, very impressed with the filofax! xx

  4. Another iPhone app user here! For the past few months, I’ve been using iBank on my phone and iMac. Using it, you can record all your expenditure but also import electronic statements from your online banking.

    This gives me a fantastic overview of my finances when on the go and I can run quick reports to see where all my money is going each month! It takes about 10secs to enter a payment in the iPhone, so I usually do it while I’m still in the shop.

    Transactions sync from the phone to the cloud and back to my iMac so I always have a back-up.

    Keeping a record of all of this has made me much more aware of my spending habits. But technology aside, the action of diarising how you spend your money, in a notebook or anywhere else, is a very powerful way of raising your awareness of how you make spending decisions.

    Kudos to Penny for this excellent series of posts!

  5. Hi MacPsych – thanks for the tip about iBank, must have a look at it this weekend. Keeping everything backed up regularly is really important, so it might be the one for me…

    Didn’t keep a spending diary last year, but used to be quite dilligent about it and have to agree that it makes you think before you spend.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying the posts.

    P xx

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