How to Save Money Part 2: Tracking Your Spending

Money, money, money. Difficult to come by yet so easy to lose! In Part 1 of this post I talked about how to set yourself a personal budget so that you know how much you should be spending and saving each month. In this part of the post I’ll talk about the tips and tricks I use to make sure that I actually stick to that budget from tracking tips to finding delightful discounts!

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Write it Down 
Okay, the very first step to keeping track of your spending is to keep a log. It’s impossible to know if you’re overspending in each category otherwise. This doesn’t have to be long winded at all. I, of course, use a spread sheet because they’re amazing but you can just keep a list on your phone if you like. Just write down the title of each spending category e.g. ‘food’, ‘entertainment’ etc. and the amount you have to spend at the beginning of each month and then every time you spend in this category write how much, on what and the date and deduct it from the total. This will not only help you to see if you’re spending too fast for the month but you can also go back at the end of each month and see the areas that have swallowed up your money.

Tell Someone 

The next thing I like to do when starting a new budget is to make myself accountable by telling someone. The bestie, the boyfriend/husband or your parents. Declaring to someone else that you’re curbing your spending is extra incentive to stick to it as noone wants to look like a failure! You can even go one step further and ask someone you trust to hold onto the extra cash that you hope to save each month to stop you from being tempted – just make sure that it’s someone who will give it back!! 

Use Cash

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend withdrawing all of your monthly spending money (for fear of theft) one way to stop you getting swipe happy is to only take out the cash you need each day. Whether it’s for a work lunch, a food shop or a night out, if I’m on a tight budget I’ll always just take cash and leave my bank card at home. It’s just too tempting otherwise. If you’ve gone to the effort of making a packed lunch then there’s no need to be tempted to follow your colleagues to Wagamama’s on your break. Sworn off Uber for the night and last training it instead? Delete your card details from your Uber account and only take enough cash for a local cab at the other end (saving money doesn’t mean compromising safety so please don’t ever be tempted to walk in the dark to save money). You will thank yourself in the morning.

Remember, It’s the Little Things

A £3 sandwich here, a coffee there, a pack of cigarettes, a cocktail… Individually these things seem like they’d make hardly any difference to your budget but they all add up. Use that £3 to get yourself a cute travel mug (there are sooo many nice ones out nowadays!) and make your coffee at home. There are so many cool YouTube videos sharing recipes for all kinds of Starbucks drinks and the like, home brewed coffee doesn’t have to taste awful. Get pinning some impressive DIY lunch recipes (soggy sandwiches are soooo 2010 dah’ling). Keep a little tally of all the times you chose to save money instead of spending and at the end of the month you can proudly add the extra to your savings.

Dig for Discounts

Do you know all of the discounts available to you? Student discounts/young persons concessions like railcards and Oyster travel. Off peak discounts, loyalty cards etc. Make sure to sign up for marketing emails for any services you use. Yes they’re annoying but they disappear at the click of a button and every know and then they hold little gems. There is always money to be saved if you look for opportunities. For example, can you make use of flexi time at work? If you know you’re going out after work is it worth coming into the office later so that you can travel home after peak time? The office will be quieter, the journey will be more comfortable and you could save yourself quite a lot of money. Or vice versa, it it worth starting an hour earlier and doing 8-4.30 rather than 9-5.30 so that you can leave at 4 and get an extra hour or happy hour in? Time is money!! 

Don’t be tempted to keep up with the Jones’

I used to marvel at how my friends spent on nights out. Then I remembered that many of them live at home and don’t have to pay rent. That’s hundreds of pounds of spending money they don’t have to account for that I do. I wouldn’t give up the freedom of living alone for anything but there is a price to pay – literally. Whatever the reason for a financial divide between you and your pals, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and doesn’t have to make socialising awkward. Just be upfront about how much you can spend right away so that you’re not subject to peer pressure to spend more. Often friends won’t realise that the reason you’re not going in on the bottle of bubbly is not because you won’t but because you can’t. Real friends won’t judge you for switching between cocktails and mocktails or eating early at home and sticking to a side at dinner. You can do your part too, suggest cheap days out, make the effort to find deals or to plan affordable fun nights in. Chick flicks, face masks and DIY takeaway dishes like this chow mein is a favourite of mine – it can be done!

I hope that this has given you some inspiration to start spending less and saving more this summer! Who knows, come Christmas you may be able to avoid that awkward ‘IOU’ moment around the tree and even have enough left over to treat yourself! Do you have any savings tips that you can share? Please do leave a comment below and let us know!!

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x Jade Mercedes Fraser x