Track your spending
You may think that spending on big things is what gets you into
trouble with money. But often it is the everyday little things that
end up costing you more.
It's good to keep track of where your money goes so you don't
live beyond your means. Here are a few things you can do to make
sure your spending fits in with your money plan.
Match your budget with your bank
One way to keep an eye on your spending is to match your budget
with your bank statement. Look at the money coming into your bank
account and the money going out. Use both your transaction account and credit card
statements to see if your budget truly reflects your
If you haven't done a budget yet, use our budget planner to plan
where you want your money to go.
Do a spending diary
Another way to work out where your money is going is with a
spending diary. Make a note of everything you spend for one pay or
benefit period or at least a week. This will only take a few
minutes a day.
Here's what to do:
- First, decide how long to track your spending (for example, for
a week, a fortnight or a month). Choose a timeframe you know you
can stick to. The important thing is to do it every day.
- Get a small notebook to use as your spending diary. Take it
with you wherever you go. Or, if you have a smartphone, download
our free spending tracker app TrackMySpend.
- Record everything you spend (for example, groceries, bus
tickets, magazines, clothes, bills). Do this straight away. Keep
receipts if you buy a few things at once.
- Don't try to alter your spending habits during the tracking
period. Just notice where your money goes.
- At the end of the tracking period, add up everything you have
spent. Now you have a good snapshot of your day-to-day
Case study: Donna's discovery
kept a spending diary for a week and found she was spending more
than she realised on small things like takeaway coffee and lunches.
So she decided to make two simple changes. She started making her
coffee at work - saving her $70 a month. And she began bringing her
lunch from home three days a week - saving $90 a month.
After 2 months Donna had saved $320, which she put towards her
credit card debt.
Check for spending leaks
What would you do if you had $840? Use it for a holiday? Put it
in a savings account? Pay off your credit card? Or buy a cup of
coffee? That's right, just one $3.50 cup of coffee every morning
will cost you $840 over a year.
Spending leaks are those small regular purchases, like a morning
cup of coffee, that add up over a period of time. If you're trying
to save some extra cash, think about your spending leaks.
Because spending leaks are often the fun things like drinks or
entertainment, don't cut them out completely. Instead, choose just
one or two things to cut back on. Or think of ways to spend
- Instead of spending $3.95 on a magazine every week, or $205
over the year, take out a subscription, which will cost $148 for
- A gym membership can cost $60 a month, or $720 a year, but
going for a walk or a run is free
- Going to the movies once a week costs $20, or about $1000 a
year, but hiring a DVD instead can more than halve this cost
Use our TrackMySpend app to check for your spending leaks.
Like to know if you are spending more or less than
Our spending infographic shows
you how much the average Australian household spends on different
items, broken down by state and life stage.
Knowing where your money is going helps
you control your spending and live within your means. For more
money tips, see simple ways to
Last updated: 17 Oct 2013