Spending

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 statement

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 spending.

If you haven't done a budget yet, use our budget planner to plan where you want your money to go.

Budget planner

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.

TrackMySpend app

  • 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 spending.

Case study: Donna's discovery

""Donna 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 smarter:

  • Instead of spending $3.95 on a magazine every week, or $205 over the year, take out a subscription, which will cost $148 for the year
  • 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.

TrackMySpend app

Australian spending habits

Australian-spendingLike to know if you are spending more or less than other Australians?

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 save money.


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Last updated: 17 Oct 2013

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