Being Spending Savvy

Earlier this year I put myself on a spending ban. It's not that I'm dangerous with my money; I live within my means, I've no debt and I have savings but I was getting to the point where I was all HAVE MONEY, WILL SPEND. 

It's not dangerous but it can be unnecessary. My spending ethic is as follows: I've earned it and when I've done all my sensible things with it (like pay bills and put some away to save) then what's left is fair game. I can't take it with me and I can always earn more, therefore I'm going to enjoy what I've got. 

But even I have to have some limits. 

This ban was triggered by a couple of things. One was doing a food bank shop with my office colleagues for a local homeless shelter. The amount of food you can buy with £60 when you're going for simple survival is ridiculous. It was abundant. That made me have a very hard look at my shopping habits and think about the things I buy. The second trigger was my clothing clear out at the start of this year. I love shopping, but I don't need the volume of things I have, and nothing alerts you to that quite like a declutter and desire to go minimal (more on that in another post). After that clear out I decided the only way to stop myself filling my space up again with stuff was to go on a clothes shopping ban, which I enforced for 6 months and stuck to. I was quite surprised how easy it was once I'd got out of the 'what the hell, I can afford it, I'm having it!' mindset. 

Once you have the desire to change in place (and a bit of success under your belt) you can start putting plans into action. I decided to watch my spending for a few months and see where my money goes. As I said, my money gets split three ways - bills, saving and spending - but I still was interested to see where my pennies go after that.

Enter Money Dashboard 

This is a website that my finance manager at work told me to start using years ago when it first surfaced and I kept saying 'I have spreadsheets and separate accounts, I'm okay, I don't need it' and I don't for budgeting, but what this website is great for is watching your spending habits as you have to account for every transaction that you do. That's what made me start using it. 

So, for example in July and August this year my grocery bills halved - but that was because I was never at home - so my dining and drinking totals doubled. This indicates that during the summer months I spend the majority of my cash socialising, which is to be expected and I'm happy with that. Going into autumn I was curious to see how my spending habits changed as I knew I wouldn't be going out as much as I do in the summer. 

It also alerted me to the splurge I had on clothes as soon as my shopping ban got lifted (and quickly got reinstated) and how terrible I am since contactless technology appeared. My gosh, that thing is lethal! The limit for contactless is now £30. That easily covers a lunch and drinks. ARGH. Inability to type PINs make you STOP ordering more prosecco, contactless does NOT. As much as I appreciate the technological advancements, there's some 'life hacks' that I could live without (why are we hacking life anyway? Let's stop rushing about and enjoy things a bit more!). 

I've found it's not enough to funnel your money into separate accounts to stay on top of your spending, you sometimes need to dig a little deeper if you want to make significant changes. This can be anything from wanting to spend less on clothes, saving a little more for a top dollar indulgence or just preparing in advance for an event coming up (Christmas, I am looking at you!) This is my Christmas spending tip; put a bit of spending cash away in October to add to your November Christmas gift spending budget. That way November doesn't take such a hard hit and you can conserve all your December spending for festivities and the sales*. Then you won't hit January totally skint. You're welcome!

Hopefully spending a good six months tagging all my transactions, being shamed by bar graphs and pie charts will prove helpful for my 2016 financial health. There is always hope! 

*Unless you're one of those lunatics that starts Christmas shopping in August, you freaking weirdo. 

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  1. hahaha, already got one christmas present for a friend down! I really need to budget more and contactless is so dangerous, I don't count it as real money until I see my bank balance dropping and realise that lattes do add up! The food bank donation sounds like a great idea, were there limits, ie did it have to be non perishable food or did you get a variety of items?

    1. If you contact your local food bank they will tell you what items they need most right now, then you can just shop from the list, or most let you make a financial donation online too. You can find a local one here: