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First half of 2011 spending breakdown

Posted by on Thursday 30 June 2011 in frugal, low spend 11, personal finance | 6 comments

After the one I made for my June spending at lunchtime, I’m in a graph making mood so I’ve made one to show (myself) where my money has gone in the first half of 2011.

Here’s said graph:

And here’s the details in a table:

Category Spent Percentage
Transport £350.20 24%
Food** £339.14 23%
Household £326.73 21%
Crafts £110.63 7%
Work-related £109.15 7%
Garden £85.73 6%
Entertainment £76.59 5%
Books £60.15 4%
Gifts £25.84 2%
Clothes £15.97 1%

(** Takeout food and restaurant bills; my share of all bills or the total bill if I paid for everyone.)

Inspired by Shoestring Alley, I started tracking my spending at the start of the year and decided to record everything I spent “frivolously” – ie. not core bills or to-be-eaten/prepared-at-home food, but everything else. I wanted to start doing it to make me more conscious of my spending habits – to see where the money goes and to know that if I buy something silly/completely frivolous then I still have to hold myself accountable over it. A tool to help me reduce spending & consumption across the board.

It’s really worked – I’ve spent far less money on random things than I ever have done before. I’m actually really surprised how low “books” is as back when I was working full time, I could easily spend that on books each month and I got my money’s worth out of my book buying even then. (Disclaimer: most of the work-related stuff is books too, but books I wouldn’t ever buy or read if I didn’t need them – I would NOT be reading Shakespeare if I had a choice in it! ;) )

Apparently it takes just over two months to form a new habit and I think in the last six months, I have formed a habit of being conscious of my spending and not giving into temptation/the desire to buy things. Over the last month in particular, I’ve not spent a lot (by my previous standards) of frivolous money but I’ve not in any well felt hard done by, which is good, because that could lead to binge spending. There is still room to easily cut down – on lazy/convenience food, on pretty household stuff (related to us still settling in/decorating our house), and on craft supplies – but aside from food & travel costs, I’m pretty ok with it.

Do you track your spending? Do you find it motivating or restrictive?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Rachel

    My bank has online software that does this for me, which is part of the reason I stick with them. I do like a nice graph!

    • louisa

      Oooh, can I ask what bank that is? The lure of graphs might persuade me to change! :)

      • Rachel

        It’s a mortgage and current account rolled into one – the Virgin One Account. For someone who keeps track of spending as tightly as you do, I can’t recommend it highly enough, if you’re free to move your mortgage. It is the most efficient way of saving. Their customer service is excellent, too.

        • louisa

          Thanks – we’re stuck with our current crappy mortgage (two self-employed people trying to get a mortgage at the height of the credit crunch…) until September (ish*) but after that, we’re going to look at the options – and we’re certainly going to consider that sort of offset mortgage. I’ll make sure I factor in the presence of pretty graphs in the Virgin one when we do.

          (* the lock-in period ends at the start of September but John’s company’s financial year ends at the end of September, so we’ll find it easier to get a new mortgage with the latest full set of accounts, so will wait until after that)

  2. Su

    Yes, I do track my spending. You can very easily fool yourself that very small amounts of money don’t really matter, but it’s amazing how much they add up to. For example, I buy odd bits of costume jewellery, always reduced. It’s only an odd bit here and there and it’s usually so that I can break it up & remake it, but when I added up the other day how much I’d spent this year, it was just over £50! Now that I am aware of this, I can tackle this ‘little problem’ of mine. If I hadn’t been tracking my spending I would have been oblivious.

    • louisa

      I think that’s been my problem in the past too – with books and cheap clothes rather than costume jewellery – definitely feel a lot more on top of things now.

      Hurrah for tracking!

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