Hello there - It's been a while since I spoke about the SpendLog at length - I’m a huge fan of it and a lot of people instigate their own SpendLogging - so read on for more juicy details on how to make the SpendLog work for you.
The SpendLog was developed as a tool to assist you in tracking your daily spend. Have you done it? Did you only manage to capture half-a-week? Maybe you had intentions of starting it but never got around to it? Or you've been disciplined & have completed a few weeks of the Spend Log? Regardless of where you're at, it's alright and don't stress too much about how much you've done.
Below I've outlined what I do, and the process I go through to decipher my own Spend Log. (If you'd like another copy download it from my website www.budgeting123.com)
You've tracked your Spending across a week or a few weeks, now what do you do with the information? This is a guide as to how I look at my own Spend Log -
- 1) Grand Total - Sum up each week. This just gives an overall figure as to how much money passed your hands this week.
- 2) Break it down into Categories (depending on what you've noted down on your Spend Log) a. Normal/ Everyday expenses – ie groceries, coffees, eating out. b. Periodic/Regular – ie rates payment, a chiropractor appointment, phone bill. c. Outliers/Occasional/Unplanned - ie a charity donation, medicine, Halloween costume for your kids, entertainment.
- 3) Looking at your Normal/Everyday Expense: Is your food budget (groceries & eating out/coffees) in the ball park of your budgeted planned spending? Some weeks it's more, some weeks it's less. But overall I'd work out the average and see whether this is a reasonable number for you & your family. Usually this figure will come as a surprise for a lot of people.
- 4) Look at your Periodic/Regular categories: For things like appointment payments, it eventually adds up across the year - so see whether it'd be better for the pocket to stretch it out over a longer period of time. Or whether you can save on your phone bill, find a better option. Remember these are regular and consistent bill payments, you can also assess its necessity according to your needs and lifestyle choices.
- 5) The Outliers/Occasional/Unplanned category is something that you should average out, and even track it across the year. These occasions, when added up, can be costly across the year. It's best to create a plan to put aside money for these seasonal & some unplanned events.
I repeat the Spend Log exercise Quarterly (for 3-4 weeks). I've found that the more I re-visit the exercise, the more I am aware of where my money goes. I hope this is a comprehensive guide for you, and if you need any further assistance please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org