How I cut my spending 38% by simply by writing it down.

You may have heard me gushing on my blog/twitter about this FREE debt worksheet I’ve been working off starting last month. A fellow pf blogger, John at Married with Debt is kind enough to send over the excel spreadsheet he and his wife use to track their finances FOR FREE to anyone who wants it. I’m pretty good with Excel after my years of being an Admin, but this worksheet is on a whole ‘nother level. I am always eager to try out tools that work for others, and I must say this spreadsheet really is helping me stay on top of things.

The numbers in this sheet are completely arbitrary but I love the “list” feature. I also like how all the credit card info is in one place-particularly the credit cards listed from highest to lowest interest rate. Say you have one month where you were unable to pay off your complete balance- you can just check this sheet instead of logging into each online portal for the credit cards and see which one has the highest interest rate. This way I know which one I should contribute the most money to in order to get the most “bang for my buck” so-to-speak. I also enjoy the handy year-to-date total at the end of the sheet. I like being able to see exactly where all the money is going.

The REALLY helpful tool is on the second sheet of the workbook, where you write down every.single.transaction. John recommends saving receipts, if I lose one or forget I often cross reference between my debit card and my Learnvest: My Money Center portal just in case I used a credit card for a stray purchase here or there. The Learnvest Tool is great for helping me place things into my budget, but the added step of having to type it out keeps me aware of how much I am spending. And I don’t write down just “Chic-Fil-A”, I write out “Dinner with XYZ” so I know that I was spending on something fun.

John is a smart cookie, and he makes it so the sheet totals out your ENTIRE spending for the month on this page. Keep in mind that your “fixed” expenses are on the front sheet so this second page is for discretionary spending only (at least that is how I use it). Having to type out keeps me uber conscious of spending and because of this I have managed to cut my expenses an average of 38% between last month and this month (not including my trip to Vegas!).

1.) On Beauty Services/Supplies: I went from 96 dollars per month to 65 dollars per month, an 32% drop.

2.) On Entertainment (which I put any time I go out for drinks in this category instead of in my “Eating Out” budget): I went from 196 dollars per month to 102, a 47% drop.

3.) On Groceries: From 293 dollars per month to 230, a 22% drop.

4.) And the biggest decrease was in my “Eating Out Budget”. I spent an average of 505 dollars per month, got it down to 233.97 last month (and I even went out more back home than in NYC because I was seeing old friends, etc. etc.), for a savings of 54%.

All for an average of 38% savings.

How much do you think you could save if you wrote down every single transaction you made?

P.S. Thank you John. You’ve helped more than you know!

Carnival’s and Mentions

T’s Weekend Ramblings at Young and Thrifty
Fin. Carn. for Young Adults at 20’s Finances
Carnival of Fin. Camaraderie at The University of Money
Carnival of Retirement at <a href=”My Personal Finance Journey
Canadian PF Happy Hour at Canadian Personal Finance
Wealth Artisan’s FinCarn at Wealth Artisan
Yakezie Carnival at The Ultimate Juggle


22 thoughts on “How I cut my spending 38% by simply by writing it down.

  1. Lauren, it’s so great to see the chart in action. Knowing that something I’ve been honing for a few years is helping others makes all the hours I’ve put in worth it. It’s like watching your child win the spelling bee!

    Keep working at it and keep us updated here. You have a great talent for writing and communicating.

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  3. Mrs.CBB and I designed our Canadian Budget BInder Spreadsheet last year and have been improving it ever since. It’s amazing what you can save when you see it on paper or in a spreadsheet. The important thing and I’m sure John will agree is that people need to start somewhere and make small changes to reach their goals. A budget can be overwhelming for some people so keep it simple and stick to it and you will see how well you adjust your habits to stick to that budget. Good for you! Mr.CBB

  4. For our budget, we just give ourselves a set amount of spending money and spend it however we wish. I’ve never been able to keep track of everything I buy – drove me crazy! 🙂

    • It is slowly but surely driving me to the nut house, but as I’m currently unemployed I’m trying to learn to live on less. Thats the hardest part-separating wants and “needs” no matter how necessary they seem.

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