Do you know how much you spend regularly each month?
No? Well then it is time to make a full list of your spends!
I am talking about all of your regular fixed outgoings, including mortgage or rent, council tax, water rates, TV licence, gas, electric, TV costs, phone charges (home and mobile), insurances (home, buildings, car and personal), school lunch money, swimming lessons, fuel and any subscriptions you may have.
If you do your banking online, then you can print off a list of standing orders and direct debits, otherwise pop into your bank and ask them to do it for you the next time you are passing.
Next you need to look at all your variable (changeable) expenses each month, so you need to keep your receipts for one month’s shopping in one place, you can come up with a complete list of expenditure. Don’t forget those lattes on the way to work or those children’s magazines we all buy when we give in to pester power (or is that just me?). So make sure you get receipts for everything including fuel.
Then make a list at the end of a month breaking it all down in to categories, including food, fuel, fun, and well, frivolous.
It is really easy to use a speadsheet to do this for you and add it all up, but to be honest a pen, paper and calculator will do as good a job.
Daddacool explains a great way of keeping track of your disposable income using a cashbook system (yes you can tell he is a mild mannered accountant in real life) which will help you ascertain if you spend more some weeks than others over the month too.
Once you know how much you spend each month you can start to look at ways to make savings, which I will discuss in forth coming posts!