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    I decided for the month of February to track all my spending on a spreadsheet. I noted the date I spent money, where I spent it, what I spent it on and how much I spent. I then highlighted it in green if it was a necessary spend (food, laundry etc), orange if it was kind of necessary but could have been avoided (food shop but adding cost by buying unnecessary foods) or red if it was totally unnecessary and a waste of money (clothes etc).

    I've just totaled up my red column and I am honestly SHOCKED I spent so much on random crap. I'm so glad I've done this chart because now I know I seriously need to change because money doesn't last forever. I actually feel ashamed of myself for not being as good with money as I first thought. I think my excuse to myself is "I handed in an assignment today so I deserve to treat myself" even though I may have treated myself just days before for doing the late shift at work.

    I also fall into the trap of wanting to buy gifts for people. Sending stuff to my boyfriend for Valentines, or to my mum for Mother's day is just unnecessary spending. Sure, send a card but sending parcels is more expensive than I thought. Jeez.

    I'm always scared of leaving my card at home in case I am ever in an emergency and I need money to help me out, like if the bus doesn't turn up when I finish work at 8:30pm and need to take a taxi, then you need money. I think it's an irrational fear though, because I've never been in that situation ever in my entire life where I suddenly need money.

    I've also spent more than I thought I did on food. I cook a lot, yet now I'm realising making meals from scratch 5 times a week isn't as cheap as I thought. I need to cook less and start doing more with cheaper foods, making them last longer to save money.

    I can also do laundry less. I got into the habit of washing my bedclothes once a week, even if they didn't feel dirty. This costs me £4.50 to wash and dry - I have no choice but to dry because I don't have enough space to air them all. So if I reduce it to perhaps once every 2 weeks then that'll half that cost. I also do my clothes washing once a week costing £3.00 because I let them air dry. If I only do this once every 2 weeks as well and don't put clothes in the wash unless they need it (like if they smell fine and aren't dirty) then that'll save costs.

    So, overall, my goals for March are this:

    - Spend no more than £20 on unnecessary junk (which is a massive huge reduction from what I spent last month)
    - Re-evaluate my meal planning to reduce food costs, stuff like eating less meat because it is cheaper
    - Eat less food in general
    - Sell some of the clothes I have to bump up my bank account (I've already sold shoes which have helped a lot)
    - Do laundry less often and only when needs doing to save costs
    - Start leaving my purse / cards at home when going out to avoid spending unnecessarily

    Let's hope I can stick to it. I need to book flights to visit my boyfriend this month and after calculating all this I really need to keep my spending in check or I will find myself struggling! I'm glad I realised this before it got too late.

    The reason I'm making a post about this is for some motivation. If I tell people these are my plans, I have a reason to live up to it and actually do it. I don't want to get to the end of March and have not changed anything. I need to change before it gets worse.
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    i'd be careful when it comes to cutting back on life necessities. Don't eat less or do laundry less for the sake of it. Always maintain a healthy diet and good personal hygiene and try to eat good food. Also be careful with cheap food, there's probably a reason why it's cheap - it could be full of crap to compensate for lack of actual quality.
    Money is nothing without health.

    Budgeting is a good practice and all but personally I don't cut back on necessities. Cooking everyday may seem easy for now but you'll only get busier in life, so do try to be realistic about managing your own expectations because budgeting is more effective when done over a long term.

    About things like treats/gifts to yourself/others, try to budget for them after personal savings. Set aside a bit of money each month towards savings in a stocks and shares ISA (consider a low risk portfolio in nutmeg or something), it doesn't have to be a lot but consistency is key. Money left over can be added towards a small fund you manage to go towards larger spending such as gifts, technology, car, clothes etc. That way you maintain a good quality of life, have savings and only buy what you can afford.
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    Good luck! I went through a similar "audit" last year and it helped soo much, though I had to work to find the right balance between spending sensibly and putting myself through unecessary austerity :lol:
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    (Original post by DrawTheLine)
    - Start leaving my purse / cards at home when going out to avoid spending unnecessarily
    I've debated this. But, as you mentioned, you may have the issue of the bus not turning up and then needing a taxi home.
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    (Original post by Tiger Rag)
    I've debated this. But, as you mentioned, you may have the issue of the bus not turning up and then needing a taxi home.
    Exactly. Although I have the Uber app which is already synced to my card so I could use that if really needed. But I don't know how I feel about getting one when it's dark and cold and late.
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    I'm in the same situation in that my bills, direct debits and needs only add to about £470 and even allowing a generous amount of spending money (say £130 for a round number) i can do as i wish above £600 and all too often its wasted rather than saved/invested.
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    I'm so proud of myself! For the month of March I spent so much less on unnecessary stuff! Over half the amount less money spent on random crap. I also spent a whole lot less on food too. I still bought some stuff I didn't need to but I'm so happy with what I've achieved. I'm carrying on the spreadsheet for April and hope to continue making myself proud.
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