The Ultimate Guide to Spending Journals

by Brittney | Last Updated: October 8, 2020

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If you’re at the beginning of your financial journey and you’d like to get a handle on your finances, having a spending journal (sometimes called a spending log) can really help you see exactly where your money is going and can sometimes help curb spending.

Want to learn more? Keep on reading!

What is a spending journal?

A spending journal is something that you use to track all of your spending over a certain period of time (most people use a monthly spending journal).

Your spending journal can be as in depth or as simple as you like, but most people like to track the actual amount spent, what date the money was spent, and where the money was spent.

Spending journals also have other names like: spending log, expense tracker, and money journal.

Why should you use a spending journal?

I know the idea of keeping a spending journal seems a bit old school, but there’s a lot of benefits to keeping a spending journal, and you should definitely try it at least once!

One of the most important things a spending journal can do for you is to help you identify your spending habits. This means you can see exactly what is spent each month and you can start to identify any bad spending habits or other problem areas.

Keeping a spending journal also helps you be more mindful. If you know that you have to document each purchase, you will start to really ask yourself if you need to make each purchase, this could help you curb your spending!

Another nice benefit of keeping a spending journal is that it helps you with your record-keeping and makes analyzing things a lot easier! See a weird amount charged to your card? You can reference your spending journal and make sure that the amount is actually legitimate!

How do you start a spending journal?

If you’re just getting started with a spending journal, you can keep it simple just by grabbing a small notebook or a piece of paper.

The first thing you need to do is commit. Spending journals only work if you’re committed to writing down each purchase immediately after or a few minutes after they happen.

For each purchase, use one or two lines to record the following information:

Remember you can always add more info to each entry later on, but it’s important to record those three things ASAP!

Review Your Spending Journal

As you begin using your spending journal it’s important to review it every so often.

When you’re just starting out, you should review your spending journal at least weekly!

When you review your journal, make sure the expenses you tracked actually match up with the charges on your card (if you use a card), also look for any patterns or things you want to change for next week.

Where to Keep Spending Journals

If you ever want to upgrade to something else or get tired of just using a boring piece of paper, you should look into these options:


Using a spending journal can be a great way to start getting your finances under control! They’re a tool that can be incredibly flexible and should be a part of your budgeting routine.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spending Journals

What is a money journal?

A money journal is something that you use to track all of your spending over a certain period of time (most people use a monthly one).

What is the purpose of keeping a spending diary?

The purpose of using a spending diary is to keep track of your expenses so they can be reviewed later. Some people also use a spending diary to be more mindful of their spending.

What is a spending tracker?

A spending tracker is something that you use to track all of your spending over a certain period of time (most people use a monthly one).

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