5 Things I Learned from Writing down Everything I Spent for a Week

By Parisa Hashempour | Monday 30th July, 2018

Since the age of about twelve, I was desperate to have a job. My parents gave me a weekly amount of pocket money but I have always wanted to have my own stuff and it took me a long time of trying (and failing) to save that pocket money to get enough to buy all the random bits and bobs I desperately felt I wanted and needed.

So I worked throughout my teenage years in a local pub, spare money went on clothes, food and later alcohol. Then I supplemented my lifestyle in university with jobs in hospitality, I’d make money and it would disappear just as fast. Now, I’m a grown up (or at least I’m supposed to be). And so I decided it was time I took accountability for the money I was earning and spending. It. Was. Hard. And I was in for a shock. Over the course of a week, I wrote down everything I spent my hard earned pennies on. And this is what both you and I can learn from my serious reality check.


You Are More of a Plastic Fiend than You Think

Or at least, I am. As a semi-vegetarian and person-who-turns-off-the-tap-when-they-brush, I do like to consider myself as someone that does their bit for saving the environment. But the first thing that slapped me full-pelt across the face when I reviewed my spends for the week was how frequently I’d grab a bottle of water from Tesco, a meal in a plastic box or forget my KeepCup and grab a coconut latte from Pret in its fully packaged glory anyway (yes, I do realise the next-level-pretentiousness of my coffee choice). A week of writing down my spends has not only forced me to review my spending but also the impact of my lifestyle as well.

You Might Not Really Want That

On the first few days of tracking my spending, I spontaneously shopped as though I might spontaneously combust. Did I want this £21 mascara that I have never tried before or read a review on? Yes, please. But towards the end of the week I was starting to feel a little horrified at how easily my money disappeared on bits that I didn’t even realise I wanted. By the end of the week I prided myself on walking away from a convincing shop assistant at Lulu Lemons, to mull over the admittedly beautiful and yet incredibly extortionate pair of silky, soft leggings he was punting. After a few hours, the pull of the pair had waned.

Eating out Sucks Your Bank Account Dry

This is also something that I had convinced myself was less pervasive in my spending habits than was actually true. It’s so easy to get caught out of the house with a raging stomach, screaming at you to fill it up with the nearest food. Not only did this make me realise how fast a £5 Pret breakfast, £3 meal deal, £7 fish supper and some snacks from the shop on the way home add up. But it also made me realise how much processed rubbish I have been eating lately. The lesson? Being organised, shopping for food and packing ahead will make me healthier, and my bank account happier (I just hope I can take my own advice).


Online Shopping Is a Wiley Temptress

Maybe it’s just me? But getting stuck in an eBay bidding war is a sure fire way to whittle away that hard-earned dolla. Throughout this week I had a few near misses. When you can’t see the money or the product, it almost feels like you’re not spending. But you sure are. Eventually, I caved and bought some film for my Fujifilm camera online, but I am going to justify that one.

It’s Easy (Technically) to Change Your Choices

Things are not cheap these days. We’re living in a post-10p-Freddo age. By the end of the week I’d learned that I could (reluctantly) shave money off my spends by opting for the cheaper versions of things that I bought. I’m not suggesting you turn the world on its head and buy a home brand of loo roll if you’re an Andrex guy or gal but instead of buying two organic cherry beers in the bar, I learned that maybe the second drink could be a spirit and mixer at less than half the price.