What Did I Buy Today? The Spending Journal Giveaway


Back in the summer, I came across this journal that I immediately knew I had to get into the hands of my readers. I talk a lot about how tracking my spending is what helped me eventually write my first budget and really take control of my finances, but I know the idea of writing down what you spend your money on each day sounds boring to some people. If it sounds boring to you, maybe this journal will make it more fun!

It’s called What Did I Buy Today? and the idea is fairly simple: it’s a spending journal with extra pages that help you come up with new financial goals and also track your savings. Why I’m so obsessed with this journal is that the idea for it came from an illustrator, Kate Bingaman-Burt, whose first journal (Obsessive Consumption) was nothing more than drawings and typography that expressed how she felt about her debt. After sending that to print, she decided to create an actual spending journal that could be used by others. Here are a few images of what’s inside:

So, here’s the deal: I grabbed 3 copies of this journal, with the plan to mail them out before Christmas. Why? Because getting serious about money – whether that means paying down debt, saving more or whatever – is the 2nd most popular New Year’s Resolution, next to losing weight. If I can get this into 3 people’s hands before January 1st, maybe they’ll feel more ready to tackle that goal.

To enter this giveaway, you can tweet about it (1 entry), follow me on Twitter (2 entries), like my Facebook page (2 entries) or write a comment on this post that answers the question below (2 entries). You can also do all of these things for a total of 7 entries, or tweet about it daily to squeeze in a few more. (Remember to use Rafflecopter to make your entries count!)

Here’s the best part: The Spending Journal Giveaway is open to readers worldwide! The giveaway starts on Wednesday, December 11th at 12:00am PST and ends on Thursday, December 19th at 12:00am PST. Three winners will be announced in a blog post on Friday, December 20th at 4:00am PST.

Now, tell me: How do you currently track your spending?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • I don’t currently track my spending! And it’s a problem. I have a loose budget, and I allot myself a certain amount of money each week for groceries, entertainment, personal care, transportation, etc., but I don’t track to make sure I’m staying within my limits and often I run out. Having a tracking journal would be a great – and fun – way to get started. Especially since I have a chunk of debt to pay off.

  • I have an excel spreadsheet on my computer, which is better than nothing – but I don’t think it’s as helpful as carrying a journal like this with me. It would keep me much more accountable when an impulse arises.

  • I would love to keep a budget…I desperately need one. I love reading your posts…they inspire me to want to try and save. I think 2014 will be a big change for me.

  • I currently use a spreadsheet that I created (very basic) and I balance it every day so if I stopped for a diet coke this morning on the way to work then I’ll deduct that $1.06 off of my restaurant spending for the month so I always have a running total of where I am. Sounds very boring and restrictive but getting myself in better financial shape is a priority and this really helps me in doing that.

  • I am using a lined notebook and plain white envelopes. The notebook holds my monthly budgets that I print out from excel, while the envelopes are used to track my weekly spending, fitting receipts in the envelopes.

    Everything is held together by an elastic and kept in my purse. It’s not pretty but it does the trick. I prefer the pen and paper method for daily tracking.

  • I love this idea! I currently use a google doc as a way to keep track of “funds” but having a journal to really get into it would help a lot! A lot of my purchases are emotionally based and a journal would help reduce that. Great giveaway!

  • Great giveaway – hope I win one of these! Getting married in 2014 in Vancouver and really need to keep track of my expenses and keep my spending down!

  • I go through phases where I track my spending very closely (usually on scrap paper) and then I go for months not even looking. I’m not consistent at all. It shows around this time of year of when I start to panick about how little movement I’ve made on my debt.

  • Ohh love this giveaway! I currently use an Excel spreadsheet I made, but I like the idea of having it on paper in a book way better! And it seems more organized to me, with the option of adding in some more detail than my spreadsheet allows.

  • I currently use an app on my phone, but I suspect that with the upcoming changes in my life that won’t be sufficient. This book might be the answer I need! Thanks!!

  • I’d be so thrilled to win this! I am currently just keeping track in my day timer, but this would be so much better!

    Fingers crossed!!

  • I’m currently tracking my spending using an app on my phone, and then I transfer it all into a little notebook which I carry with me. I usually do this while procrastinating at work… Before I got a notebook, I just used the app on my phone, but I found I didn’t actually review my spending afterwards (which kind of defeats the purpose!)

  • I track my spending my staying up-to-date with my bank account- checking it almost daily, and I also use Mint.com to follow the trends/budgets I set!

  • I have my accounts linked to Mint to keep track. And I keep a once weekly journal to actually go through it all and actually SEE the trends as they happen, and make weekly goals to reflect what I notice.

  • How do I track my current spending? Does “poorly” count as an answer? :) Hubby and I are working really hard right now to curb extraneous spending and get a few debts knocked out. It’s really nice to work as a team on those kind of goals!

  • I track my spending in a Google Drive spreadsheet. I am sure there are WAY more better/efficient ways of doing so, though (this journal being one of them :P)

  • I am currently just starting to track my variable spending

    With my monthly budget I give myself a $700 stipend for all my variables. (Spouse gets his $700 as well.)

    I am currently just tracking it on paper. I check my credit card account every few days and subtract from my 700. I keep my stipend money in a separate account so hopefully it can build up.

  • Ok but actually that spending journal looks hilarious. I need this. I currently track all my spending on my computer (in Money 4 by Jumsoft) but it’s not nearly as artistic as this.

  • No matter how many apps or virtual trackers I try (for money, food, whatever,) I always end up more successful when I use a hard version – pen to paper. This book would be perfect!

  • I’ve had my eye on this book for a while! Even if I don’t win, I think this is a sign for me to finally purchase it!

  • Love this giveaway! I currently track my spending by hanging on to all receipts (or making a quick note in my phone if I don’t get a receipt) and then plugging everything in to a budget spreadsheet at the end of the day, or every two days. It would be cool to try a new method, though – so I am definitely entering this giveaway :)

  • Great contest, @blondeonabudget ! I track my spending using debit card statements and cash receipts (and credit card statements, when I go to the dark side). This journal, however, looks like a way more fun way to do it. Also, it looks like a great learning tool for my 16-yr-old daughter, who is very interested in managing her allowance money and savings account. Yes!

  • I don’t currently track my spending…oops!

    I leave a certain amount of money in my checking for variable expenses like food, gas, entertainment, etc. and move the rest into either my bills account or savings account. But the money seems to disappear rather quickly…

  • I am trying very hard to stay on a strict budget by living strictly by cash. I would love to win one of these! So helpful.

  • I have an Excel spreadsheet that shows my spending parameters, but then I track daily in my desk calendar. I’ve been slacking this pay-period, so this post is definitely an encouraging reminder to get back on track, watch my spending, save some $$ and get rid of that debt!!

  • Hey Cait!

    Great giveaway….that journal looks like so much fun!

    Myself I have a hard cover ruled notebook, on the right hand side I have my 2-week budget, and on the left page facing it I write my spending inside of those two weeks and note which category each falls into. I enter each puchase into my “variable expenses” spreadsheet which has some simple formulas to keep track of what’s left. At the end of the two weeks I print the spreadsheet and tape into into the book then start the next two week period with two fresh pages. Sounds a little complicated, but it works for me!

    Happy Holidays :)

  • Well Cait, I’ve been following this manual tracking of “spending vs budget” procedure of mine for (I kid you not) 4 decades now.

    In a 3-ring binder I keep 12 monthly page copies of a template form. Each copy divided into income sources vs spending outlays. Each is then further divided into budgeted vs spending totals to-date.

    As I spend during the month I continuously update my monthly totals to-date, spread across 25 different detailed spending categories.

    At month end I then enter the monthly totals (incomes, spending) into an yearly excel spreadsheet which contains 12 monthly sets of columns of budgets / actuals spent / budget-vs-actual variances .

    At year end I backup the excel file, monitor money flow trends from year to year and then begin a new yearly spreadsheet, adjusting my budgeting as conditions warrant.

    Not too difficult just so long as you are disciplined enough to spend a few minutes to daily track actuals. Using this approach I find that budgeting tends to get easier and more precise over time, thereby helping the savings effort.

  • Hi Cait!

    I track my expenses most of my time in my phone, but I like the idea of having a book, where I can see all my spending on a weekly basis – and track other things as well!

  • Oh dear – at the moment I’m a bit sporadic… I try to plan what I’m going to spend in a day before I leave the house & make a note in my phone but inevitably I forget to update with actual prices and if I’ve bought something else… I should probably make this my New Year’s resolution if my goal to buy a house in 2014 is ever to be accomplished! x

  • I… don’t usually track my expenses! It makes the whole “broke college student” thing that much more obvious… I’ve wanted this journal for a while, though.

  • I JUST started trying to track my spending via Excel – I was using Mint before (since it hooked to my phone), but fell off the wagon and was having trouble getting back into it so I thought I’d try a spreadsheet/budget. And, well… it’s not going so well, haha.

    I think a book like this might be what I need – I’m a sucker for writing things down, and have a “finance” notebook I write notes about my debt, payments, etc in so I feel like this book could be my answer to forgetting to track digitally! Plus, as much as I would LOVE an iPhone spending tracker/budget, I can’t find a good app out there (hint hint to any developers reading)

    …if I’m not the winner of this book, when can I find one??? ;)

  • I keep a handwritten notebook and an excel spreadsheet. The notebook’s falling apart though, mostly due to a 2 year old who thinks all lined notebooks are her.

  • I do track my budget…but in more of a ‘this is how much I’m supposed to spend’ kind of way. Better than a lot of people but it could be better. One of my resolutions this year is to be better at saving. I spent my savings cushion renovating my kitchen this Summer and have yet to get anything back into that account. This journal is right up my alley!

  • I currently track my spending my writing everything (well most things as I know there are things that get missed) in a basic notebook. At the end of the month I transfer the totals of the categories I use to a spreadsheet.

    This spending journal looks much nicer than my plain notebook! :)

  • When I first started getting serious about paying off my debt, I used this free spending app called iSpend for a few months which was super helpful. Now I just buy everything on Visa, keep the receipts, and check my online account to make sure it’s all accurate. I also take out some cash a week for “fun” money. I sure would love a cute spending journal though! :)

  • I’m currently only tracking my spending through my debit transactions online! Something like this journal would be so helpful to know where everything has been spent!

  • I use my blog! I make most of my purchases using debit or credit so its all there when I log online. I keep a log on my phone of cash purchases otherwise I’d never remember those.

    I then update everything on the blog and plug numbers on my Excel budget spreadsheet.

    I like that journal because its not just a spending journal, its got goals and setting expectations, and its pretty :)

  • I currently use an app on my phone, HomeBudget, but it doesn’t have everything I need to track properly, and I need serious help in the goal setting department! Thanks for this great contest :)

  • I use a 8×11 sheet of paper folded 4 times to create a small booklet. Each side is a day. It’s helpful but keeping track of spending is hard.

  • HI! i would love to win this journal…I currently use your budget templates every month…I faithfully read your blogs for extra tips and things NOT to do..thanks for getting into debt and then having the ability to pick yourself back up and make a change…You are an inspiration…just thought you should know that.

  • I have a couple budget sheets I use in excel for longer term planning. They are more of an outline of the coming months.

    I do a working copy of my biweekly budget and my spending journal in a lined notebook. I like doing it with pen and paper. I’m not sure why.

  • I’ve heard food journals really work for people on diets, so I can imagine spending journals would work if you were trying to watch where your money was going! We use a simple budget, track receipts, the usual – but this seems like a really fun way to track spending.

  • I have been using Excel, Google Docs (which is basically the same thing), Mint and HelloWallet. Haven’t found anything that I really love :/

  • Saving doesn’t always have to be a drag! It’s a good thing and so is this journal. Right now I I just use a spreadsheet but I am going to ramp up things in 2014. I want to kick it in overdrive!

  • I currently track my spending on a monthly, rather than daily, basis. Once a month, when the time comes to pay the bills, my boyfriend and I calculate our total spending on rent, electricity, cable & groceries. I would love to use the Spending Journal to track my spending daily!

  • I track my spending on an excel spreadsheet every day! It tracks not only my daily spending, but my monthly total and my annual spending total. I also mark my no spend days in green so it’s easy to see how many no spend days I have a month!

  • Hey Cait, I balance my spending using 2 methods. First off, like most of us PF bloggers, I’m an avid user of Mint. However, because they have some problems categorizing things here and there, I also use a spreadhseet. I hope the giveaway works well for you!

  • I have a small notebook—i encode all my days expenses every night with the date and exact amount then put the receipt in a small envelope i attached to the notebook.

  • How I currently track my spending: poorly.

    Hey, I had to be honest!

    I haven’t figured out a good way to track my day to day spending yet. It’s something I’ll be working on in the new year!

  • I mostly track my spending using an Excel spreadsheet or by leaving my debit card at home when I go to work. You don’t have to track what you don’t spend LOL. This book would be great though for goal setting – thanks for the chance to win and a great blog. It’s been a big help keeping me on track.

  • I use a google docs for my budget, I have separate pages for my spending, saving etc. This system seems to work well for me :)

  • Ugh, I could SO benefit from one of these! I have a basic budget but I’m not currently tracking the cash I spend outside of my regular bills and savings (TERRIBLE, I know!)

    I’ve always heard that tracking is the best way to get a handle on how you spend your money. This would be a great way to start my New Years financial goals!

  • I currently use an Excel sheet. This would definitely make my tracking more enjoyable (read deliciously colorful :-))

  • We normally track the paying of our monthly bills in a word processor doc or spreadsheet. We typically don’t track what we spend our discretionary funds on. Although I once did an experiment where we took a picture of everything we spent over the weekend and reviewed it on Sunday night. Quite an eye opener when you see it all together. :)

  • Primarily, I’ve tracked my spending on mint and its worked well. I also have a budget breakdown on my credit card statement and when I see I’m spending a large amount in a certain category, I try to spend less in that category the next month. Works so far!

  • I try to track by using a kind of program provided by my bank (in the online banking), but it is not completely optimal for me as I don’t have a smart phone and can only see and use it when on a pc so I can’t really continuously track and often my purchases get put in the wrong category by the program, so I have to constantly change them. So it’s a bit bothersome and I am not as good at tracking as I should be, so this spending journal would be perfect for me :)
    Sorry for not commenting earlier, I have made a resolution this week of getting better at commenting on blogs I like, to give something positive back to the bloggers who provide me with enjoyable reading and nice breaks. So yes, thanks for writing this great blog, very isnpiring to read about your sobrerity and budgeting and personal finance posts are really interesting to me as a student trying to save where possible but also enjoy life.

  • Sadly, I don’t track my spending. My husband and I are starting to try and figure out our finances instead of living check to check with no real goals.

  • I’ll admit it-I’ve been kinda a slacker with tracking these days. I have returned to almost exclusive debit card use, so I check my online banking periodically. I would like to return to a cash system while I’m on mat leave to keep a better handle on things, so this journal would be a great tool! Thanks for the fun giveaway :)

  • I track my spending, but not actually on paper. Everything I spend goes on either one of my credit cards (which I pay off every month) or through my ING Thrive account. Cash is for coffee and little things. So I have a list of everything I’ve spent, just not all in one place. I would love this book though!

  • I used a spreadsheet to track my spending and I’m pretty obsessive about it, not that it has really HELPED me in my finances because I go through valleys with my obsession. Especially when my finances aren’t where I want them to be and I’m too scared to track. Ha! This journal would be amazing!

  • I use a little notebook that I keep with the things I need right before bed. So one of the last things I do is to jot down what I spent that day.

  • Oh I definitely need this spending journal in my life! I am in the second month of budgeting and tracking my spending the best I can.

    I have downloaded your Budget template and then I update it weekly to see how much we are spending per week. I grossly underestimated some areas and over on some. I am working really hard on getting things organized so we can start eliminating debt.

    If I don’t win, I may have to get it for myself anyway!

  • I have a Word document that I use. It has a table for each month, with the opening balance for the month at the top, and I enter in each and every transaction I make. I also have tables to track my credit card usage and my budget for the month. I like having all of the information available right away on my laptop. Every time I spend a dime, it gets entered into the relevant table, so I always know my chequing account balance, my credit card balance (so I can pay it off right away!!), and how I’m doing on my budget for the month.

    I really like that journal, though. Very cute! I may have to pick one of those up.

  • I need this in my life! I am currently using my credit card for all my purchases, with the intent of earning cashback, but m losing track of my spending and am scared of the totals when the bill comes in. I need a new method, and a spending journal would help!

  • I use my IPod when I’m out & an excel spreadsheet at home — this looks like more fun! Make me a winner ! :)

  • I have been reading your blog posts for the last few months but it’s my first time commenting. I am so glad I found your blog. I’m a single income working mom trying to support my husband and 2 year old son while paying off $20,000 in debt. I just paid off my first credit card this year. I track my spending in an excel document. I’m feeling overwhelmed by debt and wonder if the finish line will be close. I’m hoping to have financial freedom by 2015. Thanks for your blog!

  • Have an excel sheet that enter when I’m keeping track but I’m a finance binger since I’ll lose track of my expenses for 3 months and then be really strict for another couple and lose track again, over and over the cycle goes.

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