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Understanding your spending habits

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Budgeting isn’t so tricky if you have a good understanding of your spending habits. We all see and use money in different ways and as a result, everyone’s spending habits are a bit different. By understanding your own you will see where you can cut out unnecessary spending and plan for the future.

It’s time to take a look at your spending habits!


  1. Get your bank statements for the last three months

  2. Look at your total spending for each month

  3. Split your spending into different categories. Here are some examples:

  4. Housing

  5. Transportation

  6. Food

  7. Utilities

  8. Savings, investing

  9. Debt payoff

  10. Entertainment

  11. Other

  12. Calculate your monthly spending for each category

  13. See if you have any trends. Is the amount that you spend on transport each month roughly the same? Is the amount you spend on food each month roughly the same?

Do you typically spend more or less than is coming in?

If you spend less…

You can use a budget to work out how much you can save each payday and flow this towards what you want. We call this ‘paying ourselves first’.

If you spend more…

You can use a budget to see where that extra money is going, and how much you are spending on your debt. You can also see if there are ways to spend less or earn more.

Getting a handle on how your money comes in and goes out is an important step to sorting your finances and getting ahead. By understanding your spending, you can create a realistic budget that can help you to reach your financial goals!

If you need immediate financial help and you’re in New Zealand, you can call the free financial helpline Moneytalks on 0800 345 123 or text 4029. Moneytalks connects people and whānau with their local foodbanks, helps them find their way through Work and Income processes and entitlements and supports people to manage their money.

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