Would Your Habits Change If You Had To Publish Your Spending?

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Adam over at ManVsDebt has taken the extreme measure of publicly sharing all of his and his partner’s finances on his blog (with the help of Pocketsmith, a web-based calendar for keeping an eye on your cashflow), including all of his spending, in an attempt to help him stick to a budget. His idea is that by publishing all this data, it will be more difficult not to stick to their budget, with all of his readers looking on helping them keep on the “straight and narrow”.

As I say, this is a particularly extreme way of helping them to achieve their financial goals, but it did get me wondering about how much we’d all alter our spending if we had to publicly display it every month, in the same ways that MPs have to declare their expenses?

If you had to publish a monthly list of everything you spent money on, would it change your spending habits?

If you’re fond of a beer or two, or enjoy a bottle of wine each night, would it shame you in to cutting down? If you’re a 20-a-day smoker, or a fan of even harder drugs, would it make you quit, or at least cut back?

Perhaps you spend a fortune on clothes or love running up massive mobile phone bills, can you justify these?

I know this is largely hypothetical, but it could be a useful exercise to help you identify ways of cutting down unnecessary spending – you may be able to justify it to yourself, but if you couldn’t justify it to your peers, or even your partner, why not cut it out?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: tompagenet

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9 thoughts on “Would Your Habits Change If You Had To Publish Your Spending?

  1. I like the idea – perhaps for most people a smaller version would work better. Not posting to the internet, but having a weekly/monthly session with friends where you all go through your spending for the period together.

  2. It is a little extreme! For those who need to budget, one technique I have read about before is to have a separate envelope for all expenses – when you get paid withdraw the money and place it in the envelope – when the money is gone from each envelope you will spend now more in that category for that month.

  3. Actually I publish my spending and all income except for my salary on a weekly basis. It has changed the way I spend because I have had readers call me out for going over budget!!! I know that I could hide it from them but it makes me feel better to be honest….and when I get a comment or an email saying hey why are you spending so much on Domino’s pizza instead of cooking it gets me back on track.

  4. I’ve been considering doing this for the last few weeks. I already post my net worth calculations, so it’s no bigger deal.

    If anything I suspect people would be surprised how little I spend on just about everything. Roll on debt freedom.

  5. Absolutely! Every since I declared September to be “Samurai September” no spend month, I haven’t bought a single thing in 45 days!

    It’s great to have accountability.

    Hope to see more folks from the UK over at FS!

  6. It is definitely psychological – none of us wish to be judged by our peers and therefore posting expenditure on a website would be like having to account for food eaten when attending a slimming class.

    It takes 6 weeks to develop/break a habit – maybe posting the expenditure to the web is one way of keeping the momentum going for that 6 week period.

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