The Mummypenny Spending Diaries – Dove Cottage Blog

The Spending Diaries begin

Back in January I completed a very interesting project. Both Faith Archer, friend, fellow mum and writer and I, mum, writer kept detailed spending diaries. At the end of the month we compared to each other and wrote a blog post each to see what we could learn from each other and maybe change. I was inspired to shop more yellow sticker goodies at Co-op (I have found the perfect time to go!). On a bigger scale I was inspired to work harder to get rid of my debts, even to think about paying down the mortgage. Faith and her family live a more comfortable life than we do as they have no mortgage, car or credit card debt.

So this gave me the idea, it is REALLY interesting to read other peoples spending diaries, so I asked my Blogging Your Way To Riches community if they wanted to take part in a new series of content and lots of people said yes!

Not only is it interesting for other people to read, it is also something you can learn from. Other people do great things to save money. Or maybe empathise with, emotional spending, mum guilt (talking from experience here). But most of all, keeping a detailed spending diary is a powerful experience, making you mindful about what you spend, when and how. And this can be a tool to help to get spending under control.

Today is the first post and it is from the very lovely and incredible photographer Sam, from Dove Cottage Blog. She kept her spending diary from 22nd July 2019 for a week. Over to Sam. 

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Sam from Dove Cottage Blog Spending Diary

My name is Sam, I live in Kent with my husband, our two-year-old daughter, and dog Betsy. We currently live in our first home, where I have a constant battle with wanting to put my own touches on, but not wanting to invest too much as I know we won’t be here forever. Therefore I try to make or ‘hack’ as many things as I can, in an attempt to create my dream home on a super tight budget. I blog about this at, where I share weekly DIY tutorials and interior advice, as well as over on Instagram: @dove_cottage.


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I am generally good with Spending

Generally I am quite good with spending, and I very rarely make an impulse purchase. If I see something I like I always give it a couple of weeks before buying, as nine times out of ten I’ll have either ‘gone off’ it, or found something I prefer by then!

I am absolutely obsessed with de-cluttering – as you can imagine living in small house with a messy toddler this is a full-time job – and often sell unwanted items on eBay to generate a few extra pennies. However, I seem to be much better at saving money during the winter months. Once the sun comes out I find I’ll want to update my wardrobe, and plan days out so my day-to-day spending gets worse.

Whenever I’ve been saving up for something big such as a wedding, holiday, buying a house etc, I’ve been great at keeping a spending diary. Just the process of writing down every single item you buy always has a huge impact on me, and makes me realise exactly how the “little purchases” really do add up. I haven’t done this in a while though, so I was looking forward to recording my spending this week. However, this is probably one of the worst weeks I could have picked (as you’ll see!), but I’m so glad I did as its shocked me to say the least.

Monday 22nd July

We’d been away all weekend at a friends’ wedding, returning late Sunday evening, meaning there was no time to do the food shop. I booked an online Tesco order for Monday evening, therefore had no lunch to take to work. Worst of all, there was only enough bread left for my daughter to have toast, so I needed to buy breakfast too. I stopped off at Café Nero for a croissant and an apple on my way into the office, and managed to get by with my ‘snack drawer’ for lunch (healthy I know!) My friend then persuaded me to pop out for an ice-lolly at lunchtime – I’m not the best at dealing with peer pressure!

Croissant £1.50

Ice Lolly – £2.50

Apple – 80p

Online food delivery – £76.70

Tuesday 23rd July

I brought lunch into work today, but was again tempted by an ice-lolly. Although in my defence, it was one of the hottest weeks on record so I couldn’t really say no! Once I got home, I browsed the Zara sale and bought a few summery bits for my daughter.

Ice Lolly – £2.50

Zara – £24.92

Wednesday 24th July

My day off. The temperature reached over 35 degrees today so me, my little girl and the dog just stayed at home. I was totally on track to not spend anything at all until a direct debit I’d forgotten about left our bank account taking us over our overdraft limit. I therefore had to transfer £45 from a different account to cover it, and prevent getting hit with an expensive fine.

Bank transfer – £45

Thursday 25th July

At work again, and once again tempted by colleagues to pop over to the nearby Cafe Nero. I bought a pink lemonade, which in hindsight wasn’t worth the price as I only drank half of it. I really need to get stronger at saying no when peer pressure arises! After work I popped into Tesco to look for a paddling pool for my daughter, which they were all sold out of. However, I did still spend nearly £10 on a bottle of some bargain bucket sunflowers, Prosecco, and supplies to make dessert.

Café Nero – £2.50

Tesco – £9.34

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Friday 26th July

I’ve been dreading writing this one down, as I did something I said I never do – I made an impulse buy. My daughter’s favourite TV programme is ‘In the Night Garden’, and I spotted that the live show was coming to our local theatre in two weeks’ time, so couldn’t resist buying us some tickets. I know that it’ll be a wonderful day out and I won’t regret it though. I think being a working mum, the one thing I really struggle with (other than getting all the housework done of course!) is ‘mum-guilt’. Purchases like this are to do with that I think, I feel like I want to make sure our days off together are the best they possibly can be.  

I also had to book our online food delivery too – two in one week is not ideal, and this one seemed to be more expensive than usual. Then to top it off I found a mirror on eBay for a complete bargain price so made yet another purchase. In my defence, this wasn’t really an impulse buy as I’ve been looking for a hallway mirror for months, struggling to find one for under £120 (so this really was a steal!). But all in all, not a good day for spending at all.

Theatre tickets – £56.50

Online food delivery – £86.16

Mirror – £49.99

Saturday 27th July

It was forcasted to rain all day long, so in an attempt to come up with some free entertainment I printed out some colouring sheets from the internet, for my daughter to scribble on. We had a lovely quiet day at home, and I managed to avoid any spending at all! Perhaps I don’t need expensive entertainment to enjoy our days together after all…

Dove Cottage Blog


Sunday 28th July

Another rainy day meant I cracked on with some DIY I’ve been meaning to get done for weeks. For this I had to pop to Homebase to pick up some supplies, which cost £12.50. I also ordered some fabric paint from eBay, costing £3.13. You’ll be pleased hear that’s it for this week though, it’s been one of the worst weeks I’ve had for months so a spending crackdown is definitely on for August!  

DIY supplies – £12.50
Fabric paint – £3.13

Total spending: £374.04

I’m ashamed to be sharing this amount to be honest, as its nothing like my normal weekly spending at all. It has, however, been eye opening for me to write down. No more impulse buys for a while!

Thank you Sam for you brilliant story telling and honesty. I have been tweeting about mu guilt this week and have had many messages from mums. Its tough being a working mum, and wanting to treat your babies when you have time off.

A brilliant post and a great start to the Mummypenny Spending Diaries.



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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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