Author and wealth coach Lisa Barber. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Author and wealth coach Lisa Barber. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Do you know how much you spend?

HERE'S some good news if you love your morning coffee: you don't have to cut it out of your life.

Wealth coach Lisa Barber has nearly three decades of experience helping people work towards their lifestyle dreams, and said she was a big believer of enjoying your life even if working towards something bigger.

"If you look at the cumulative spending of your coffee, (saving $4 a day) is never going to make you wealthy," Ms Barber said.

"Or the avo on toast for that matter!"

Ms Barber said if people really wanted to get wealthy, or pull themselves out of debt, the biggest thing to do was simply understand their spending patterns.

"Nine out of ten of my clients have no idea how much they spend, and I believe that's true of the general population too," she said.

"We get into a pattern of unconscious spending. We know we take home X amount, but there's an assumption of how far that will actually go."

Wealth coach Lisa Barber says daily coffees are OK. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Wealth coach Lisa Barber says daily coffees are OK. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Ms Barber said the best overview of your spending was simply the money in-money out view that most banks showed you. If you're regularly spending above your income, you need to start examining where that money is going.

Think about overall lifestyle goals, then work backwards.

"Even if the bank is going to lend you $2 million for a home, think carefully about whether you really want to accept that," Ms Barber said.

"You could be giving up other aspects of your lifestyle that are important to you, for example a private education for your kids, or regular overseas travel."

Being conscious about how much you're spending is a sentiment shared by Serina Bird, author of The Joyful Frugalista.

"I track everything I spend at the end of the month," she said.

"Last month I spent more on dining than normal - and that's OK because I had my dad in town and he likes to eat out. But because I know how much I spent, this month I'm really conscious about eating out a lot less."

Ms Bird said by recording everything you would start to understand your purchasing habits, and learn to cut back in areas of overspending.

"If you love that daily coffee, by all means, enjoy it. But budget for it," she said.

"It's not about 'you can't have that', it's about making a conscious choice about what you're buying."

If you want to stay motivated, make it rewarding. "Any time you talk about deprivation it's not fun," Ms Bird said.

"A good way to reward yourself is to write down every time you have held yourself back from something you wanted. And when those unspent dollars add up to a round figure - put that cash somewhere it will have a long-term impact. Maybe on your mortgage, or into an index fund."

Ms Barber said going through your spending could be quite confronting, but it would make a long-term impact to your goals.

"Look at your weaknesses, and address them," she said. "They'll be different for everybody. And you don't need to cut everything out, just be smart about your spending.

"It's the small things that keep you on track, not the giant leaps."

Lisa Barber is working with Cense, a new platform designed to help you change your mind so you can change your money. If you're looking to get on top of your spending, and work towards a long term lifestyle goal, head to to find out more.

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