Marleigh Culver is a graphic designer at Need Supply Co. who also works as a freelancer and artist. When she launched her new project, Spending Notes, which documents her spending via illustrations on Instagram, we had to reach out to find out more.

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What prompted you to start Spending Notes?

I’ve been keeping a simple spreadsheet of my budget for about the past year. 2017 has been a little crazy for me and the last three months of spending have been more than I like to admit. I’ve gone and am going through some life changes this year and am looking to save more and spend less starting with May! I am going one one trip this month, but that will be a good test to chill on swiping my card, I normally go all out on vacation.

I also love reading the Refinery29 Money Diaries so that is the obvious inspiration.

What budgeting strategies have you tried in the past? How did those go?

Besides the spreadsheet above, which was using a template made by a friend and manually inputting my costs in categories and for every day, I have used Digit.co to help save money but other than that, I’ve been terrible at budgeting!

I just love to buy fun and cool and yummy things… The spreadsheet I use is great because it takes a percentage of my monthly income and divides that into what I should be saving, how much I have for lifestyle and what I need for needs like bills and rent etc.

I know you just started but how is it going so far?

I’m trying to keep very aware this month. Don’t go looking at clothes, keep up bringing food from home and make coffee in the morning. I’m looking to move within the next few years if I can afford to, and I really am ready to make a change so that is fueling me to be disciplined.

Any advice for others who want to try something similar?

I encourage everyone to try it! See where you are spending your money unnecessarily and find where you could pull back on spending in certain categories. Using Mint or a spreadsheet or just making your own private diary in your notes app, notebook in your bag or a private Tumblr are great ways to start keeping track of your spending! I especially wanted to do this so I would stop spending money on crappy products and save for independent designers and makers with better quality.

Follow Marleigh on Instagram at @marleigh.alexandra. Follow her project at @spending_notes.