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Spending Tracker

Keeping track of what you earn and everything you spend money on for a month, rather than just a week or two, lets you see all of your income and expenses in one place. Many people who track their spending for a month discover they're spending money in small ways that add up and sometimes don’t match their priorities. Once they track their spending, many people can find money to save for emergencies, unexpected expenses and goals. Others are able to balance their budgets.

What to do

Spending Tracker

Get a small container or envelope

Every time you spend money, get a receipt and put it into the container or envelope. If it doesn’t list what you purchased, take a few seconds and write it directly on the receipt. If you don’t get a receipt, write down the amount and what you purchased on a piece of paper and add it to the stack.


Analyze your spending

Go through your receipts and enter the total you spent each week based on the categories below. Add the weekly amounts per category. Once you have these totals, add them together to get your total spending for the month. If tracking your spending for a whole month seems too difficult, try it for just one or two weeks.


Notice trends

Circle items that are the same every month (like rent, car or cell phone payments). These are often your needs and obligations. This'll make creating your budget easier. Identify any areas you can eliminate or cut back on – these will generally be wants.


Spending Tracker

Cell phone

Any costs related to having and using your cell phone


Debt payment

Credit card, payday loan, pawn loan, auto title loan or any other loan payments


Eating out

Any meals or beverages purchased outside of the home


Education and childcare

Childcare costs, school supplies, school material fees, field trips or other activity fees


Entertainment and personal care

Movies or concerts, sports equipment/fees, sporting events, lottery tickets, alcohol, books/CDs, subscriptions, streaming services, haircuts, hygiene items, dry cleaning, etc.


Groceries and other supplies

Food and beverages brought into the home, household supplies (diapers, paper towels, etc.)


Health expenses

Copayments, medication, eye care, dental care, health insurance premiums


Helping others

Donations to religious organizations or other charities, gifts


Housing and utilities

Rent, mortgage, insurance, property taxes, electricity, gas, water and sewage, landline, television, Internet service



Food, vet bills, and other costs associated with caring for your pets



Gas, car payment, insurance, repairs, transit fares, ride services, cabs



  • Court-ordered expenses (child support, restitution)
  • Household items (things for your home like cleaning supplies, kitchen appliances, furniture, other equipment)
  • Savings (saving for emergencies, goals, back-to-school expenses, holiday purchases, children’s education, retirement)
  • Tools or other job-related expenses (equipment, special clothing, job-related books, machinery, working animals or livestock, union dues)
Spending Tracker Workbook
Download this fillable PDF to help track your monthly spending.


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