Monthly Expense Tracker, Calculator & Spending Planner - Personal Budgeting
To start, write down what you spend for 2 weeks to see where your money is going. Here's how or call us for help getting started:
When you think of tracking your expenses, what comes to mind? Maybe you’re curious about where your money is going. Or do you dread the thought of having to write down every penny you spend?
Most people only track their spending for a couple of weeks so that they can see where their money is actually going. Other people only track certain types of expenses, like where they spend their cash.
Tracking your spending can be as easy or as hard as you make it, but when you're trying to get on top of your money and debts, the pay off for doing so is huge!
Expense Calculator and Tracker - Personal Budgeting
If this is your first time tracking your expenses, or if you're getting back to it because your situation has changed, below are a few helpful tips and tools to help you get started.
However, if you've got a lot of bills you're trying to manage, we're happy to help you get started. Every day our Counsellors help their clients figure out their expenses and budget. We're experts at it, so contact us for a free appointment and we'll share our best help with you too!
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Tracking where your money is going is the process of writing down what you spend. You may use a little notebook to do this, a spreadsheet, an app on your phone or tablet, or other software programs. You may track as you spend money or you might collect receipts and track at the end of the day or week. Regardless of which method you choose, the purpose is the same; you want to see what you’re spending your money on so that you can make some decisions about how to spend it more wisely.
When you first start tracking expenses, you might be tempted to jot down what you should be spending. Silence your inner editor, fight that urge and just spend as you normally would. Tracking your expenses isn’t meant to make you feel guilty and stop you from spending. Rather, it’s meant to highlight what your habits are so that you can make some choices and changes later.
It’s not realistic to think that you’ll track your spending forever. Even tracking your spending for a month is great, be proud of yourself and incorporate what you learned into your monthly budget. Life can be unpredictable, so if your circumstances do change, go back to tracking for another few weeks to get your spending in line with your new level of expenses or income.
Where do you start? If you’re not sure how to start tracking, here are two options to get you started. The key things to remember is keep it simple, go easy on yourself and ask for help if you need it. Old habits are hard to break!
Two Options to Help You Track Your Spending
We have two different tools for you to chose from to track your spending. You can download our Excel Monthly Tracking Worksheet. It allows you to track your spending using a simple Excel spreadsheet, choose from a list of comprehensive expense categories, and personalize things by renaming any category to make tracking easier. Alternatively, if you prefer to write expenses down as they happen or want to carry a little booklet with you, then you can download and print our easy-to-use Monthly Expense Tracker (PDF).
- Click here to open a copy of our Monthly Expense Tracker.
- The expense categories listed below and on page 1 of the Expense Tracker will help you determine which expenses to record where.
- For each week, record dates you are tracking. For example, a 7 day tracking period would be March 30th to April 5th. The next week would start on April 6th.
- Record cash balances on hand or in your bank account. You should also list any income you may expect to receive during each week.
- List the dates down the left side and record actual money spent each day. You can then use the blank columns to create your own categories. You may want to track coffees, dining out or fuel separately.
- You also need to record weekly savings amounts on pages 14–15 of the Expense Tracker. On these pages, keep track of seasonal expenses, rather than recording on your weekly pages.
- Total all columns and subtract actual expenses from actual income. If there is a surplus, this means you should have money in your wallet or bank account. This becomes the cash balance for the next week.
How to Choose Expense Categories for Tracking
Categories are key! In order to record where you spend your money, you will need to categorize your expenses. The list below highlights the most popular expense categories, where people tend to spend their money.
You can also track your spending by choosing the types of stores you shop at. If you usually shop for groceries, personal care and paper/household products all at one superstore, having a category with the name of the store might work better for you.
Lastly, there is no right or wrong category, but remember that you'll need enough categories in order to track your spending accurately.
Housing: mortgage, rent, strata fees, house insurance, property taxes
Utilities: phone/cell, cable/internet, gas, hydro, security
Household: furnace, water tank, roof and gutters, decor, upgrades, storage locker, gardening, cleaning services, outdoor equipment and maintenance
Groceries: food, baby needs, household supplies, toiletries
Living: personal care, bank fees, salon and spa services, dry cleaning, pet costs, memberships (fitness, clubs, associations)
Transportation: fuel, auto insurance, transit, parking, taxi, rentals, car sharing, tolls
Health Care: medical premiums, life insurance, medication, eye care, dental, supplements, wellness costs
Personal: tobacco, alcohol, books, music, clothing and shoes, donations, subscriptions
Eating Out: meals, snacks, take-out, beverages (coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks)
Entertainment: recreation, sports equipment and fees, movies, concerts, hobbies, gaming
Child: daycare, lessons and activities, allowance, school supplies and fees, babysitting, programs, tutors
Debt Payments: credit cards, loans, leases, support payments, government debts, personal debt
Savings: emergency fund, RRSPs, RESPs, TFSAs, seasonal expenses (e.g. car repairs or maintenance, travel - vacations or staycations, gifts for birthdays or holidays, assisting family or friends)
Business Expenses: materials, labour, taxes, professional or administrative fees, human resources, uniforms or clothing
A Quick Way to Apply These Expense Categories to Your Budget
To make budgeting easier and more fun, we've created a budget calculator that guides you as you create your personal or household budget. It makes suggestions and warns you if it looks like you may be spending too much money in any area of your budget. Once you're finished, it can review your budget and see if it can find any ways for your to improve your spending plan or save some money. Check it out. It's available for free on both the PC and Mac on Excel, Numbers, and OpenOffice.
Get started! The most important part of tracking your expenses is to start. Don't wait until you have the perfect monthly expense tracker system or all the right categories for your budget. Dive right in, get started and adjust your method as you go.
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