Budgeting 101: Tracking Your Expenses
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Easy Ways to Track Your Expenses

Posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 8:00 am
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We've come up with some easy ways to track your spending which anyone can adopt! When creating a family budget it’s essential to understand how much money you have in addition to how you plan on spending it. Keeping track of your expenses allows you to understand where your money is going and if you’re budgeting your finances in the most efficient ways possible. Now that we’ve covered how important it is to record and keep track of your expenses, the real question is how to go about doing that! We’ve come up with some easy ways to track your spending which anyone can adopt!

How to Track Your Spending

1. For the Tech Savvy – The Mint App

With Mint you can keep track of all your account balances, recent transactions, and see how well your investments are performing.  Mint’s helpful tools also allow you to create financial goals, like saving for a luxurious trip to Hawaii, and keep track of your progress in an easy to read graphic. In addition to organizing and categorizing your spending, this app makes suggestions on where you could save money in easy and ways while also providing expert financial advice. If you don’t want to use Mint in app form you can always make an account online. To download this app for iPads, iPhones, Androids, or Tablets click here.

2. No Fuss No Muss – Excel Spreadsheets

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and dirty way to keep track of your spending we recommend doing it with Excel spreadsheets. Customizing a spreadsheet to account for your unique spending habits can be a big advantage over apps and other budgeting resources. With spreadsheets you can track your expenses and spending, but you can also perform your own analysis. This means creating charts, graphs, etc. to analyze your spending over time plus understanding how each month’s spending varies. However, if you’re not experienced with Excel, don’t be intimidated! To get started check out this free budgeting template.

3. For the Forgetful Ones – A Notebook and Pen

If you tend to pay for items in cash and throw away your receipts it is definitely more difficult to track your expenses. A simple solution is to keep a notebook and pen on hand. We know this sounds too easy to be true, but it really can work. Every time you pay for something in cash just take out your notebook and write it down! At the end of the day, week, or month simply enter it onto your spreadsheet or onto your Mint.com profile to see how you spend your money!


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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.