More For Your Money - University of Illinois Extension

Tracking Your Flexible Expenses

Now that you know your income and your fixed and occasional expenses, you need to track all of your flexible expenses.  Tracking helps to let you know where you spend your money.  It helps you make a spending plan that will be realistic and useful.  It also helps you adjust your plan as your needs change.

There are many ways to track your expenses.  You can choose one, or mix and match, or create your own method.  The important thing is to track them!  Ask other people in your household to keep track of the money they spend, too.

Step 1

Use the form, Family Flexible Expenses, to track your expenses. Enter what you bought or whom you paid, the date of your payment, and the amount you spent.  If you write checks for most of your bills and purchases, enter the amounts into your tracking form.  You may be surprised to see where your money goes!

If You Don’t Want to Use the Online Form...

You can also put your bills and receipts into envelopes. Label individual envelopes with the categories from the Family Flexible Expenses form, such as food, clothing, grooming, household supplies, etc. When you get a bill or a receipt when you buy something, put it into the correct envelope.

Or, you can write your expenses on an index card or in a small notebook.

Step 2

When you have finished tracking your expenses for the month, the Family Flexible Expenses form will show you how much you spent. Or, using your envelopes or notebook add up what you spent in each category.  Then, add all of the categories to find out the total amount you spent.  Where did you spend the most money?  You may be surprised to find out that you spent so much money in a month!

Tracking your expenses can be hard work the first time you do it. But, it is worth the effort!  You are taking a big step towards telling your money where to go rather than asking where it went.