How To Track Your Expenses Effectively

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph June 29, 2023
Updated 2023/06/29 at 5:31 PM
How To Track Your Expenses Effectively

How To Track Your Expenses Effectively

Monitoring your expenditures regularly enables you to obtain a precise overview of how you allocate your funds and where you would prefer them to be allocated instead. Once you have established a budget, you can effectively track and manage all your upcoming financial obligations.

However, before you begin inputting figures into a spreadsheet or application, it is important to take a moment to enumerate each of your monthly expenses.

To achieve financial success, it is necessary to alter your financial behaviours. This can be accomplished by creating a budget and adhering to it. One effective method for doing so is by monitoring your expenses.

This technique holds the key to transforming your budget from mere intentions into remarkable achievements. Now, let’s discuss four steps on how to track your expenses and explore why it holds such significance.

The following steps will guide you in initiating the process of monitoring your monthly expenses.

How To Track Your Expenses Effectively          

Examine The Account Statements:

Identify your financial behaviour by thoroughly examining all of your financial accounts, such as your checking account and all credit cards you possess. Analyzing these accounts will enable you to recognize your spending tendencies.

Your expenditures can be divided into two categories: fixed expenses and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are typically consistent from month to month and encompass payments for mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, and debt. On the other hand, you have more flexibility in adjusting variable expenses like food, clothing, and travel.

Classify Your Expenditures:

Start by categorizing your expenses. Certain personal finance websites and credit cards have features that categorize your purchases automatically, such as labelling them as “department store” or “automotive.” You may discover that those impulsive purchases at Target are actually draining your finances. Alternatively, you might realize that you’re paying for subscription services on a regular basis that you could easily live without.

Afterwards, separating these expenses into necessities and non-essentials can assist you in structuring your budget and determining where to allocate your money. This becomes particularly important if you need to cut back on expenses in order to create room for savings or to pay off debts.


These are unavoidable expenses that cannot be avoided. If you adhere to the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, these expenses should make up 50% of your total expenditure. Essential expenses typically include the following:

  • Housing:
  • Payment for mortgage or rent; homeowners or renters insurance; property tax (if not already included in the mortgage payment).
  • Transportation:
  • Car payment, fuel expenses, maintenance costs, and auto insurance; public transportation fees.
  • Health care:
  • Health insurance premiums; out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  • Life insurance.
  • Utilities:
  • Electricity and natural gas bills; water charges; sanitation/garbage disposal fees; internet expenses; cell phone and/or landline bills.
  • Basic necessities: Groceries, toiletries, haircuts, and other essential items.
  • Child care expenses.
  • Student loan payments; minimum payments for other loans; child support or alimony obligations.


It can be challenging to include these expenses in a budget since they don’t necessarily have a fixed monthly cost. When following the 50/30/20 budget rule, discretionary expenses can make up to 30% of your total spending.

Examples of these expenses include:

  • Clothing, accessories, and jewellery.
  • Eating out at restaurants or enjoying special meals at home (such as grilling steaks).
  • Purchasing alcoholic beverages.
  • Buying tickets for movies, concerts, and events.
  • Paying for gym or club memberships.
  • Covering travel costs like airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and rental cars.
  • Subscribing to cable or streaming services.
  • Treating yourself to self-care activities like spa visits and pedicures.
  • Investing in home decorations.

Track Your Income:

When you receive your regular salary, allocate it to the income section of your budget. If you earn additional money from a side job or by selling something, make sure to record that as well!

This step is highly crucial, especially if your income is inconsistent. Remember that you estimated your income on the lower side when creating your budget. Therefore, if your actual income exceeds your expectations, this is the right time to make adjustments. You can allocate the extra money to existing budget categories or accommodate additional expenses.

Even if you have a steady income, it’s still important to keep track of it! Firstly, this allows you to verify that your paycheck is accurate. Secondly, it helps you stay connected to your budget, which is always a significant achievement.

Saving And Paying Off Debt:

This refers to the funds allocated for your future retirement, emergency situations, and additional savings. It is also utilized to reduce high-interest debts like credit cards and harmful loans such as payday loans. This category encompasses any amount exceeding the minimum payment required for beneficial debts like student loans and mortgages. In the 50/30/20 budgeting approach, this portion should make up 20% of your income.

  • Funds set aside for unexpected expenses.
  • Money is saved for various purposes.
  • Retirement savings in a personal account.
  • Additional investments.
  • Payments made towards credit card balances (refer to budgeting tip below).
  • Extra payments towards your mortgage.
  • Extra payments towards your student loans.

Create A Budget:

Sum up your costs for each classification of necessities, desires, and savings/obligations, and then input your monthly take-home pay.

Regularly review and modify your budget every few months to suit your needs. It may be helpful to utilize a budgeting application to monitor your spending, saving time while you establish a consistent budgeting routine. If you encounter difficulties, consider implementing these budgeting suggestions.

Apps For Tracking Expenses Or Budgeting:

Budgeting applications such as You Need a Budget and Mint have been developed to facilitate convenient money management while on the move. These apps enable users to allocate a specific amount of disposable income each month based on their earnings and expenditures. Utilizing such apps requires the willingness to log purchases, invest time, and adhere to the budget.

The value of a paid app depends on the benefits it offers. For instance, You Need a Budget costs $99 per year or $14.99 per month (following a 34-day free trial). However, it provides advantageous features such as the ability to synchronize transactions directly from the user’s bank account and access to live workshops conducted by the company’s support team.


When monitoring your finances, it’s important to be prepared for changes. Making modifications to major fixed costs in your daily life, such as housing, transportation, and utility expenses, can greatly influence your budget. Furthermore, explore other methods to cut expenses and save money, which will provide you with some financial flexibility

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