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Track your spending with this easy tool

Writing a list of bills on a whiteboard

Have you ever looked at your monthly bank statement and been surprised by your spending? Are you unsure of where your money is really going each month? Do you find yourself struggling to pay your bills and set aside savings? 

Using a spending tracker provides clarity around your spending habits and can help you make decisions to meet your financial goals. Once you have a clear idea of how you spend your money, you’ll be ready to start building a budget.

Budget tool: Spending tracker

Fill out this spending tracker for at least two weeks—or even a month—to get a better picture of your spending habits. Then take a look at your spending and consider:

  • What expenses surprised you?
  • Are there areas where you spent that you now consider unnecessary? 
  • Are you paying for services or subscriptions that you’re not really using?
  • Are there service fees on your credit card or other financial services that you could eliminate? 
  • How does your weekday spending differ from what you spend on weekends?

It’s important to distinguish your needs and obligations from your wants, and to set priorities when it comes to your budget. Obligations typically include things like a mortgage payment or rent, utilities, healthcare, and childcare.

Wants may be a little more difficult to identify. A want may be something like a gym membership, cable subscription, or buying coffee each morning rather than making it at home.

Once you’ve broken down your spending habits by needs and obligations, as compared to wants, you can make more informed decisions about where you spend your money. Spending too much on wants? Try cutting back on some of those in the month ahead. Knowing what you spend on a monthly basis can help you prioritize so you can pay your bills on time, get control of your debt, and start saving for the future.

NEXT: Make a budget

Take control of your finances

The Get a Handle on Debt series gives you tools to manage your debt by budgeting smarter, paying your bills on time, tracking your spending, paying down existing debts, and earning extra income. You can also get money management strategies sent directly to your inbox by signing up for our Get a Handle on Debt boot camp.

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