How to track your expenses

Do you know how much you are actually spending?

Creating a budget or spending plan helps you to stay on top of your expenses. Some people believe a budget means that you are on a strict diet. I like to use the term spending plan and equate it to a lifestyle change. A spending plan does not mean you cannot spend money on some of the things you enjoy. A spending plan is a tool to help you understand what is coming in and what is going out. It’s important to understand where your money is going so you can find ways to improve your financial health.

It is important to be accurate when entering your expenses on your spending plan. If you are not accurate, a spending plan will not be beneficial. Tracking your spending is important so that you do not forget expenses. MSU Extension’s Foreclosure Toolkit offers the following suggestions on ways to track your expenses.

  • Checkbook/bank statements - helpful if you use checks/banking card for all of your expenses
  • Envelope - cash is placed in separate envelopes for each expense
  • Receipts - keep all receipts and input amounts weekly/monthly in appropriate areas on your spending plan
  • Spending Calendar - use a calendar to mark when bills are paid and expenses for the day and be sure to include the amount of each expense
  • Computer Software - various computer programs can track your expenses and you can print out weekly or monthly expenses
  • Notebook/paper - keep a small notebook or piece of paper with you to track daily spending.

Once you track your expenses, you will have an accurate account of where your money is going. This will help you see areas that you can cut and save money to meet your financial goals.

Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy. For more information of classes in your area, go to either or Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health.

Michigan State University Extension has released a new toolkit for homeowners who are experiencing or have previously experienced foreclosure. This toolkit will equip these individuals and families with tools to help them recover their financial stability, in the case that a recovery of their home is not possible. The toolkit is available to download free at

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