Tools for Tracking Your Spending

Download or print a monthly expense tracker to help track your spending.

Monthly Expense Tracker

Calculator & Spending Planner for Personal Expense Planning

The idea of tracking your expenses can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve been avoiding it for a while or have never done it before. But once you get started really looking at your budget and finances, you’ll feel a sense of relief and control. Finally getting on top of your money and debts comes with huge pay offs: peace of mind and no more debts!

We all have different reasons for tracking our expenses. Maybe you’re curious about where your money is going, are working towards a specific goal, or want to deal with your debt once and for all. Whatever your reasons, we’ve got the tools and resources to help you get started.

An image of our excel monthy spend tracking spreadsheet

Track your spending using a simple Excel spreadsheet, choose from a list of comprehensive expense categories, and personalize things by renaming any category to make tracking easier.

The cover page of our hardcopy monthly expense tracking pdf.

If you prefer to write expenses down as they happen or want to carry a little booklet with you, then you can download and print our easy-to-use Monthly Expense Tracker PDF.                                                                              

Easy Instructions If You Download the Printable PDF

  1. Open a copy of our Monthly Expense Tracker.
  2. The expense categories listed below and on page 1 of the Expense Tracker will help you decide which expenses to record where.
  3. For each week, record dates you are tracking. For example, a 7 day tracking period would be March 30th to April 5th. The next week would start on April 6th.
  4. Record cash balances on hand or in your bank account. You should also list any income you may expect to receive during each week.
  5. List the dates down the left side and record actual money spent each day. You can then use the blank columns to create your own categories. You may want to track coffees, dining out, or fuel separately.
  6. You also need to record weekly savings amounts on pages 14 – 15 of the Expense Tracker. On these pages, keep track of seasonal expenses rather than recording on your weekly pages.
  7. Total all columns and subtract actual expenses from actual income. If there’s a surplus, you should have money in your wallet or bank account. This becomes the cash balance for the next week.

View a sample of a completed tracker (from the previous version of our Monthly Expenses Tracker).

A person holds a magnifying glass over an expense tracking spreadsheet.

Personal Budgeting

Whether this is your first time tracking your expenses or you’re getting back to it because your situation has changed, we’ve got some helpful tips and tools to get you started. Our expense calculator and budget tracker are designed to make things simple for you.

If you need more immediate financial help or simply prefer to speak with someone face-to-face, our friendly, accredited financial counsellors are available to answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you work out your expenses and budget.

Know Your Spending Habits

You can track as you spend money or you collect receipts and track at the end of the day or week. However you do it, your goal is to see what you’re spending money on so that you can figure out how to spend it more wisely.

When you first start tracking expenses, you might be tempted to jot down what you should be spending. Silence your inner editor, fight that urge and just spend as you normally would. Tracking your expenses isn’t meant to make you feel guilty and stop you from spending. Rather, it’s meant to highlight what your habits are so that you can make some choices and changes later.

A person inputs numbers into a personal budgeting spreadsheet.
A woman creates a budget planner on her laptop.

Make a Budget Planner

It isn’t realistic to think that you’ll track your spending forever. Even tracking your spending for a month is great and you can use what you learned to improve your monthly budget.

For example, if you know from tracking your expenses that you’re spending more than you thought you were on eating out, then you can focus on cutting down that activity to get your budget to where you want it to be.

Life can be unpredictable, so if your circumstances do change, go back to tracking for another few weeks to get your spending in line with your new level of expenses or income.


Not sure where to start with budgeting?

Get help from an expert.

It can feel overwhelming to make and stick to a budget. One of our professional credit counsellors would be happy to guide you through this process by carefully reviewing your whole financial situation with you and answering any questions you have. Speaking with our certified counsellors is always free, confidential and without obligation.

Categorizing Expenses and How to Decide What Groups to Track

Categories are key! Record where you spend your money by categorizing your expenses. The list below highlights the most popular expense categories where people tend to spend their money.

You can also track your spending by choosing the types of stores you shop at. If you usually shop for groceries, personal care, and paper/household products all at one superstore, having a category with the name of the store might work better for you.

There are no right or wrong categories, but remember that you’ll need enough to track your spending accurately.

A pie chart showing personal expense categories.
A person using the Credit Counselling Society's budget tracking spreadsheet on their laptop.

Personal Household Expense Tracking Tool

To make budgeting easier and more fun, we’ve created a budget calculator that guides you as you create your personal or household budget. This budget calculator makes suggestions and warns you if it looks like you may be spending too much money in any area of your budget. Once you’re finished, it can review your budget and see if it can find any ways for your to improve your spending plan or save some money. Check it out for free on PC and Mac through Excel, Numbers, or OpenOffice.

Expense Categories - Know Where Your Money is Going

Housing: mortgage, rent, strata fees, house insurance, property taxes

Utilities: phone/cell, cable/internet, gas, hydro, security

Household: furnace, water tank, roof and gutters, decor, upgrades, storage locker, gardening, cleaning services, outdoor equipment and maintenance

Groceries: food, baby needs, household supplies, toiletries

Living: personal care, bank fees, salon and spa services, dry cleaning, pet costs, memberships (fitness, clubs, associations)

Transportation: fuel, auto insurance, transit, parking, taxi, rentals, car sharing, tolls

Health Care: medical premiums, life insurance, medication, eye care, dental, supplements, wellness costs

Personal: tobacco, alcohol, books, music, clothing and shoes, donations, subscriptions

Eating Out: meals, snacks, take-out, beverages (coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks)

Entertainment: recreation, sports equipment and fees, movies, concerts, hobbies, gaming

Child: daycare, lessons and activities, allowance, school supplies and fees, babysitting, programs, tutors

Debt Payments: credit cards, loans, leases, support payments, government debts, personal debt

Savings: emergency fund, RRSPs, RESPs, TFSAs, seasonal expenses (e.g. car repairs or maintenance, travel – vacations or staycations, gifts for birthdays or holidays, assisting family or friends)

Business Expenses: materials, labour, taxes, professional or administrative fees, human resources, uniforms or clothing

Get started with your budget.

Speak with a non-profit credit counsellor.

The most important part of tracking your expenses is to start. Don’t wait until you have the perfect monthly expense tracker system or all the right categories for your budget. Dive right in, get started and adjust your method as you go. If you need help, we’re just a quick call, email, or online chat away!

Get Some Help – It’s Free

Get a free appointment to explore your options and get back on track.

Related Topics

7 Steps to a Budget

No matter how much or how little you earn, here’s how to build a budget that works!

Loan Calculator

Find out how much you can afford to borrow and repay, how long it will take, and what it will cost.

Credit Counselling

Are you curious about what credit counselling is or how it works? Here’s what you need to know.