Money Mapping (Budgeting)

Activity 5: Track Expenses: Keep Cash Receipts

Now it’s time to organize the things you spend your money on! Expenses are what you spend money on, whether you pay in cash or with a check, charge to a credit card, or use a debit card.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t figure out exactly what you spend your money on every month. It may take several months to get a really good picture of your spending.

Helpful Tip!

Learn more about credit cards and checking and debit accounts.

Track Expenses: Keep Cash Receipts

(This activity is also available as a blank, downloadable and printable PDF – Download Blank Activity 5 Worksheet)

To figure out how you spend your money, you should begin by saving your cash receipts for at least one month.

This is important because receipts are your only record of how you spend your cash. On the other hand, it is easier to track credit card charges, debit card charges, and checks because they are all recorded on your monthly statement from your credit card company and bank or credit union (you’ll do this in Activity 8).

Keep the receipt for anything you buy with cash in a container. An accordion file works great to keep things organized. You can also scan your receipts and store them electronically. If you didn’t get a receipt then write a note to yourself about what you spent and how much it cost and file it away.

At the end of the month, gather all your receipts and sort them into categories. Make a pile of receipts for each category, such as:

  • Groceries;
  • Personal care items, like toothpaste and soap;
  • Eating out at restaurants or take out;
  • Transportation, like bus tickets, taxis, gas, or tolls;
  • Clothing;
  • Entertainment, like movie tickets, cable TV, or TV/movie streaming services; and
  • Health insurance co-pays.

Helpful Tip!

There are lots of ways to track your expenses to help you create a monthly budget. A Monthly Budget Planner: Sort Your $hit Out by JAD Budget Planner Books is a book that will carry you from January through December with a week-by-week breakdown of every month and questions to help you reflect along the way.

Helpful tip!

You can keep your receipts in a file. It’s important that you keep every receipt for any purchase, not just those made with cash!