How to Calculate Spending

Track your expenses with a journal.
Track your expenses with a journal. (Image: Pennies on the Dollar - one dollar bill with pennies. image by Andy Dean from

Calculating your spending is as simple as adding up all the payments you make. The only problem is-- if you want accurate records--you must make sure you have a comprehensive list. A journal can help with this, as you can note all your daily expenditures as they occur. You also need to take a good look at monthly, quarterly and annual expenses to be sure you have the full picture.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • Financial records such as checkbook, credit card statements and bank statements
  • Small notebook to record expenditures

Use your journal to record daily expenditures such as coffee, food, newspapers, etc. Take the total expenditures over the course of a month and multiply that number by 12 and add the total to a separate list for annual total expenditures.

Review your checkbook and make a list of all monthly expenditures such as rent, insurance payments and utilities. Multiply monthly expenses by 12 and add them to the annual expenditure list. Multiply quarterly expenses by four and add that total to the same list. Some expenses, such as for tax preparation, may only occur once a year. Add that total to the annual list. Don't forget things like property taxes and holiday expenses.

Review your credit card statements for the past year and add the total expenditures to the annual expenditure list. If there are one-time payments, such as for a major repair, that are not representative of a regular expense you may want to omit them for planning purposes. Other expenses may be recurring, so add those to the total.

Add the totals on your annual expenditure list to get an annual spending total. Divide the total by 12 to get an average monthly spending total.

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