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Write Down Your Daily Expenditures for One Month

This can be done in many different ways, and it's important to find a method that works best for you. If you aren't sure what will work best, try using this free expense tracker to get you started.

Write down every single penny you spend every day for one month. If you put a quarter in a parking meter, write it down. If you run through the fast food drive-thru, write it down. If you pay your cellphone bill, write it down. Write down absolutely everything you spend every day for one month straight.

For most people, this exercise is a real eye opener. You'll get an honest picture of your spending habits, and you'll be able to make the choice to change your behaviors to align more closely with your values and financial goals.

Once you have recorded your expenditures for a month, go back to your Monthly Expense Form and make the adjustments for next month based on what you see. Could you cancel a few subscriptions and use that money to pay off debt faster? Maybe you could forgo a couple of meals out to boost your emergency savings?

Visit for more budgeting tools.

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.