Budget with a Why: Look in the Mirror

Have you looked in the mirror lately?

You’re thinking, “What does my bathroom mirror have to do with budgeting?” Looking at our money habits is a little like looking in the mirror.  When we look at our spending, saving, and giving habits, we can see ourselves a bit more clearly.

We asked Karisa to take a look at her money mirror, and here’s what she said:

“Eww, it’s gross looking at my Spending by Envelope report! When I do it for the whole year and it tells me how much I spent for all of last year, it’s just kind of shocking! It’s like, ‘Whoa, I spent that much money!’ I spent a lot of money on clothing, and that’s kind of controllable. Thinking about how many clothes I have in my closet, I know I don’t need to buy more. I have enough — more than enough. So this is one area where I could significantly cut back if I really want to get serious about paying off my debt this year.”

Okay, now your turn!  Look in your money mirror.  Don’t worry if you see something gross.  You gotta see it first before you can deal with it!

  1. Take a look at your Spending by Envelope report.  (That’s your mirror.)
  2. What did you notice about your money habits?  Do you see anything that’s surprising about your spending, saving, or giving?
  3. Stop there!  There will be plenty of time to change things later.  Right now, we’re just taking a peek and assessing the situation.

Tell us what you saw. Comment below!

See the entire Budget with a Why series to create a budget that works! Or, navigate below to check out other steps in the process.

Step 1: Look in the Mirror

Step 2: Reflect

Step 3: Meet Your Money Map

Step 4: Plan Your Route

Step 5: Start Your Journey



  1. More than 50% of my spending is toward bills! We also had some maintenance on both of our cars so far this year. Two flat tires in one month! Hm…

  2. When I look in the mirror I see someone who is not as generous as I want to be. It’s a little painful, but thank you Goodbudget for encouraging me to look for ways to be more generous.

  3. When I really look at where I’m spending my money, I noticed it’s a lot going to entertainment. I’m purchasing too many movies.

  4. We’re not doing a good job planning for those one-off “big-ish” expenses (a new mattress, hosting that big party…). The cost should be manageable if we spread it out, but currently it blows our out grocery or household envelope in the month it occurs.

  5. Here here on the “one-off big-ish” expenses (e.g. painting contractors, high school band trips, etc) …or maybe they aren’t so one-off. My mirror tells me I anticipate but then underfund the envelopes of those larger planned expenses. I need to be more real about the likely cost of such things and then commit to funding the appropriate amount each and every month. Thanks Goodbudget​, you are a superb tool!

    • Yup! Those one-off expenses are tricky. And you might be right that they’re not so one-off… so it’s good to plan a reasonable amount for them.

  6. I spent about $1800 last month on credit card debt. Half of that was paying down debt, which is good. But half was new/recent charges. Imagine if it all was debt paydown.

    • Congrats on paying down some debt! We’re looking forward to hearing where this journey takes you.

  7. My spending is on helping my college students. Yep! Parent loans, room and board & etc. Like others i have household bills. If i have extra funds i may purchase clothing, food or other needed items. I want to spend less and pay more so that i can retire. I dont want to work until die.

  8. That I put a double digit percentage toward expenses that were for the benefit of my now ex-bf. We never got to the point of actually having the frank and open discussion about our finances. I thought I was being thoughtful and generous, while stepping outside of my budget. Instead, I was enabling him not to have one.

    • Oof! Those frank and open discussions can definitely be hard to start. It can be tough to move past the taboo and talk with people we trust.

  9. Our spending is pretty much exactly what we’d expect. The biggest things were new carpet and bed for one of the bedrooms and supporting our son at uni, but on the more everyday expenses front, it was fine. In an ideal world, each envelope would get given just that little bit more, but you can’t spend what you don’t have eh.
    I recently had to increase the petrol budget as we were running out of money for that before the end of the month, but in general our system works very well – we have 3 bank accounts; one for bills, one for everyday spending (food, petrol etc.) and one for savings and less frequent spending (house repairs, car servicing, holidays etc.). We use Goodbudget for the latter 2 accounts (the bills one runs itself as it’s all on direct debit) and we find it a very useful tool for keeping track of what we’ve got in each envelope.

    • ‘You can’t spend what you don’t have.’ Yes!

  10. I realize that selecting gifts is a form of entertainment for me and have now considered larger projects to which I would like that money to be spent.

  11. I see the blessing of spending many years trying to do well with our finances. We didn’t start out well in this area in our marriage. But now I see giving, saving, only a mortgage, and better attitudes toward our funds. All glory To God! Goodbudget has been a KEY factor in regards to the tools I use every single day to keep up with our budget. Appreciate it and recommend it often!!

    • Wow, what a great testimony! We rejoice with you.

  12. You guys have helped me to pay thousands off my mortgage in the past 18 months. I had literally no idea where my money was going! Now I religiously list every bill and particle of spending.
    Thank you so much 🙂

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