Take a Look Back

Week 1 | Day 3 | GB 101: Budget Bootcamp

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Great work estimating your income yesterday! Today, we’ll move on to the next step in creating a sound budgeting foundation: estimating our expenses.

Estimating our expenses is an important step — we all need to know how much we actually spend so we can start planning what we want to spend. But we also need to make sure that what we’re budgeting for is less than the income we’re bringing in. (We’ll worry about that later, though.) For now, let’s focus on estimating. And remember, this is a guilt-free zone — you’re just collecting info right now. The point is to just notice your spending trends and say, “Oh, I see.”

Today’s Assignment

  1. Estimate your expenses. You’ll need to take a look at past spending in order to estimate successfully. Head to your online bank account and take a look at what you spent last month. If you have multiple bank accounts, be sure to check those too so you can get the fullest picture of your spending. (If you’re already using the Goodbudget app, check out your Spending by Envelope report.)
  2. Without categorizing individual transactions, how much did you spend in total last month? How much did you give last month? How much did you save? Note: Some of your spending might not be “typical.” Be sure to still include those expenses in the totals above. Transactions that are unusual will always happen, and we want to work towards making space for them in our budgets. The goal here is to just accept the numbers we see in front of us.
  3. When you looked at what you spent, what struck you? What are your initial thoughts as you look at the numbers? Did you spend more or less than you thought? Did anything surprise you? Share your reflections with us in the comments below!

Note for couples: You can look up your past spending separately or together; just make sure you both take a look at what you find. By the way, if you have kids spending family money, remember to pull that up too.

Happy budgeting,
-The Goodbudget Team

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24 thoughts on “Take a Look Back”

  1. I think overall I spent about what I expected total, but the individual categories were different than expected. Some things I spent way more than I thought and some way less. Good to know.

  2. We spent more than we had budgeted. But we did pay off a credit card with some reserve money, so we didn’t go much over our income.

  3. Well, I had a budget I worked with by 2016. It’s been 3 years since I stopped using Goodbudget (times goes fast!) but those records were yet there so I could updated the new budget and also created a new envelope for savings. We are looking forward to travel next summer so I have set an amount of money we need to save for that purpose. I am still overwhelmed by how much money we need to spend, I am positive, though we will be disciplined again to be able to save some.

  4. There was a big ” oh I see ” moment that’s for sure!! There was a complete lack of budgeting 100% more outgoings than incoming . What struck me when seeing how many random purchases that realistically could have been avoided!

  5. I liked Dominique’s “Oh I see” comment and I agree with Kevin’s sentiment. I was amazed at my compiled list of regular fixed monthly and annual payments.
    And that’s before I get into the regular variable daily living costs.
    As Pensioners we will have to look at all the groups we pay to belong to and assess their worthiness. So budgeting will be an eye opener when we slot the costs into the many sub categories I feel we need (for the moment)!!

  6. I’m sad to say that I didn’t save anything last month and I pretty much spent every dollar that came in. There were a few expenses like AAA that I hadn’t anticipated, and with this month being holiday overload, I’m going to have to work really hard to get some money into my savings account, but I know that I can do it!

  7. I set up an Acorns account & another personal account in the past, so I automatically save $10/week in acorns, and $30/mo in the other, just to start small; so last month I saved $70 by default, so thats making saving easy. I’m surprised by how much its accumulating. I’m spending too much though.

  8. We spend a lot more than we think which is why I think the envelope system will work for us. Also, we need to keep better track of our expenses and work on paying off our credit card balances which is a goal for this year.

  9. Well it is the Christmas season and, of course I spent more than I should have, but I didn’t spend as much as I did last year, as I bought gifts throughout the year.

  10. I am 53 and have never learned how to make a budget! Sad to say the least. I spend way to much money on things. Hopefully having a budget will help with my spending! I can’t wait to get everything set up!!

  11. Yeah, I spent more than my income. I got hit with overdraft fees, too, so that made matters worse. Those “little” purchases sure add up!

  12. not an eye opener for me as much for my husband. I have been telling him all along we were spending too much. Now that he has retired, things are crazy mixed up. I sat him down and showed him what I had down and he was speechless.

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