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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168 thoughts on “Take a Look Back”

  1. O.M.G.!!!! Last month, I spent close to $1500 on groceries! I had no idea! I realize that costs are rising but that seems ridiculous to me for a family of 3 (myself and 2 sons). I have now separated my groceries and household maintenance costs. It’s tough because I think that there are some clothing costs in there as well. I also need to separate those moving forward. I shop a lot at Superstore so I am trying to be more aware of their points offerings and use those. I am trying to buy some organic foods but I may need to cut back. They’re just too pricey at times. Produce costs a lot and my sons eat a lot of fruit and I eat a lot of veggies. Any tips on cheap, local produce in the Lower Mainland of BC?

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  2. I notice I spend a lot on things we don’t need, such as makeup and McDonald’s and just the I wants, a few hundred I’m seeing.

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  3. Nothing really struck me when I looked at last month’s expenses. My expenses were very typical and they followed the pattern I have observed over the years. One concern though is that I keep spending slightly above my budget, particularly with regard to the variable monthly expenses.

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