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. Looking at everything together, 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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229 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?

    Reply
    • Hey Elizabeth! I hear you! I am by myself and am ALWAYS over on my food budget. I came from a poor environment and didnt get beyond basics so I OVERBUY if I go to certain stores so I cancelled costco and Sams club it makes no sense for 1. I have set up a list am gonna try shop online the fees are less than an uber back and forth and I will stick to my list but its a tough one for me.

      Im looking at local farmers markets for cheaper produce and frozen stuff for F&Vegs.
      Regards, Connie

    • I’m with you on groceries. A trip to the store costs me twice as much today as it did at the beginning of the year. It is frightening. Talking with neighbors it seems like they are experiencing the same from food prices that go up and up. What to do? I am looking for less expensive food. It may vary by your location but in California Grocery Outlet has good produce at half the price of my upscale market and Farmer’s Market. They also have less expensive chicken, pork, sausage and cheese. Trader Joe’s has great prices on all sorts of interesting food items.

  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.

    Reply
  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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  4. I spend a lot of money paying off debt and I think that’ll be the case for a couple of months. Less than 1/4 of my pay goes to bills, the rest outside of about 15%goest towards paying down debts. Its a cycle

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  5. I realize I have too many impulse buys…and my grocery bills are way higher than they should be. I need to reel it in when I get excited about things like buying games for my son’s birthday.

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  6. This left me with a bit of a tummy ache! I am spending way more than I make!!!. The only thing that saved me was some side work that I did and the idea behind that is not to survive but to save it. Ugghhhh. I spent so much eating out! It’s crazy. I didn’t categorize but at a glance I could see how many transactions are dining out! It’s crazy. I really need to get my finances together, this has been a cloud over my head, what seems like, most of my life.

    Reply
  7. I am definitely spending on too many wants and I do recognize I am the spender in the family. The budget will help me decrease spending frivolously.

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  8. I spent about what I thought but way to much getting food delivered. I had some unusually large expensive since I let myself get behind in my bills.

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  9. As someone who has struggled with impulse purchases and eating out, it’s a humbling and eye opening experience to see just how much I spent on eating out as well as small little purchases I justify to myself. Seeing first hand how much I’ve been spending on these things has opened my eyes. With a proper budget and some sacrifice and discipline, I can become much more intentional with my spending moving forward.

    Reply
  10. We definitely spend a bit more than we bring in. The credit card bill is more than we would like to pay and is way too easy to spend with.

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  11. Amazing to see how much money I spent on nonsense, eating out or having food delivered. I love to cook and have Butcher Box delivered every six weeks. Why am I being so lazy and wasting money? Glad I’m getting back to using a budget.

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  12. I spent over 1,400 dollars on eating out, buying gifts, and 60 on gas. I spent probably 400 dollars on gifts, so I’m spending over 1,000 dollars on just eating out and misc. items. Too much money eating out and Door Dashing…

    Reply
  13. My problem is I am not saving or donating. I am helping my adult daughter some with living expenses and it is getting really difficult to save for the biannual expenses like car insurance, property tax, home owners insurance.

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  14. ok does this mean, start with gross income and include taxes and retirement contributions and cost of health insurance, or, stat with just the net?

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  15. i looked at the past 6 months; holy cow
    i am not giving as i had planned and feel super guilty
    i am not saving at all except my 401k at work and feel super stupid
    i am overspending in an undisciplined way, consistently and feel like a total jackass
    alllll this has got to change!

    Reply
  16. I spend most of my income on mortgage, groceries, bills, auto upkeep and maintenance, and revolving debt payments. It all adds up!

    I do spend a small amount on wants, but not over the top, in my opinion. I have a decent paying job, but not enough income to save as much as I feel I need to get ahead of the game.

    Reply
  17. Helping pay for my daughter’s wedding is top on the list and it will be for 2023 – Next up is Amazon – OMG – before clicking, if I really don’t “need” it, I’ve started to stay off Amazon. It is no longer a daily – what’s on special today – purchase.

    Reply
  18. I noticed I spent too much money on going out to eat instead of cooking at home. and shopping for the kids and grandkids instead of paying off the debt or saving. Shopping for unnecessary things need to stop until debt is paid and savings is growing. I will focus on needs and not wants until I am debt free

    Reply
  19. I spend more than I have coming in. I buy extra because worried about not having money when goods are needed. This cause chaos.
    I have enough money if I budget and not impulse shop.

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  20. We spent a fortune on groceries, entertainment, and retail spending without having an idea what we were doing. I will be looking at it on a daily basis until we get caught up.

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  21. My housing is biggest cost. AT some point Ill have to downsize.
    Spent way to much on vacation, eating out and ubers! And groceries!
    Im trying a no spend week.

    Connie

    Reply
  22. I overspend on clothing – way too much online shopping. I need to break the habit of doing this when I’m bored.

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  23. I realized that I spent way way too much on my lottery and just impulse buying I did go over my budget as well and I now see this as a big eye opener and it is way past time for things to change.

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  24. Looking back at my past expenses makes me realize how much money I’m wasting on conevenience spending, especially with food and takeout. So many drinks like coffee and tea for example. And I’m not saving anything.

    Reply
  25. I was struck that I’m spending less than my income every month. But, instead of putting the excess into savings or paying down debt I’m spending the money on “extras” that I don’t need. Then, when an emergency or an out-of-the-ordinary expense comes up I put it on the credit card.

    Reply
  26. Well….I’m depressed now. I knew we (my husband & I) were over spending because that’s the only explanation why our savings keep on getting lower and lower, I just didn’t realize how much! and is a lot! between take-outs, hobbies and groceries is just ridiculous, aside from the fact that everything is more expensive and our paychecks are exactly the same!….is just overwhelming and so frustrating.

    Reply
  27. I was only able to check as far back as July and my spending increase in August due to the back to school expenses, for this month is looking more in line but I’m not sure what is the median for my monthly expenses

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  28. I actually tend to overspend sometimes, specially when I’m not on a budget. However, good budget hopefully will help me stay on track.

    Reply
  29. Looking back on last months spending, unfortunately a very bad month due to family medical emergency, I spend way too much on takeaway and impulse buys.
    I’ve never looked back at exactly what I’ve spent my wage on, such an eye opener.
    Now I know and it is going to stop.

    Reply

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