How We Designed Our Budget Step 3-Tracking Receipts

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

If you think asking for a receipt is tough, wait until you have to ask a credit card company or loan officer not to put your name into collections.

Start today if you are new to budgeting or want to further your knowledge if you’re not already asking for receipts.

Below, I will explain why receipts are essential and how they helped us become debt-free before turning 40.

Receipts are footsteps to help understand spending habits

Asking For A Receipt Is Crucial

You may think the task of asking for a receipt every time you shop will break you, but it gets easier with practice.

Tracking receipts has been one of the most successful ways we’ve been able to footstep our spending habits.

Perhaps it’s been a bit of work to get this far in the budgeting process, but it will be worth it.

In Step 1, we learned what a budget was and what information you needed to gather before moving on to Step 2.

While Step 1 might have been daunting, Step 2 in budget design should have been a bit easier.

You learned how to divide your Net earnings into a budget and spend less than you make.

In Step 3 of designing the budget, you will learn the importance of documentation and how it will affect your monthly budget and results.

Documenting everything you spend is crucial to success when budgeting, not only for peace of mind but to hold yourself accountable for your financial actions.

Tracking Receipts For Budgeting

tracking receipts for budgeting
Importance of Tracking Receipts When Budgeting

Keep track of what you spend. Why do you ask?

Consider the following scenario;

If you spend $5.00 on coffee in cash and fail to document it, that’s $5.00 you have lost a trail to in the budget.

Now you have to figure out why you are short $5.00.

I always ask for a receipt, even at Tim Horton’s, and I’m not embarrassed.

My money, my life.

Related: Why you should always ask for a receipt

Organizing Receipts

What do we do with all these Receipts?

Every time we receive a receipt at the register, we are mindful of where it goes.

Please put it in your wallet in a safe place so it doesn’t end up in a bag, on the floor, or blowing across the parking lot.

We take all the receipts from our wallet and insert them into our file folder, which I keep in my office.

Unloading all of our receipts on the kitchen table is the first step, and either I or Mrs. CBB will put them in the folder.

At the end of the month, before I finalized the budget, we checked our wallets to ensure we did not miss tracking receipts for that month.

Excel Budget Spreadsheet

Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet Screen shot

Then what do we do with all the receipts in the file? We organize and enter the data.

Typically, at the end of the week, on a Sunday after our grocery shopping trip, we enter the receipts into the Daily Expenses portion of the budget spreadsheet.

The budget worksheet has been formulated, so it does all the work for you, although we offer two different versions of our Excel budget spreadsheet.

The Monthly Excel Budget Worksheet Contains the following;

  • Date of Purchase
  • Where you purchased the items, i.e., store drop-down list
  • How much does it cost?
  • How much in coupons did you use?
  • Did you use a Gift Card to pay?
  • What did you use to pay? I.e., debit, credit card (which one)
  • What items did you purchase? – Put a snapshot of purchases made
  • You will also see how much you saved during the shop.
  • There is an area for notes, which have come in handy more than a million times for us.

This data, when saved, is also saved on your Budget Sheet from Step 2 and updates as you input data into the worksheet.

You can quickly see how much you have spent in your designated categories according to the numbers you set.

If you ask yourself, “How much have we spent on groceries this month?” you can easily see how much and what you have left to spend in your grocery budget.

Using an Excel budget spreadsheet for tracking receipts is comparable to having your money in Jars but with the ability to see the instant amount left in the jar without having to count.

Related: Budgeting using the jar system

If I can teach my parents how to do this, you can, too!

Paper and Pen- Tracking Receipts Documentation

Write it in a Notebook if the computer is not for you.

Budgeting with a paper and pencil
Use a notebook to budget.

I was never really good at writing in books when budgeting, but you might love it as it’s a simplified budgeting process.

I’ve also designed a simple budget that you can print and put into a budget binder where you can pencil in the information you need.

Important note:

  • Double-check your numbers since you will manually use a calculator to do the math.

If you understand Excel, you can combine a worksheet and budget or download ours for free.

If you prefer to budget using the paper and pen method, you now have three necessary steps you can work on.

Budgeting is part of a lifestyle, just as enjoying a healthy diet that keeps you energized and full of life.

Once in a while, you may fall off track, but that’s perfectly normal.

The name of the budgeting game is to stay positive and get back on track as soon as possible.

You fall into a debt trap when you give up on your financial future.

Debt is why people sink further into ruins, and relationships can fail.

You have to make sure you either;

  • Have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses
  • Save for what you need and pay CASH

Download our FREE Excel budget and lots of other Free Financial Resources.

If neither of these can occur, expect to have debt and pay it off as fast as possible.

Step 4 in designing our Budget is Note-taking and its importance.

Happy Budgeting Everyone!

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  1. One thing I am missing (not to say it isn’t here somewhere..) is how to handle receipts with multiple category purchases?
    i.e. Costco purchase of groceries, tools, household items, maintenance items etc. which usually add up to one large bill.

    1. You would manually separate the bill and add the amount to the appropriate category. Hope that helps and certainly a valid, important question to ask. Thanks.

  2. So much great budgeting advice! I am going to start tracking our spending daily. I suspect a lot of money is trickling away on coffees and other unnecessary items.

  3. Yes it is very important to get a receipt. It is amazing the number of places that I go to that don’t automatically give one. Just have to get into the habit of asking for one, otherwise it is very easy to forget. In the odd case where there are no receipts, like at a parking meter or money sent to school for trips and hot lunches, I enter it into a memo on my Ipod, that way I don’t forget. Thanks Mr. CBB for the great information.

    1. We are so used to asking for receipts and if we don’t get one we write it down somewhere right away so we don’t forget and as soon as we get home we make note of it. This is where the organization is very important it’s our future after all. Cheers

  4. Great Tips, Mr.CBB
    One of the things I need to remind myself is to track EVERYTHING, it is all the “small purchases” like Timmies coffee, or something at the dollar store that I often forget to put in my expences.
    I learned and was reminded by this to get receipts at the coffee shop.


    1. You know Kim, that was where we went WOW, look at how much it’s costing us for coffee all year, or this and that. It all adds up and once you start tracking it, then it becomes a lifestyle PLUS you want to see those numbers every month, it’s contagious but a smart way to go! IMO

  5. got a super meormy, no one can remember all of their purchases. That’s why we have budgets to help us track where our money is or where it’s going so we don’t spend more

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