All About Budgets

How We Designed Our Budget Step 4-Notetaking


If we’ve learned anything about budgets over the past years it’s that you need to learn how they work before you carry out one.

I admit we jumped into budgeting feet first without any formal training or online learning so it has been trial and error.

This tactic hasn’t been so bad but it can get frustrating for just about anyone especially if budgeting is a new world for you or perhaps the budget you are using is different from what you are accustomed to.

Learning first then proceeding step by step is what we should have done but they say we all learn from our mistakes, so here we are correcting them and sharing them with the world.

Over the past couple months we’ve learned that there were ways to simplify our budget including the addition of a notetaking section. Boy are we glad we implemented that.

Notetaking is an essential part of budgeting. Why you ask? Let’s take a look together here:


When you were in high school and the teacher taught you a subject did you take notes? Probably, right?


  • So you could take the notes home and study them to answer questions on a test and to educate yourself for further development.

Then why do you take notes when you budget?

  • Simply because you can’t rely on just your memory when doing your budget!  It’s also to educate and for further developing  knowledge of your finances.

You will and I repeat, you will forget!

If it’s been a long while since you were in school or you’ve had to take notes I’ve found this great list of tips that titled, Ten Steps to Good Note Taking to help boost your notetaking self-esteem.

They even touch on abbreviations which will help shorten your notes in your budget spreadsheet.

  • Don’t write down everything that you read or hear. Be alert and attentive to the main points.  Concentrate on the “meat” of the subjects and forget the “trimmings.”
  • Notes should consist of key words, or very short sentences. As a speaker gets side-tracked you can go back and add further information.
  • Take accurate notes.  You should usually use your own words, but try not to change the meaning. If you quote directly from the author, quote correctly and record the citation.
  • Think a minute about your material before you start making notes. Don’t take notes just to be taking notes! Take notes that will be of real value to you when you look over them later.

Notetaking with-in your budget is exactly the same as taking notes in class where you paraphrase what you learn or have to say in written form.

In this case you’d be typing your paraphrased notes for the month into a spreadsheet such as our free budget download or perhaps writing into a pen and paper type budget or phone app notes.

3 Reasons Budget Notetaking Is Crucial For Budget Success

The NOTES section in our excel budget is where you will do all of your monthly notetaking.

Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet
Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet! Download it for FREE!

Reason 1

You can make reference to certain receipts so you don’t have to refer to them a second time or can access it easily with important data that you leave yourself.

When you input data into your spreadsheet and make notes you can easily pull the receipt if/when needed.

Notetaking example;

  • February 19,2012- Wal-mart Spent $42.00 Used $4.00 coupons Paid $38.00
  • Notes: Bought vegetables, dog food,DVD-Twilight. Pd with Cash, Credit Card ( which one and who’s), Date of  receipt- You now can easily reference what you purchased or at least have an idea.
  •  We typically would put in high ticket items one’s that we could return. That way if you need to return it, open your spreadsheet and find what month of receipts you need to pull out.


It saves you LOTS of time something that most people don’t have these days.

If you fail to track this data you might have to go looking for a receipt which you have packed away in a file folder and have no idea what month to look in.

This will waste unnecessary time.

Reason 2

To track extra income or important dates that may have occurred throughout the month.

When you sit down to do your month end budget you won’t need to think back x amount of days to what may have happened.

Entering important notes such as sold items on Kijiji that net you x amount of dollars helps come budget time when you have that information documented.


If you decide not to keep up to date with important notes you run the risk of your budget not balancing or being incorrect. If you want your budget to truthfully show your financial health you must be dedicated to the notetaking task.

Reason 3

Simply to educate yourself on your spending habits and where and what you are spending it on. Keeping notes also keeps you accountable for your financial actions. Looking back also helps to see where you came from and what your current position is at.

Summarize NoteTaking

When designing our budget we felt it was imperative to have a note section to document any key notes for easy reference. This task has saved us lots of time and headache mainly because trying to remember everything in life is impossible.

Budgeting helps to control the way we view and spend our money which how we were able to become debt free in under 5 years after buying our home.

How We Designed Our Budgeting Series Step 5 : How to keep all your bills organized using 5S

This is important because if you aren’t organized it may lead to frustration and failure when budgeting. Keep an eye out for this up and coming post! If your desk looks like this it will be a MUST read for you!

If you missed the start of the Budgeting Series below are  posts 1-3 in the series.

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