Budgeting v. Spending Tracker

This is more a question rather than a financial tip. I actually wanted to ask you all here, if you have any tips or budgeting/spending format that you have been following — and if yes, please do share! Even if you don’t have any, feel free to let me know why. Maybe, unconsciously, you have certain system that works.

So! Yeah, I guess it goes without saying that financial management is something that we learnt — and actually need to learn — since young age. Pocket money or maybe salary from part-time/summer break gigs; we learned how to ensure we don’t overspent. And when we did (stress eating and stress buying is real yo,) we can make sure that it’s still within manageable level.

I’ve been using spending tracker for years. I’m using Money Lover app on my phone to track my spending and… As much as I love and appreciate the app, I really am too lazy to track each transaction every single day!

I guess it goes down with the pros and cons of daily spending tracker:


You are handling your financials in detailed manners. You know where goes which and which goes where.


You need an immaculate set of discipline, something that I clearly lack of. And if are not super careful, you can go overboard with your spendings and overspend.

Now, I’m interested with budgeting. So I’m planning — well, I already planned — some “posts” for each costs/spendings. For some spendings that usually go into variable cost (constantly changing — for example, electricity bill. Quite contrary with Indonesia, we still have post-payment method (you got billed based on your consumption — whereas in Indonesia, you can purchase “electricity tokens/credits” with certain amount of fee. It’s to avoid overcharging issues) by the electricity company) I “force” it to be fixed cost. I’m checking the average billings and set certain amount of money that I will pay monthly. So far, I always have extra fees on my account, which helped alleviating the billings.

Of course, this kind of thing — forcing variable costs to turn into fixed cost — comes as I have privileges and means to do that.

It’s pretty eye-opening to see the amounts and the priorities. What I like about budget method is, you started to think how to save more or reduce the cost. I feel this will be super useful if you have future planning and you are foreseeing the possible costs.

Budget method calls for envelope method. So you use literal envelope and put the allocated money inside each envelope. You took it out for every spending that you have, and if the envelope is empty, then you stop.

Now, since we are using cashless method more frequently — and due to the pandemic, it’s encouraged to use cashless method to reduce contact — I’m currently thinking what kind of “envelope” method I can use. Money Lover app has this feature where you can create “wallets” on your account, and it looks neat to use it as envelope. I also planning to cross-check it with my spreadsheet.


You can get bird-eye view of your expenses and your priorities. In some cases, it can even be a wake-up call to save more.


If not done properly, it might lead to overspending — which beats the initial goal of budgeting. And on some cases, it can be really depressing. You need to look at your incomes, your expenses, and your cashflow. Some folks are fortunate enough to see how to get by. For some, it might be quite hard to do so.

Sooooo… What I’m thinking is, maybe I can combine those two (?) Every month, I create the monthly budget. Then, for specific “envelope”, I’m using spending tracker 🤔 I’m thinking I can use spending tracker on my personal expenses since that can easily goes overboard.

I honestly don’t know how this (managing one’s budget) will work with some of us in sandwich generations. I have been hearing personal stories where it’s really really hard for my generations to have savings since they need to take care their family and they need to take care of their parents. There are also economical issues, workforce issues, and many external factors that makes people really reluctant to look at their financial conditions. Some folks even living paycheck to paycheck, and having savings is considered a luxury.

How about you? Do you have specific methods on handling your budget? Feel free to share!

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8 responses to “Budgeting v. Spending Tracker”

  1. Natalia Turangan Avatar

    Been struggling with this too since forever. I was a long time user of Money Lover, but somehow lost the track and stopped using it 2-3 years ago.

    Then I just got know about kakeibo method several weeks ago, it’s quite basic in budgeting, and tracking spendings done in weekly basis (weekly spreadsheet, and manually written). I didn’t buy the book, just figuring it out through googling articles and images. Is it working? Uh, because I’ve been having this inner struggle here and there, I can’t even yet properly tracking weekly spending (haven’t written my last week’s expenses), so I can’t say for sure. But perhaps knowing this kakeibo method helps a little to ease my painful process to be back tracking expenses properly.

    Hope this rants help a bit..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nindya Avatar

      Thank you, Nat! ✨ Kakeibo method sounds interesting. I’m going to check it later. Thanks again!


  2. Jordesign Avatar

    We’ve been using You Need a Budget (http://ynab.com/) for about 7 months now. Our first attempt at budgeting after almost 15 years of not. It’s essentially a ‘virtual’ envelope system where you assign your money to different categories at the start of the month – and then track your spending into them.

    It took some getting used to – especially trying to ‘guess’ your spending for certain categories – and also getting used to tracking EVERYTHING. But having it be a virtual system works much better with electronic payments.

    But we LOVE it – here’s a couple of brain-explosion realisations we have had…

    * Whilst tracking all your spending is hard – it’s also really eye-opening and forces you to make decisions.

    * YNAB lets you break regular non-monthly payments (for us things like Electricity, car insurance) into monthly payments so you accumulate them. No more MASSIVE bills to pay at certain times of the year, because we’ve been putting money aside.

    * Even better – For variable quarterly costs like Electricity we put aside a set amount (on the conservative side of usage). On a couple of occasions, we’ve got our bill – and it is significantly less than what we’ve put aside. IT”S LIKE FREE MONEY!!!

    * Despite tracking everything – we’ve found it gives us extra flexibility. Spend too much on coffee this month? Move a little over from the ‘eating out’ envelope instead. So over-spending isn’t outright bad – it just effects what you spend on other things.

    * C and I both get an ‘allowance’ each month of no-questions-asked fun money. It’s not much but it builds up over time, and it’s nice having an amount you can spend on plants guilt-free (knowing it’s not taking money out of the budget for something important).

    I’m happy to spout about YNAB more if you’re interested 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nindya Avatar

      This is awesome, Jordan! Thank you so much for sharing this! ✨


  3. Chaitanya Avatar

    In 2010 I started with Track Every Coin – http://www.trackeverycoin.com but this service stagnated and eventually died.

    I then switched to this Google budgeting template which is works quite well for me: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1p-iNynJDAirDpEpRLqbVo4QqFNmcNcCHnVvVaDEYq0U/edit?usp=sharing

    I like YNAB principles but I have not yet convinced myself to pay for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nindya Avatar

      The spreadsheet looks nice! TIL about it! Thanks, Chait 😀 It’s really helpful


  4. asudomo Avatar

    Same here. I was using expenses tracker (money lover) but I often missed to input my expenses. I think expenses tracker good tool to know how much we should budget for certain post of expenses. Once we know the data we can start budgeting either with real envelopes or digital envelopes. Nice insight 👍🏻


  5. stedfastadvisory Avatar

    Spending tracker is a useful tool to tell one where your money went. Money spent, is money gone. In other words, you can’t get it back.

    A budget gives an overall view / projection of what’s coming in and what’s going out in a given period, normally one year. Is a budget important? Yes, it is. And every business has a budget. Whey then do many still went bankrupt?

    Is there something else other than a budget and a spending tracker? Yes, there is. And this is the most important thing for every business and individuals. It is call managing cashflow – the ability to meet payments when it is due.

    I have a budgeting and cashflow spreadsheet that comes with the book I authored and published. The spreadsheet is in excel, so there is no fee other than the cost of the book. The only other cost is your discipline.

    Feel free to write to me if you have any questions.

    Liked by 1 person

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