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Old 01-04-2010, 09:33 PM   #21
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I am looking to replace MS Money due to its discontinuation. I only use its Portfolio Manager feature to "mark to market" my stocks and MF positions (my wife tracks all expenses and billings with her own system).

The program has been popping up messages seducing me to switch to Quicken. But T-Al is upset with it, and wants something else.

Just now, looking at the link Gotadimple provided, its chart says that Quicken does not have Portfolio Manager.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:59 PM   #22
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I've never tracked expenses with the detail many of you do. I save that effort for the income and portfolio performance side of things. But I'd like to try it for 2010.

I started to put together an Excel sheet with the usual categories, but I'm curious, is there a simple, free program for tracking expenses (only) that is available as a download? Or an Excel template?

Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:09 AM   #23
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I believe this author was once a poster to these forums.
And still browses the headlines from time to time ...
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:04 AM   #24
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I maybe crazy but I'm reasonably comfortable having my financial records in the cloud (assuming decent security encryption). My primary accounts are in Schwab and Vanguard, I have lots of stock transactions buying, selling, option writing, dividends, weird spins offs. I liked to take the money directly from Schwab and Vanguard and important into a quicken like program. But after using Quicken several time for upto 6 months I know I just won't use it. Are there decent web-based alternatives to quicken?
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:51 AM   #25
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Youbet- I use a very basic excel spreadsheet I loaded off the internet. Tracks way more expenses than I can be bothered to use, although with the new year I might try it again. Just put "excel spreadsheet personal finance" into google....you might want to add "free" to that, but a number of places show up.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:47 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I am looking to replace MS Money due to its discontinuation. I only use its Portfolio Manager feature to "mark to market" my stocks and MF positions (my wife tracks all expenses and billings with her own system).

The program has been popping up messages seducing me to switch to Quicken. But T-Al is upset with it, and wants something else.

Just now, looking at the link Gotadimple provided, its chart says that Quicken does not have Portfolio Manager.
That's correct, the basic version of Quicken doesn't have Portfolio Manager, but it's available in the Premier version (or whatever they call the $60 one).

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Old 01-05-2010, 01:35 PM   #27
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I used to use Quicken to handle all my tasks (checkbook balancing, portfolio tracking, net worth totals, etc.). But after finding that I spent too much time getting Quicken to do everything for me, I decided it was better to not use it anymore and meet my tasks in different ways. I do most of my investing with Vanguard, so I just wait for their quarterly and annual statements. From these statements, I enter those totals and the totals from a few investments outside of Vanguard in a spreadsheet. From the spreadsheet, I tally my asset allocations and such. To replace the budgeting I used to do with Quicken, I use a simple budeting program. To balance my checkbook, I use the old fashion print out my bank statement, and use a pencil and calculator. I know my method isn't the prettiest, but it gets the job done for me.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:55 PM   #28
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From these statements, I enter those totals and the totals from a few investments outside of Vanguard in a spreadsheet. From the spreadsheet, I tally my asset allocations and such.
But Vanguard will do all of this for you. You can enter your outside investments on the Vanguard web site.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:04 PM   #29
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That is good to know. thx. I haven't used that part much of Vanguard online. For the outside investments, would it allow for entering things like US Savings bonds totals? I have some of these from when I used to w*rk. That's some of the stuff I include on the spreadsheet.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:51 PM   #30
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I've never tracked expenses with the detail many of you do. I save that effort for the income and portfolio performance side of things. But I'd like to try it for 2010.
Please let us know how that works for you. I'm in a similar boat - I don't track expenses at the detail level of many here. It seems like an important thing to do, but I wonder what I would gain from it?

I don't over spend, as I only have so much $ transferred into my checking account each month. My 'cushion' never runs down w/o me knowing ahead of time that I have some big expenses (remodeling, repairs, etc) were hitting it. And like most LBYMers, I look for value in what I buy. So what exactly would I learn if I broke out (for example) the gasoline bills from my CC statements? I drive cars with pretty good mpg, combine trips, etc. I just don't see where knowing it would change my behavior.

OK, another example - dining out, or entertainment. I don't add it up, but I would not want to cut back, because we enjoy whatever amount we do (which doesn't seem like all that much). Or "honey, do you realize how much milk we buy each month?"? I do watch utility bills and car mpg just as an early warning of maintenance or problems.

I guess what I'm saying is, I just can't imagine that after I detailed out a budget, that I would suddenly learn that "Oh wow! I spend $X on such-and-such, so I'm gonna cut way back on that!"? I'm pretty sure I do that with *every* purchase. I do look at big budget, easily identifiable items, was kinda surprised when I added up all the various insurance costs for the year (cars, house, umbrella) - but I'm not going to drop any of those.

To put it another way - for those who do keep detailed budgets, what positives came from it?

-ERD50
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:42 AM   #31
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To put it another way - for those who do keep detailed budgets, what positives came from it?
Here are some examples:

"Oh, wow, I've been trying to cut back on X, but I see now that that only saves me an insignificant amount, so I'll stop cutting back on that."

Or "I've been spending X per year on college expenses, so next year when DD has graduated, I'll need less and can lower my equity exposure."

I spent $10,000 more last year, but I see that it was only because of the unexpected medical procedure.

We love eating out, but I didn't realize how much we are spending on it. I'd rather cut back, and spend that money on cable TV.

Why am I wasting my time washing baggies, when health insurance premiums are my main expense?
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:25 AM   #32
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Similar to what TromboneAl said, one big advantage is that having a detailed budget allows one to make choices and prioritize what buget categories we put our money towards. Also, to see the spending trends. Without a budget, there's no way for sure to know how much we spent on what.

For example, do I want to dine out every month or buy that new TV I've been thinking of? Since I can't do both.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:56 AM   #33
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Thanks for the replies, a few comments...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Here are some examples:

"Oh, wow, I've been trying to cut back on X, but I see now that that only saves me an insignificant amount, so I'll stop cutting back on that."
OK, kind of the opposite way to look at it from the normal view, but just as valuable. I guess I tend to look at this on a case by case basis - when I find myself fretting or taking action on something, I'll calculate the cost of that item that I was wondering about. For example, a bunch of outside lights (mostly CFLs) on a timer - ends up less than $2/month. Move on.



Quote:
I spent $10,000 more last year, but I see that it was only because of the unexpected medical procedure.

We love eating out, but I didn't realize how much we are spending on it. I'd rather cut back, and spend that money on cable TV.
I do track (or at least see) my total cash flow. So if I see that my check account buffer is dwindling, it would cause me to look into it.

Quote:
Why am I wasting my time washing baggies, when health insurance premiums are my main expense?
Similar to above, but an important distinction. If I have taken steps to get the best value from my Health Insurance (or any big ticket item), then there is nothing more to do there. But if washing baggies (or other small cost savings) actually provides a savings, then it helps (in a small way). This actually relates to one of those (ahhh, can't think of the proper name) economic conundrums that people face. A $10 savings is a $10 savings. It makes no difference if it was a $10 savings on a $20 expenditure or a $5,000 expenditure. At the end of the year, there is an extra $10 in your pocket.


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For example, do I want to dine out every month or buy that new TV I've been thinking of, since I can't do both and max out every other category?
Yes, and this seems to be met by my being aware of my total cash flow.

So, I guess it comes down to is:

A) Monitoring at a high level overview (monthly cash flow), and jumping on "problem areas", along with some occasional "auditing" of specific expenditures

versus

B) Monitoring everything all the time?

I'll make a car analogy - would I want to continuously see every sensor reading that goes into my cars computer, or just respond when the "Check Engine" light comes on? Along with regular check ups to monitor key systems?

Different strokes for different folks an all, I'm just not getting the motivation to dig into the nitty-gritty like some do. Maybe because if I did, I would think I would need to take it all the way to really get any value out of it. A $300 bill at Costco tells me nothing - I'd need to break that receipt down to food, occasional clothing, tools, (where do you put things like Toilet Paper?), cleaning supplies, liquor, entertainment, whew..... At that point, I don't think I could see the forest for the trees?

-ERD50
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:20 PM   #34
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A couple of more thoughts...I keep track and do the analysis out of necessity since FIRE'd and not for fun (though, the exercise is enlightening). I remember, while I was still working, not on a budget I bought a whole new furniture set. But at that time, since I had a salary coming in, my mindset was, "no biggy, my paycheck would pay for the furniture". Since that isn't the case anymore, the tracking and bugeting keeps myself honest that when I spend goes to what I prioritize to spend on. Not as sponatneous as the furniture purchase, but that is a well-worth trade off in my mind to enjoy being retired.

About the breakdown of receipts. For me, yes, I do break that down if I go to the store and buy several things. In the case of toliet paper though, for me I count that as "Groceries and Supplies" and lump those together. On the otherhand, if while shopping, for example, if I happened to pick up a gift card, or bought OTC cough medicine, on my budget I would separate them as "Gift" and "OTC medicine". I do fudge a little and do some rounding -- I won't drive myself nuts recalculating taxes for each item, for example.

I guess in a nutshell, for me the tracking keeps me honest and is the roadmap on my spending to make sure I'm on course. Yeah, it can tedious sometimes, but I'd much rather be at home tracking my spending than in a conference room thinking "and why am I in this conference call?"
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:40 PM   #35
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A couple of more thoughts...I keep track and do the analysis out of necessity since FIRE'd and not for fun (though, the exercise is enlightening). I remember, while I was still working, not on a budget I bought a whole new furniture set. But at that time, since I had a salary coming in, my mindset was, "no biggy, my paycheck would pay for the furniture". Since that isn't the case anymore, ...
I guess that is why it works (more or less) for me - I get a "pseudo-paycheck" each month. I have an automatic transfer from my taxable investment account to my checking account each month. Since I anticipated similar costs pre/post-retirement, I set the amount about equal to my take-home pay. That seemed to be all the "budgeting" I needed when I worked, and it seems to be working for me in retirement. I only said "more or less" earlier, as I am am still trying to figure if the detailed level budget would improve things for me or not.



Quote:
Yeah, it can tedious sometimes, but I'd much rather be at home tracking my spending than in a conference room thinking "and why am I in this conference call?"
No argument there! Well, other than sometimes you can catch a nap during a conference call (BTDT!) . But at this point, the choice isn't between the conf call and a spreadsheet, I have better options (If I haven't said it in a while - it is GREAT to be retired!!!)

-ERD50
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:05 PM   #36
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I finally read the MS Money info about ending of support.

Looks like the only thing that I use that will be impacted is automatic background data importing from banks.

No biggie there, the program will continue to import data that you import directly from the bank webpage. The banks will likely stop supporting the MS Money file type, but as I remember Money can import comma delimited files.

So this gives a bit of time before acting or learning another program, if indeed that ever becomes necessary.

Ha
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:26 PM   #37
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Note also that if your application works well, there's very little additional effort in tracking everything. That is, once you tell it that Denny's is a restaurant, and Chevron sells gas, things are pretty automatic.
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:27 AM   #38
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Please let us know how that works for you................. To put it another way - for those who do keep detailed budgets, what positives came from it?

-ERD50
I'm not expecting any big money saving breakthroughs. My current "view from 10,000 ft" keeps me well aware of the bulk of our expenditures.

All our income sources are laundered through our joint checking account. My SS and DW's pension are direct deposited. An occasional check written on the RE portfolio MM acct supplements those. So the info is there in the check register if I want to do a deep dive. Of course the biggest check every month is to Visa. But my Visa provider has nice tools for sorting expenses on their web site. Cash is another issue. We do go through 3 or 4 hundred bux a month but I think we have a reasonable understanding where that is going.

Still, despite the anticipated aggravation of pulling out a little notebook and recording the three Guinness I just enjoyed at the pub, I'm curious to try detailed tracking for a year. Maybe I'm just enjoying myself too much and want some added menial chore to tone down the fun?
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:06 AM   #39
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To put it another way - for those who do keep detailed budgets, what positives came from it?
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It helps DW limit her spending when she sees red
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:54 AM   #40
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But Vanguard will do all of this for you. You can enter your outside investments on the Vanguard web site.

TAl.... from what I can see, the Vanguard sites does NOT use your outside investments when it calculates investment returns...
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