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Old 03-23-2010, 12:31 PM   #21
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I didn't understand "Bank charges". What's that? No one pays any bank charges nowadays. Is that a mistake?
The occasional ATM fee, wire transfer fees, check orders, and back before I learned how to schedule automated transfers from savings to checking I had to pay the occasional $2 charge for the CU to make the transfer for me.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:31 PM   #22
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:33 PM   #23
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The occasional ATM fee, wire transfer fees, check orders, and back before I learned how to schedule automated transfers from savings to checking I had to pay the occasional $2 charge for the CU to make the transfer for me.
Those fees don't make an appearance in my categories! I do occasionally pay a few cents a month for checking account maintenance when the $1 fee isn't completely offset by interest on the float. Rounding down means it costs nothing!!
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:48 PM   #24
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I have a feeling our cash expenditures will be a rather small component of total annual spending as well. Edited to add: Since 1/1/2010, we have withdrawn $400 from ATM. $200 for vacation abroad (the "vacation" category) and $100 for gift to daughter. $100 otherwise unaccounted for, probably sitting in DW's and my wallet .

Interesting that everyone who uses quicken has many more categories versus the spreadsheeters. I guess having the process mostly automated makes it easier to get more discrete categories.

You have a category for "financial support"? Like sending money home to family overseas? I'm thinking about putting this type of expense under "gift" or "charity".
Yes, financial support is the money that I send to my mom when she needs a bit of cash. The reason why I do not lump it with gifts/charity is because I regard gifts/charity as discretionary spending (spending that can be cut in an emergency) but not financial support. I consider financial support a committed expense.

The great thing about Quicken is that it can be trained. For example, when I download my credit card transactions, it now knows that Publix goes under "groceries", Banana Republic goes under "clothing" and Starbucks goes under "dining". So I can have a lot more categories because most transactions get categorized effortlessly.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:48 PM   #25
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I just use WordPad. Every time I spend money I make an entry. I only spend money about 15 times per month so it's pretty easy. I'm sure couples, especially those with kids, would have many more entries. Here's an example of what I do:

2010 Expenses

BUDGET
-Mortgage: 400/mo
-Electric: 125/mo
-Condo Fees/ins/
maintenance: 150/mo
-Cable/internet/cell phone: 150/mo
-Car-gas/ins./maint.: 125/mo
-Groceries: 200/mo
-Entertainment/misc.: 100/mo

Total: 1250/mo

Jan. '10


1/4 Groceries: 67.00
1/6 electric bill: 217.00 217.00
1/6 cell phone: 40.00
1/6 Gas: 25.00
1/6 Groceries: 67.00
1/7 Condo fee:115.00 115.00
1/11 Mortgage: 175.00
1/12 Cable Bill: 101.00 141.00
1/16 entertainment: 23.00
1/20 Groceries:58.00 192.00
1/20 Gas: 30.00
1/20 entertainment:
1/25 Mortgage: 350.00
1/29 Gas/car: 22.00 77.00
1/29 entertainment:
1/30 entertainment: 122.00 $100+ at clubs(rare expense)
Total: $1214

Feb. '10
2/4 Groceries: 59.00
2/4 Cell Phone: 40.00
2/7 Condo Fee:115.00 115.00
2/8 Gas: 23.00
2/8 Groceries: 54.00
2/8 Mortgage:175.00
2/11 Electric:210.00 210.00
2/11 AAA Membership
Car expense:80.00
2/11 Cable: 102.00 142.00
2/13 entertainment:28.00
2/13 Groceries: 31.00
2/22 mortgage:176.00 351.00
2/23 haircut/misc:8.00
2/23 gas/car:29.00 132.00
2.26 Groceries: 50.00 194.00
2/27 enter,/misc.:19.00 55.00
Total: $1199

Mar. '10
3/4 Cell Phone: 41.00
3/4 Groceries: 36.00
3/8 Condo Fee:115.00 115.00
3/8 Gas: 24.00
3/8 Groceries: 51.00
3/8 Mortgage: 175.00
3/11 Electric: 199.00 199.00
3/11 Cable: 102.00 143.00
3/12 enter.: 33.00
3/18 Haircut/misc.:8.00 41.00
3/18 Groceries: 70.00 157.00
3/18 Gas:22.00 46.00
3/22 Mortgage: 175.00 350.00
3/
3/

Total:

The bold on the right is the total for each of my 7 categories for that month. My budget includes every thing I buy rounded up to the next dollar.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:59 PM   #26
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I just use WordPad. Every time I spend money I make an entry. I only spend money about 15 times per month so it's pretty easy. I'm sure couples, especially those with kids, would have many more entries. Here's an example of what I do:
Simple, easy. 7 categories. I like it. Yes, we have a lot more than 15 transactions unfortunately. Maybe 60 a month if I had to guess. Lots are rather small dining out charges or a couple bucks for a gadget or thing off the internet.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:01 PM   #27
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Yes, financial support is the money that I send to my mom when she needs a bit of cash. The reason why I do not lump it with gifts/charity is because I regard gifts/charity as discretionary spending (spending that can be cut in an emergency) but not financial support. I consider financial support a committed expense.
That approach makes sense. We are occasionally asked to "donate" money to help out relatives back in their home country or in the 3rd world area known as Long Beach, California. Usually small-ish amounts though.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:11 PM   #28
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Simple, easy. 7 categories. I like it. Yes, we have a lot more than 15 transactions unfortunately. Maybe 60 a month if I had to guess. Lots are rather small dining out charges or a couple bucks for a gadget or thing off the internet.
Well, with that few transactions it's pretty simple then. You don't need quicken, and you could probably get away the the WordPad method as well. A spreadsheet would be a bit more exacting though.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:41 PM   #29
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Maybe I'm the only DW doing this and trying to get my DH to contribute....for the same reason you are, to make sure we're on target for retirement spending.

I use a spreadsheet, similar categories to Fuego's but I lump all utilities; I break out insurance by category; our kids are in college or out of the house, so one "kids" category covers what we spend on them except for college tuition (a lot). "Personal' is our allowance category, and I started breaking out "alcohol" just so it doesn't get lost in the grocery budget. I want DH to see that wine can be a significant cost and isn't just me buying too much produce that goes bad.

I leave Excel open on my laptop, and enter amounts when I spend them. I check off the receipt so I know it's been entered. That seems easier than a once-a-month accounting. If I spend cash, I enter it into the proper category that night.

Costco is the tough one; I go through the receipt and do a rough categorization. We buy a lot of food there, but also towels, underwear, gift cards, garden stuff, etc.

We just took a weekend trip and bought some wine at a winery. I decided it was "alcohol" and not "travel." The lunch, dinner and museum fees however went into the "travel" category.

I used to do this on my Palm, but I have the laptop with me most of the time anyway and it's been easy to do. I have a worksheet for each month of the year and enter the numbers which then sum automatically.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:49 PM   #30
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letting me know where the money that drips from the bottomless hole in her purse actually goes. Keeping track of every penny is not very important, but keeping track of every $5 or $10 is important over the course of a year.
I am late to this (thank goodness) so I don't have to tell you there are many ways to "skin this cat." I have kept track of every penny we have spent in the past 35 years -- so I do have some experience at it, however. (As I have related in other threads along these lines.)

I will, nonetheless, add a few words of advice:

Don't put unneccesary pressure on the other person -- "bottomless hole" my foot. In order for this exercise to work, everyone has to be 100% on board.

An old business adege: (I tried looking for the exact quote but... ) "It is the pennies that count; they add up to dollars." (Sort of the poorman's version of "A million here, a million there and pretty soon it adds up to real money." It is the pennies that will trick you into thinking everything is all peachy -- mainly because it gives permission to cheat.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:57 PM   #31
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Don't put unneccesary pressure on the other person -- "bottomless hole" my foot. In order for this exercise to work, everyone has to be 100% on board.

An old business adege: (I tried looking for the exact quote but... ) "It is the pennies that count; they add up to dollars." (Sort of the poorman's version of "A million here, a million there and pretty soon it adds up to real money." It is the pennies that will trick you into thinking everything is all peachy -- mainly because it gives permission to cheat.
I'll be happy if DW is 99% on board and lets me know where the big cash transactions go. If she leaks out a buck or two here and there on coffee or breakfast or lunch at the company cafe, then I'll capture it in "cash". Those expenditures are ok with me and are just a cost of working as far as we are concerned. They really are very tiny. Well over half our income gets saved and invested, so a couple bucks here and there are basically rounding errors in the grand scheme of things.

This may sound overly possessive and controlling of me, but DW almost always asks me for cash instead of going to the ATM (that is directly on her way home to/from work and a block from our house). More of a laziness thing for her than anything though. When I say it like that, I really am a walking ATM to her. I just hope my daughters don't figure out how this works.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:07 PM   #32
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... but DW almost always asks me for cash instead of going to the ATM (that is directly on her way home to/from work and a block from our house). More of a laziness thing for her than anything though. When I say it like that, I really am a walking ATM to her. I just hope my daughters don't figure out how this works.
You are not alone in the club. I frequently comment that it is against my wife's religion to use an ATM.

I never had any problem with her spending money, she's generally quite frugal, but the last second need for cash (that necessitated me going to an ATM) was a PITA.

Asking her to use the rewards credit card has cured about 90% of that. There are a lot of $5 and $10 charges here and there, but she doesn't spend any more money than she did before and I get points for all the purchases. And all of those transactions get downloaded so I don't have to keep track of cash receipts. It's a win-win.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:18 PM   #33
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Careful, once you get in the habit of keeping track you might not be able to stop. I've been doing this for decades and it is great to know exactly where mymoney is going.

One of the programs is easy to set up and easy to track. I'm using Moneydance now.

Cash- this is the hardest thing to get tracked. I would try to get in the habit of always asking for a receipt for everything. If that doesn't work, track the amount of cash you have at periodic intervals so you get a sense of how much you and how fast. It is a really good exercise to track every penny for couple months. It can be an eye opener.

Your categories look fine. You can always refine later if you want more detailed data.

My method is to collect receipts for everything, enter in my categories which means divvy up the items accordingly. But your broadbrush approach gets you part way. The trouble I have with those stores is they sell so much stuff in other categories. Then when the bill comes in, I reconcile my data for it against the bill.

The trick for data entry is to do it often so the chore is small.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:27 PM   #34
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Careful, once you get in the habit of keeping track you might not be able to stop. I've been doing this for decades and it is great to know exactly where mymoney is going.
......
The trick for data entry is to do it often so the chore is small.
I agree - we started "keeping track" about 5 years ago. I don't have a "cash" category; I track everything when I spend it. One thing I do is get a receipt for everything and always put it in my wallet. I then I record the spending items every so often when I clean out my wallet. I do have a "misc" category that I use sparingly (getting stamps at the post office, other things that don't seem to belong in any category).

I do love to have the records of what we spent. I know exactly how much we spend on things so when it comes to retirement planning, it'll be pretty easy to know what we need to budget for. Having the records also lets me answer the question, "when did we buy this <thing>?"
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:28 PM   #35
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I am probably a little (a lot?) odd, but every month when I receive my bank statement I am really excited. Why? Because I am just dying to type in the stuff and see how much I spent in the previous month.

For some reason I get a huge charge out of this. Perhaps my Scottish heritage?
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:50 PM   #36
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I don't expect the "copy and paste" idea will work as well as downloading to Quicken or some other application. This goes for you too, W2R. "Type in"? As my daughter would say "What is this 'type in' you speak of?"

I hate Quicken, but it knows that Safeway purchases are groceries, and Chevron purchases are gasoline, and it saves me a lot of work.

Here's one way to handle cash. Go count up all the cash you have in wallets, purses, safes, etc. That's the balance in your "Cash Account." Enter that in as the starting balance.

Whenever you make an ATM withdrawal or receive cash, add it to the Cash Account. Whenever you pay for something with a significant amount of cash, record the transaction as a deduction from the Cash Account.

Periodically repeat the procedure of counting up your cash, and compare that total with the total of the Cash Account. It won't match. If you can think of any major transactions you didn't include, enter those. Otherwise, make an entry for "Miscellaneous Cash Expenditures."

For example, at the end of March you show $520 in your Cash Account, and you only have $200 around the house. You remember that you bought a pet rock on Craigslist for $20, so you enter that, and you enter an amount of $300 for Miscellaneous Cash Expenditures.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:12 PM   #37
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I don't expect the "copy and paste" idea will work as well as downloading to Quicken or some other application. This goes for you too, W2R. "Type in"? As my daughter would say "What is this 'type in' you speak of?"

I hate Quicken, but it knows that Safeway purchases are groceries, and Chevron purchases are gasoline, and it saves me a lot of work.
That may be true, but I still like spending 5-10 minutes/month typing my expenditures into Excel. (Well, Open Office's equivalent spreadsheet). Why? I have NO idea. Maybe the idea of giving in and finally buying Quicken engenders some control issues for me? Or maybe I am just old fashioned.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:13 PM   #38
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I am probably a little (a lot?) odd, but every month when I receive my bank statement I am really excited. Why? Because I am just dying to type in the stuff and see how much I spent in the previous month.
Does that mean you don't track purchases made with cash. All of that eating out in New Orleans can't be cheap. Make sure you're including that if you want an accurate account of your spending. I'm sure you do that but you didn't mention it so i'm just making sure.

Also, you only see you bank statement once a month? Don't you have online banking. I look at my account at least a couple times a week.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:17 PM   #39
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Maybe the idea of giving in and finally buying Quicken engenders some control issues for me?
Maybe I take being frugal a little too far sometimes but I can't justify tracking my spending by buying something(Quicken) that I don't need. I can do the same thing for free with WordPad... so I do.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:19 PM   #40
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Does that mean you don't track purchases made with cash. All of that eating out in New Orleans can't be cheap. Make sure you're including that if you want an accurate account of your spending. I'm sure you do that but you didn't mention it so i'm just making sure.

Also, you only see you bank statement once a month? Don't you have online banking. I look at my account at least a couple times a week.
I tracked my cash purchases specifically (including which restaurants, how much was spent, and so on) in December out of curiousity. Now, I just track "cash" and if it is just $400-$500 I don't worry about it. If it goes up to $600, then I make sure it is less the following month.

I do online banking and I check it every morning to see how I am doing, but for adding up my expenditures I wait for the paper statement. It goes from the 23rd of one month through the 22nd of the next so those are the dates of my "expenditure month". So, when I say that in July I spent $xxx.xx on electricity, that would be from the 23rd of July through the 22nd of August. I realize this is a logical disconnect and probably sometime I should fix that. If I got my expenditures from the online record some might slop into the wrong "expenditure month" in comparison with my paper statements. Or at least, that is my thinking...
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