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Old 02-01-2016, 05:46 PM   #61
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I use excel and copy/paste from my credit card which we use for almost every thing to get the points back, and then also my debit card. I then assign a category and use pivot tables to tie to my budget or I can pivot by month. We have always taken a weekly allowance of 100 bucks each, and I don't track where that went, it's just allowance. I can do pro formas to project annual expenses, and also charts. Which I then show to hub, and he could care less. He just wants to know how much is left.

He does a Friday morning report on investments which has become a coffee drinking tradition.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:58 PM   #62
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I keep track of my expenses in broad categories and those most easily quantifiable. For example, checks that I write (or if I use ACH or another automatic, electronic payment scheme) can be allocated into a specific category or categories. My monthly co-op maintenance check includes itemized amounts for property taxes, mortgage interest, and parking fees, for example. Utilities such as cable TV, phone, and electric are also separate but I have been lumping together phone plus internet because they are billed together.


Income taxes are now paid by estimated payments or in April. Auto and home insurance are paid separately. I lump together all medical and dental costs such as premiums, copays, and deductibles.


Some expenses have to be separated from bills which include other expenses. Those include car repairs and maintenance bills because they are paid via credit card along with other expenses. I don't use my CC very often although more in the last few years than I used to because I pay for most of my groceries with a CC. I don't separate out my cash expenses unless they happen to fall into a specific category I keep track of. This was the case when I was working and had to put all of my commutation costs together.


I ended up with about 25 categories in my spreadsheet although some of them disappeared over time and others appeared more recently. I don't sweat the small stuff for the most part. The only time I did sweat some of the small stuff was when I stopped working in 2008 and had to assemble an ER budget based on my then-working spending patterns. Then, I tried to figure out items such as money spent on lunches at work.


It has all worked out just fine.
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Old 02-02-2016, 08:41 AM   #63
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I have used Quicken for 10 years, importing credit cards, brokerage and banking accounts. I try to charge everything on the cards to ease tracking, I pay it off every month. Amazon is the toughest, I buy alot there and its time consuming to break it up into the categories since amazon often breaks up orders and ships and charges an order a different times.

Quicken is great because you can do alot of different reports to examine spending in different ways, and investment accounts and lots of budget views.

Only problems I have are 1. when I have subcategories, a few of the subs come out as main categories in reports, very annoying. 2. it keeps trying to suggest long closed and deactivated accounts when transfering or paying money.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:46 PM   #64
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I'm surprised more people don't use Mint.com. With mint I can track my expenses and net worth on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. I've tried Quicken a number of times and just found that it required too much manual entry and downloading of files, etc.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:59 PM   #65
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If you search for other threads, some concerns about the security and privacy of services like Mint is discussed.
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Old 02-06-2016, 07:15 AM   #66
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I've gone thru 3 distinct budgeting phases, each centered on spending my time where is matters:

1). Cash Flow Stage

Right after college, deep in debt...sat down beginning of each month and budgeted to the dollar everything coming in and every expense that would go out the door. Money left at the bottom was for beer. Usually about $20. I would watch every dollar that went out each month, to the dollar, as it went out.

2). Savings stage

I would budget monthly using "pay-myself-first" savings as the first line item and then figuring what we needed/could spend by category. Would pull credit card reports into MS Money each month and cross check with the the spouse how we were doing on spending by category. That went on for 15 years or so.

3). Wealth Building Stage (now)

I find my time is better spent worrying about asset management, taxes, and multi-year investment planning. I have budget categories that carry year-to-year and don't change much. In December I pull down the last 12 months from credit cards and pull cash withdrawals from bank statements to sanity check that the categories haven't gotten out of whack or our behavior gotten too soft. I then use these as top down budget guidance for the following year as I build our financial/investing plan.

But then I turn my attention back to investing and assume that our behaviors will keep expenses in line thru the next year. Whether we spend $50 or $75 per month on Cheetos and beer is now far less relevant than ensuring I manage our deferred comp and investing rhythm properly.
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Old 02-06-2016, 08:52 AM   #67
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We started keeping track of every penny over 16 years ago when we attended a series of seminars related to "Your Money Or Your Life." The book was written by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

As noted on this thread there are lots of tools to keep track of expenses. The most important think to do is the actual act of doing it. I've seen lots of people utilize smart phone apps, spreadsheets and other software but you have to find a method that allows you to record every expense - whether it's a check, a credit or debit card, cash, etc.

For me and DW that means we each use a small spiral bound book - small enough that it fits in a shirt pocket - and we write down everything. And I do mean everything.

Do this for a few weeks and you'll begin to see which categories make sense for you. As some said, less than 10 categories works for them. For others, dozens of categories works. Don't get hung up on the categories at first, just record the expenses.

Our method of using the spiral bound notebooks works for us. From there I put the information into Quicken. A friend uses a smart phone app and it works great for him.

Here's a picture of over 16 years of data for two people - old school I know. Use an app if that's better for you but you have to record every penny IMO.
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File Type: jpg IMG_5340_small.jpg (503.4 KB, 15 views)
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:23 AM   #68
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I certainly don't want to enter every transaction manually. We keep our checking and expense accounts at wells fargo, and they have a money map function that tracks everything that goes in and out of expense accounts. I use bill pay there, too so everything goes through there. It even categorizes the expenses pretty well. It tracks our average expenses over 6 and 12 months. That's all we really need to know.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:44 AM   #69
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I certainly don't want to enter every transaction manually. We keep our checking and expense accounts at wells fargo, and they have a money map function that tracks everything that goes in and out of expense accounts. I use bill pay there, too so everything goes through there. It even categorizes the expenses pretty well. It tracks our average expenses over 6 and 12 months. That's all we really need to know.
I understand that and this method is not for everyone. A smart phone app works reasonably well too and there are a variety of other methods.

The single biggest reason we use the spiral notebooks (and I've also used Pocket Quicken until that product was discontinued) is to record every single expense as quickly as you can after it occurs. The act of writing the expense down immediately, or perhaps at the end of every day, provides a tactile feedback about where your money is going.

I don't want to go on too much of a tangent but the ideas in YMOYL (mentioned in previous post) are to achieve a Zen-like connection between you are your money. You spend life-energy making money, or investing, etc. Spending money, and knowing immediately what you spend it on, provides loads of feedback. Regardless of what method is used I highly recommend using a method that incorporates immediate or near immediate feedback. Looking at expenses once a month doesn't provide the same sense of where your money goes.
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:02 PM   #70
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You spend life-energy making money, or investing, etc. Spending money, and knowing immediately what you spend it on, provides loads of feedback. Regardless of what method is used I highly recommend using a method that incorporates immediate or near immediate feedback. Looking at expenses once a month doesn't provide the same sense of where your money goes.
+1
It's almost too easy with debit/credit cards to lose that connection with the intrinsic value of a dollar. Good point, and it wouldn't be a bad exercise every once in a while to track our every expenditure for 30 days in a notebook. Would give us a sort of reminder just how fast it can slip out of our electronic wallet.
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:25 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
As noted on this thread there are lots of tools to keep track of expenses. The most important think to do is the actual act of doing it. I've seen lots of people utilize smart phone apps, spreadsheets and other software but you have to find a method that allows you to record every expense - whether it's a check, a credit or debit card, cash, etc.

For me and DW that means we each use a small spiral bound book - small enough that it fits in a shirt pocket - and we write down everything. And I do mean everything.
I could never be disciplined enough to keep a notebook and pencil with me constantly and write every expense into it immediately, as you do. It could be socially awkward. However, like you, I do record everything. My strategy is to reduce effort by automation, as follows:
(a) put all my utilities and regular payments on automatic debit
(b) charge everything possible to one credit card (I now use fewer than 10 cheques per year)
(c) collect all receipts and transfer them at the end of each day to a Ziploc bag labeled "current month spending"
(d) document any unreceipted cash transactions (1-3 per month) on a Post it note in the Ziploc bag.
(e) check my current and credit card accounts online every 1-2 days

(f) download data from current and credit card accounts to Excel expense spreadsheet at the end of each month. Spreadsheet is preloaded with regular recurring payments, e.g. Strata fees. Reconcile with the contents of the Ziploc bag. Shred all receipts unless needed for warranties or tax returns.
(g) repeat.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:41 PM   #72
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(c) collect all receipts and transfer them at the end of each day to a Ziploc bag labeled "current month spending"
(d) document any unreceipted cash transactions (1-3 per month) on a Post it note in the Ziploc bag. [B]
(f) download data from current and credit card accounts to Excel expense spreadsheet at the end of each month. Reconcile with the contents of the Ziploc bag. Shred all receipts unless needed for warranties or tax returns.
I automate things even a bit more. I use Moneydance on my computer for all financial stuff. It also has an app for my iPhone that syncs via Dropbox. When I'm out and about, I can take just a few seconds to enter a purchase in the phone app (and even take a picture of the receipt if I like). When I get home, it has already been entered into my Moneydance file.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:27 PM   #73
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I only track in detail a few variable categories - household, groceries, entertainment and restaurants in an Excel spreadsheet by month. Everything else is either fixed or in the "it is what it is" category. Expenses like vet bills and car repairs I put an annual amount in the budget and I don't worry if we spend more or less in a given year, as they all usually average out. Expenses like car insurance and the water bill just get budgeted for annually. They don't change that much during a given year so we don't track those kinds of expenses in detail.

For Amazon items I get gift cards from get paid to apps or use credit card points so within reason everything I want from Amazon does not cost us anything out of pocket. I'm also an Amazon Vine reviewer so I get a lot of electronics and household items for free. I try to play beat the budget each month. Like this month I have a lot of comp event tickets, restaurant gift cards and groceries stockpiled so I'm going to try to use up the stockpiles, not spend much at all on the little stuff and use the money instead for some new furniture or home improvement type project.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:46 PM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
I could never be disciplined enough to keep a notebook and pencil with me constantly and write every expense into it immediately, as you do. It could be socially awkward. However, like you, I do record everything. My strategy is to reduce effort by automation, as follows:
(a) put all my utilities and regular payments on automatic debit
(b) charge everything possible to one credit card (I now use fewer than 10 cheques per year)
(c) collect all receipts and transfer them at the end of each day to a Ziploc bag labeled "current month spending"
(d) document any unreceipted cash transactions (1-3 per month) on a Post it note in the Ziploc bag.
(e) check my current and credit card accounts online every 1-2 days

(f) download data from current and credit card accounts to Excel expense spreadsheet at the end of each month. Spreadsheet is preloaded with regular recurring payments, e.g. Strata fees. Reconcile with the contents of the Ziploc bag. Shred all receipts unless needed for warranties or tax returns.
(g) repeat.
This is very similar to my routine except I do it weekly. Another difference is "e" in which I rely on Personal Capital (and some others) to monitor my transactions. such as:

personal capital.JPG

BTW, braumeister is doing what I should be doing... and as soon as I "get around to it," that is exactly what I intend to do going forward.
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Old 02-06-2016, 05:06 PM   #75
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I automate things even a bit more. I use Moneydance on my computer for all financial stuff. It also has an app for my iPhone that syncs via Dropbox. When I'm out and about, I can take just a few seconds to enter a purchase in the phone app (and even take a picture of the receipt if I like). When I get home, it has already been entered into my Moneydance file.
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This is very similar to my routine except I do it weekly. Another difference is "e" in which I rely on Personal Capital (and some others) to monitor my transactions. such as:

Attachment 23186

BTW, braumeister is doing what I should be doing... and as soon as I "get around to it," that is exactly what I intend to do going forward.
To those of you using software that uploads your data to the cloud, do you have any concerns about security?
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Old 02-06-2016, 05:17 PM   #76
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For the original question - I used YNAB4 to keep track of expenses. There is currently a new web-based YNAB that is just out that is subscription based. I have not decided yet when/if I will upgrade to that. Probably not for a while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
To those of you using software that uploads your data to the cloud, do you have any concerns about security?
I have tested the new web-based YNAB to the could. I am not concerned about security. I am satisfied with YNAB's security:

YNAB Security

Beyond that, the primary reason is that there is nothing actually all that secret in my data. I don't put my account numbers or passwords in YNAB so someone knowing my spending is not that big a deal. If someone knows I have an American Express account so what? They don't have any info that would allow them to get into the account.
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Old 02-06-2016, 06:06 PM   #77
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To those of you using software that uploads your data to the cloud, do you have any concerns about security?
No, because everything is encrypted.

Moneydance 2015 finance manager redesign private syncing
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Old 02-06-2016, 08:28 PM   #78
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To those of you using software that uploads your data to the cloud, do you have any concerns about security?
No.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:52 PM   #79
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There were apps that let you take photos of your receipts with your phones.

Convenient but privacy concerns, since they're using OCR to convert the pic into text data.

For the same reason I don't put sensitive material on Evernote either.

Plus a lot of these startups, you don't know how long they're going to be around so it may not be worth going down that road.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:01 PM   #80
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I use Mint. I make sure and categories the spending (transactions) for later analysis ( this helps to make sure all transactions are accounted for.) Every so often I look at Trend -> Spending by month to see the trend for analysis. I like Mint a lot for these reasons especially ( and you don't need to do much work - all I do is the category of transactions is correct) along with the fact I can see my net worth easily. At the end of the year I can easily see how money was spent.

I also keep track of spending on groceries, restaurants/takeout, entertainment and living expenses (toiletries, cleaning supplies, the type of things you need for daily living) each week (I tally at least once a day) to make sure I am within the weekly budget. Once a week I enter the total of the week in the spreadsheet.


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