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Old 02-06-2016, 10:59 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by CountryGal View Post
Danmar I have been able to go back through most of 2015 and 2014 with expenses. However I don't have credit card detail. My old card was hacked a few months back and I haven't been able to get the transactions off it. I may have been able to when it happened, but I am just trying to do the exports now.





There is another app I have used that could also be used for receipts. Jot Not. You can take a picture with your phone and then save it or email it. Still.. more trouble than throwing in a basket.

If you really want to capture each receipt, there is a service is called shoeboxed.com which will scan all your receipts. You just stuff them into a postage paid envelope every couple of weeks and they take care of it. Costs about $200 per year. When I had a small business found this immensely useful not only for receipts but also for business card scanning. Now that I'm retired haven't been using it as much and will probably drop it.

If you're willing to snap the picture yourself, you can use expensify.com which has a free level of service. I still use this for my occasional consulting work.

For our expense tracking and budgeting I've been trying YNAB both YNAB4 and nYNAB. I think it's a great program. I would hold off on getting nYNAB until they get a few more bugs worked out, but I do like the direct transaction import it has for bank accounts and credit cards. I think it's superior to Quicken for household budgeting and tracking.


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Old 02-17-2016, 07:42 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by CountryGal View Post
I am trying to do a detailed expense tracking spreadsheet and wonder how others have done this. It seems the money flows out in so many ways and in some cases are nested. For example I can get an export of all my Amazon purchases. I can also get an export of each set of Credit card transactions, but it will also include the Amazon payments. I can also get an export of all the bills I pay online, which includes my credit card payments.

Then there is the stuff we pay for with cash, paypal and physical checkbook.

I'm getting close, but wondering if there is an easier way... TIA!
I looked back at your original post this morning and a couple things come to mind.

- If tracking expenses was easy everybody would be doing it.

- Each person will have a different approach. As I mentioned in an earlier post it's spiral notebooks for me. For my friend it's an app on his smartphone that allows him to enter purchases easily.

- Not everything purchased at a grocery store is food. Consider separating your purchases into categories if needed. When I shop at the grocery store I put my items on the belt so that it's easy to itemize my expenses - food, health, snacks, alcohol (the kind that's consumed), etc. This is certainly true for big box stores too - think about the variety of items that can be purchased at Target, Sam's Club and The Home Depot. It's likely that there are several "categories" in a purchase at any one of these establishments.

- The item above is certainly true when downloading information from credit card statements. First, the categories on credit card statements don't match how I want to think of my money being spent and second the purchases are not always in the correct category. For instance, purchasing gasoline for my automobile sometimes falls into retail, sometimes auto, etc. I might buy something at Quick Trip that's edible or it might be fuel for my vehicle or both. Separating purchases into categories is key to understanding where your money goes.

- ATM is not a category.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:41 AM   #83
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To be very honest, we don't track our expenses. They've been stable for the past 10 years, and the only real check comes at the end of the year, when we look at our net worth.
Of course we know what we spend, and see bills. A peek at the bank statement and the credit card statement would catch odd numbers, though we haven't had a problem with either for those 10 years.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:55 AM   #84
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YNAB user for 4 years now. I wake up every day, get coffee, open my bank statement, and enter the transactions that settled overnight. My wife laughs at me but it gets my brain working and I look forward to it. Wasteful spending has just melted away, as has any cash flow stress, as I followed the four rules.


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Old 02-17-2016, 10:30 AM   #85
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I do it once a month from my bank statement. Except like extra cash I receive from Costco American Express.


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Old 02-17-2016, 10:31 AM   #86
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I wake up every day, get coffee, open my bank statement, and enter the transactions that settled overnight. My wife laughs at me but it gets my brain working and I look forward to it.
Same here although for me it's in Excel. I check my bank account and credit card account online. Also I enter any cash purchases from my wallet, and then "balance my wallet" to make sure I didn't forget any. I love doing this each evening after dinner to wind down after the day, and look forward to doing it. It only takes a few minutes if that since I normally have only a couple of transactions or so each day on average.

Then at the end of the month, I go over everything to make sure I missed nothing, balance my bank account, and do my monthly summary of each category.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:37 AM   #87
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I used Quicken for years but it was to tedious. Now I have an excel spreadsheet that I use top level then for discretionary spending I use cash. It is amazing how much less I spend using cash.

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Old 02-17-2016, 11:24 AM   #88
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Tracked my expenses for a couple of years on Quicken. Didn't really do anything for us. We knew what was required and what was a "want". Dropped the drudgery and we have been just fine. As long as you live BYM what do I care what the heck I spend it on?
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:42 PM   #89
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- Not everything purchased at a grocery store is food. Consider separating your purchases into categories if needed. When I shop at the grocery store I put my items on the belt so that it's easy to itemize my expenses - food, health, snacks, alcohol (the kind that's consumed), etc. This is certainly true for big box stores too - think about the variety of items that can be purchased at Target, Sam's Club and The Home Depot. It's likely that there are several "categories" in a purchase at any one of these establishments.
That is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. This has dogged me for years.

I have categorized everything (bank accts / CC accts etc) except cash in Quicken 98.

The historical data was priceless when the opportunity to ER presented itself. The consistent year to year spending was shocking considering that we did not impose any type of budget up front on ourselves.

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Old 02-17-2016, 02:17 PM   #90
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Not everything purchased at a grocery store is food. Consider separating your purchases into categories if needed. When I shop at the grocery store I put my items on the belt so that it's easy to itemize my expenses - food, health, snacks, alcohol (the kind that's consumed), etc.
I just count them all as food. So, detergent, sponges, toothpaste, deodorant, paper towels, napkins, baggies, and so on, are included in my food totals. But honestly shopping day is busy enough, and that works for me. If anybody doesn't like how big my food totals are, tough.

Anything bought at other stores gets categorized when I get home and record it in my spreadsheet.
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:30 PM   #91
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Sorting your items at the grocery store may not be necessary. The stores I shop at print the totals by category, produce,shelf goods, non food items. It helps them for sales tax totals and for those people usingEBIT cards.
I do put non food items on a different line. I like to think of my food costs as so much per meal. I even have a line for junk food and takeout instead of grocery.
I am using Google docs template budget this year. I was using Mint but took note of those security issues. It really is not a big deal to hand input expenses.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:07 PM   #92
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I have to say I am amazed at the detail some of you apply to your finances. Mine are a little bit of a hodgepodge. I used to use Quicken but it became so buggy I switched to Moneydance in 2009. I only care about three things with Moneydance. First, I track my investments and net worth. Second, I track my checking account and third (and the one that lets me sleep better) is I take all the non-monthly expenditures, annualize them, divide them by 12 and transfer the gross amount to my savings account. From there, the funds get dispersed to sub-accounts in savings. All on autopilot. I can plan for new yearly expenditures and add, subtract, revise sub-accounts accordingly, which I generally do just once a year. When the non-monthly bill comes due, I transfer the money to checking from the sub-account and write a check or pay online (preferred).

I don't track my expenses like a lot do here. I'd rather drink Scotch.

I use Open Office Writer for a one page monthly budget, revised as necessary, and DW and I are pretty good about following it. It really doesn't change very much.

I check credit card balances for anything unusual each month which is easy since I pay them each month. I also check the cards I'm not using every month or so, never longer than two, to make sure nobody else is using them.

I consciously try to be paperless, so, I use Shoebox for receipts IF I think they're important. I guess I could get burned if my judgement is off and I've shredded the receipt without uploading it but that hasn't happened yet. Even my taxes are PDF's and all supporting documents are scanned in. Now, I do keep hard copies of the scanned items for seven years (taxes only) but then they go to the shredder. Of course, I back everything up (three locations).

That's pretty much it. I have a simple view in that if I spent $600 on groceries whether it was T-bones or toilet paper it just doesn't matter to me. But unless I plan for it, it will only be $600 dollars worth of T-bones or toilet paper.

I'm pretty simple. One checking, one savings, one MMF. I'm a three fund investor. That's pretty much it. The easier the better for me.

Ron
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:44 PM   #93
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I have to say I am amazed at the detail some of you apply to your finances. Mine are a little bit of a hodgepodge. I used to use Quicken but it became so buggy I switched to Moneydance in 2009.
Hey, I also use Moneydance! I thought I was the only one.
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Old 02-18-2016, 03:17 AM   #94
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Hey, I also use Moneydance! I thought I was the only one.
Hey, slowsaver,

I migrated to Moneydance because I needed something that ran on Linux. Around that same time, I pretty much stopped using Windows and Moneydance seemed to be the best replacement since it's cross-platform. And, while not as polished as Quicken, it still does everything I want (graphs, reports, online account reconciliation, etc).

It's been a pretty good program. A couple glitches over the years that were fixed by updates. There is still a nagging printing bug they have not fixed in years but there is a workaround so it doesn't keep you from using the program. Compared to Quicken's issues I think it's a definite "A".

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Old 02-18-2016, 04:59 AM   #95
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We use credit cards that support downloading of all purchases every day. This makes tracking expenses easier. The next step is to categorize the expenses, we use quicken for that. The important thing is to get all of them. So our expense total is right.

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Old 02-18-2016, 05:53 AM   #96
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I think you'll find quite a number of us using Moneydance. I've been completely on it for over four years and I'm still completely satisfied with it.
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Old 02-18-2016, 07:00 AM   #97
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Used Quicken religiously many years ago, but gave up when career demands escalated. Tried Quicken again last year, but couldn't get enough momentum to tame the beast. Recently started entering monthly expenses by category from Personal Capital into an Excel spreadsheet (hand entered, but not time consuming). I didn't do it monthly last year and now some data is missing from early months of 2015, so decided to do it monthly in 2016 to ensure data integrity is better. So far, so good. Not too difficult. As others have said, accurately tracking expenses is a critical component in preretirement planning!


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Old 02-18-2016, 08:35 AM   #98
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Lots of ways to record and track expenses. Everyone will have their variation and reason for doing so and that's good. It's definitely not a one-size-fits-all.

I'd like to add something to the discussion from Your Money Or Your Life. This takes a bit of extra time every month but DW and I found it very meaningful early on and not as much now that we've settled into a routine regarding expenses.

Add a few columns to the right of your monthly expenses. See the attached picture.

Setting up the columns requires some thought because the spreadsheet refers to "Life Energy" from the book YMOYL. The easiest way to think of Life Energy is how many hours you really work to make money.

First calculate your real hourly wage. Your salary (or combined salary) is the numerator and the amount of time taken to make that salary is the denominator. The denominator is not just the hours you were at work but the time to commute, special work events, etc. That allows you to calculate your new, probably lower, salary in terms of dollars per hour.

Now for each expense category divide the expense by your real hourly wage to see how much you had to work to pay for that expense. The result is typically and eye opening awareness of where your money goes. Ultimately you get a feel for how much you have to work to pay each expense. That's why I like to record the expenses as they happen. It really raised my awareness!

In the other columns you simply put a "+" sign or "-" sign as described in the picture.

Don't be concerned with all my categories. The picture only shows A - M on my initial spreadsheet. Yours will be different and not everyone will want the same granularity.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:41 AM   #99
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Before I retired I tracked my spending several times by keeping a record of every penny spent for several moths at a time to help me see where the money was going. When I retired I setup a spreadsheet where I simply enter the daily withdrawals from my accounts when a bill is paid. It is very simple and gives the big picture of my spending. I've tried to use quicken many times and just have never been able to stick with it.

This method let's me easily see the trends in my total spend which is what really matters to me now. I set up columns to show monthly averages for 3, 6, 12, 24, & 36 months.

Works for me!

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Old 02-18-2016, 10:17 AM   #100
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I use Excel to track my overall expenses and create a monthly average. As many have said it is not too hard if you keep it up and for those months I don't have time I just use my CC balance and the total payments from my bank statement.
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