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View Poll Results: How Do You Track Your Personal Spending/Budget
Quicken (or another commercial software package) 85 60.71%
My own spreadsheet or other home-grown solution 37 26.43%
Other, not worried about it, my balances are all positive... 18 12.86%
Voters: 140. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-25-2012, 11:14 AM   #21
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All of my spending is done via checks, debit card transactions, automatic bank deductions, or ATM transactions and all of it shows up when I log into my bank account online (or look at my monthly bank statement).

I really thought of buying Quicken, but from everything I have read online it is very frustrating to a lot of people and wouldn't be much help to me if I didn't want it to download anything.

Instead, I record and categorize by hand in Excel. This isn't arduous at all; for example, the bank statement that I received yesterday had only 20 spending transactions to peruse and often I only have a dozen or so.

For 2012, out of curiousity I am keeping track of where every cent of my cash is going instead of just recording ATM transactions. I am doing this with the help of an iPhone app - - the free version of "Spend". I log this information into my spreadsheet when I get home at the end of the day. So, I voted "My own spreadsheet or other home-grown solution".

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Old 02-25-2012, 11:21 AM   #22
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Use Excel spreadsheets for budget/expense/investment tracking, requires very little effort to update so don't see the benefit of commercial software.

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Old 02-25-2012, 11:31 AM   #23
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I concentrate on income and net worth tracking so that I do not have to worry about tracking spending.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:37 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I was a serious Quicken user for many years, but I just finally got fed up with its idiosyncrasies.

Beginning with Jan 1 this year, I switched to Moneydance.

I just re-entered the critical details of investments and started fresh.

Moneydance doesn't have quite all the bells and whistles of Quicken, but it'c close enough that I'm really satisfied. It's more user-friendly in many ways (although with its own little quirks as well). It also runs on any kind of computer or operating system.

So far, I've only had to fire up the old Quicken twice to research some stock transactions while doing the taxes, and I keep finding more things I like about Moneydance.
I'm trying to decide between a couple of Mac packages and am leaning towards Moneydance. Does it allow you to tag items as discretionary and non-discretionary? I plan on using Moneydance for budgeting and expense tracking only and the D and Non-D tag is critical. I recall looking for the info but couldn't find it. Thx.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:37 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by spncity View Post
Regarding Quicken - with entries back to 1995 or so...

Are there global ways to "correct" transactions, without having to go into each one?

Over the years, some of the payees haven been put in twice (maybe a typo). I would like to clean this up, but I assume I can't just delete a "payee" without messing up data. Can the two versions of Home Depot be merged into one, for example, and the transactions come out looking right in reports?

Thanks for any comments.
I periodically go in and delete payees from the memorized list. IIRC it has no effect on historical transactions, the memorized payee list is just a "picker" list to make entering new transactions a little easier. To edit historical transactions you may beable to export the transaction history to a .csv file and edit with a spreadsheet program. You can the import into a new qdata file. I would try that but keep an archive copy of the original qdata file just in case.

I have used Quicken for almost 19 years but have lost historical investment data when doing major software upgrades. I use to import investment data, credit card data, loan payments, and current account balances.

I use spreadsheets for long term planning and for annual budgets because I like to customize my information and have never bothered to learn the intricacies of how Quicken does certain functions.
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Old 02-25-2012, 12:08 PM   #26
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I use Excel for the better control I perceive. I really do not want many of Quicken's features anyway.
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Old 02-25-2012, 12:53 PM   #27
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I've used Quicken for many years. I'm unlikely to switch to another program anytime soon, as I've been accused of being a WILIWIK (What I Like Is What I Know).

I really do like the ease of reporting in Quicken, which can quickly show me what I've spend by category year-to-date, last year, etc. And I have to say honestly that even though I considered myself frugal before I started tracking spending, using Quicken and seeing the totals before my eyes really did help me to adjust my spending to be in line with my values.
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:20 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by TrvlBug View Post
I'm trying to decide between a couple of Mac packages and am leaning towards Moneydance. Does it allow you to tag items as discretionary and non-discretionary? I plan on using Moneydance for budgeting and expense tracking only and the D and Non-D tag is critical. I recall looking for the info but couldn't find it. Thx.
Yes, Moneydance lets you tag transactions any way you want.

You can download the full application for free (the only limitation is that you can only enter 100 transactions before you have to buy it for $50).

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Old 02-25-2012, 01:22 PM   #29
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I have always used spreadsheets as I don't track expenses to a fine detail. Most outgoings are on a couple of credit cards, and a typical month on my bank account has no more than 10 entries.

I do track investments using my VG account, linking it to DW's Fidelity account so very little manual input, and the portfolio analysis tools show the breakdown of the holdings.

However, I still track the investments on spreadsheets, calculating IRR.

I also use a withdrawal spreadsheet that I update each January, to calculate % withdrawals, target withdrawal $ based on CPI etc.
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:50 PM   #30
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Spreadsheet user. I have 24 different spending categories. I download the credit card transaction data (in csv spreadsheet format) monthly, and copy/paste my electronic checkbook (also a spreadsheet) transactions monthly. Get all monthly transactions into a list and then "manually" categorize them. I say manually in quotes, because I sort by expense name and usually there are many transactions bunched together like (10 walmart transactions), so I copy/paste the "13" category code for grocery/household expenses next to all 10 entries. When done I sort transactions by category code, then I have to copy/paste into my 24 categories on my spreadsheet. I may overhaul my spreadsheets to automate and simplify soon. I spend about 1 hr a month preparing the summary of monthly spending, but could probably cut it in half (with some sacrifice in presentation) with some tweaks to the spreadsheet.

Works for me, and I don't have to deal with quicken or other proprietary software, upgrades, bugs, checking to make sure all transactions are downloaded, etc. And I can do whatever custom analysis and graphs/charts I want for my own purposes.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:05 PM   #31
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Dear spouse builds Excel spreadsheets that are far above my understanding. I don't know what Quicken does, although my father used it. Couldn't get into his computer on his death to get any info from there or get a look at what it does.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:34 PM   #32
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My 86 YO mom's uses Quicken, her husband who passed 2 YO set everything up. It just runs automatically, and she downloads all her stuff everyday. I only get a call to help her about every 6 months. I will have to get an update soon, because it will sunset shortly. I can walk her through downloading the 2012 version.
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Old 02-25-2012, 03:04 PM   #33
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I transitioned over to iBank when I bought my new Mac. I really liked Quicken better but, iBank is ok for now. I would be completely lost without my budgeting and reconciling software. (yes, I'm one of those that reconcile bank statements) My regularly scheduled income/expense transactions are set up on my calendar for automatic entry via iBank. Everything else, I manually input. I don't track any investment data.
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Old 02-25-2012, 04:16 PM   #34
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I've been using Quicken for almost 20 years. Don't know how I could live without it. I most like the ability to not only track dollars but payee's. For example, DW and I were talking about getting a new mattress. Looked up our last mattress purchase in Q and found it was 10 years old. We were also talking about going back to this great hotel we stayed at several years ago. Boom, found the name and date in seconds in Q.

On the down side, it does take time to maintain, and once in a while, I can't figure out how to do something on the investment side. But, like Midpack, I have all of our investments at Fidelity for about 4 years now, so I can find it there.
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Quicken for years
Old 02-25-2012, 04:24 PM   #35
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Quicken for years

I started with "CA Simply Money " not long after we got our first home computer - Probably before 1990. I have used Quicken for over 15 years. On my fourth or fifth version. The transitions have gone smoothly but each edition has its quirks.

After youngest child finished college at the end of 2007, we were finally empty nesters without high auto insurance and college costs on the books . That's when I began to really track where our money goes more than budget. (Using credit cards for virtually everything and downloading the statements in to quicken is a big help. ) Having lived on very little for several very lean early years frugality is sort of a habit. I just wanted to know what we spend and where, to be reassured that or goal for retirement was appropriate .

After tracking for four years it is kind surprising how even our year to year spend has been. Bulges in the budget have been choices and kinda spread evenly . (My decision to get braces - finally off last month - DH rebuild of his 1966 GTO engine.)

It is nice to feel confident about how much we need to live like we do now . Add in extra for more travel, medical insurance , (on our own there ) , a pool for auto replacement and a category I call "s**t happens. " Back on this board today researching the LTC insurance debate. It's a big peice of the puzzle I have yet to resolve.
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Old 02-25-2012, 04:32 PM   #36
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I've used both Quicken and MS Money; both became a task to keep up with. Later transitioned to Yodlee Money Center which downloads all of your account info together.

About 1 - 2 years ago, USAA started offering downloading of all accounts (including non USAA accounts) into their site. It works great, you can see all of your accounts (investments, credit cards, loans, etc) on one screen. You can set up budgets, email alerts, text alerts, etc. I get a text alert and email whenever a budget category is exceeded. Anyone can join USAA banking; insurance is the only product restricted to Veterans.
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:10 PM   #37
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I use Yodlee Money Center for everything. It links all accounts and updates automatically. It's saved in the cloud so I can check it anywhere. It is not easy to put historical transactions into the model (or at least this was true for me) but very easy to set up for future financial transactions. I expect if you have a program that updates and categorizes your spending by category & total (by week, month, YTD, ) , investments, net worth, cash flow, and tax support mostly done automatically (or with minimal entries by the user), then the programs will likely be very similar. Yodlee has met my needs in terms of measuring spending, analyzing spending, keeping tracks of all of my accounts, and seeing the affect of net worth as it relates to income/market gain/market loss/& spending
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:13 PM   #38
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There are a lot of different philosophies of budgeting and the budgeting software that you choose will work best for you if it is reflective of your philosophy. Before I started using YNAB I always found that programs such as MS Money or Quicken were fine for recording what you had already spent and were fine for creating an aspirational budget. For many people that is all they want or need so those programs are great for budgeting for them.

But, for me, I wanted a budgeting program that would actually help me to stay within a budget. When I was using MS Money or Quicken they didn't really do that. That is recording spending and creating a budget were really separate acts. It was perfectly fine in those programs to create a budget and spend more.

What I liked when I found YNAB is that the program is really designed to have you only budget and spend money that you have. It is based upon the concept that you give every dollar a job and you don't give jobs to dollars that you don't have. It is quite different philosophically to most budgeting programs but it is the first budgeting program I ever worked with that really changed some of my spending decisions as I was actually making them.
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:58 PM   #39
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I just use a spreadsheet. I only have six mutual funds, three in IRA's and three in taxable and my bank account. I figure my spending on the first of each month from my bank account and download all the totals from the funds and come up with all the figures I feel I need. I don't see the need (for myself) to get any more detailed than that.
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Old 02-25-2012, 07:48 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
This has to have been asked, but I didn't see it using Search.

I've tried it twice (years ago), but never thought it was worth the discipline, so I built my own spreadsheets. But now that we almost never write checks any more, and downloading transactions is far more readily available, maybe we need to reconsider.
The primary purpose of any accounting system is to have an independent reference point against which to reconcile the reports from the custodians of your assets. If you just copy the custodian's report of transactions into your own software, what you have is merely a local copy and cannot be used to do a reconciliation.

I have been running a household budgeting system for more than twenty years entering all transactions by hand. The only transactions I accept on faith from the custodians are interest on cash, which I can't very well calculate myself.

And, yes, I have found errors which I got the custodian to fix.

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