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View Poll Results: How many years did you carefully track expenses before retiring ?
none 21 14.19%
0 - 1 year 8 5.41%
1 - 2 years 16 10.81%
2 - 3 years 19 12.84%
3 - 4 years 9 6.08%
4 years or more 75 50.68%
Voters: 148. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-11-2014, 04:04 PM   #21
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I think I programmed a Basic application to track my expenses a few years after I started working. Updated to C after 5 years or so. Then Quicken for Mac and now Quicken for Windows. Probably 35 years worth of data we can still access. It's interesting to be able to figure out when you bought that old sofa or whatever.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:08 PM   #22
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I didn't track things on a nitty-gritty level. I figured we would want as much disposable income income in retirement as we had the last few years we were working. So, on a macro level I took total income and then deducted:
- what we were saving/investing (a significant chunk) since we figured we wouldn't be adding much to the nest egg;
- FICA since we would have no earned income in retirement;
- a swag for the lower income taxes we would be paying at a lower income level;
- another swag at what we would save on commuting costs, dry cleaning, the cleaning lady and the lawn mowing guy (since we would have more time and less money so we would do those on our own), lower auto insurance and other miscellaneous expenses attributable to working for a living.

I probably looked at 3-4 years worth of data for that and was comfortable that we would be OK. For reasons that are partly still inexplicable to me, the reality was that we didn't need quite as much income as I had figured we would.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:35 PM   #23
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I never tracked our expenses at the level of detail often demonstated by posters here. I knew our gross income, taxes, what was saved and what was spent. I'd occasionally look at some specifics when I felt I needed a deeper understanding of where money was going but only on an ad hoc basis. For example, when the cable TV bill went up, I looked at the past few years history and at alternatives.

Absolutely no regrets. To this day I can't say I've over spent or missed out on savings due to lack of having years and years of spending details. I think Mr Pareto is in play. I know, without journals, where the significant chunks of money are going.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:41 PM   #24
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I'm basically like youbet.

I care more about what I have than what I spent. But I do pay attention to that.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:46 PM   #25
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I started tracking expenses in whatever year the IBM XP came out. Employee discount still cost me over two grand. 20 Mb hard drive and 360kb floppy. 4.7 Mhz processor. How far we've come!
You mean the IBM XT. (Can't fail to show my superior memory!)

I waited a year, and was able to get a Mitsubishi clone that ran at 7.16MHz for the same price. Turbo mode!

That $2K is worth near $5K now with inflation! And how much did we make then?
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:59 PM   #26
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I voted none. My expenses are few and minimal, with few large unexpected future expenditures likely. I knew I was capable of living on a little less than I was while working, and that is the way it worked out.

No Quicken for this guy but then, I only spend ~$1400/month.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:00 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Animorph View Post
It's interesting to be able to figure out when you bought that old sofa or whatever.

Errrrrrrr... Well, maybe.

We all do our own thing. I'd rather know when the ice is going to be out on my favorite walleye lake in northern Minnesota. Last year there was still ice on the water on opening day. That's interesting......
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:07 PM   #28
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I never tracked expenses that closely until recently, but with Quicken and the way we pay for most things with credit cards (paid in full at the end of month), the tracking is free and all automatic anyway.

Quicken saved me money once like this. Soon after I started the automatic expense download, I noticed a $9.98 recurrent charge every month. I asked my wife and she did not know either, and she was the one who paid all bills! It was automatically debited from the checking account every month, so she called the bank to ask what that was about.

As it turned out, it was a deal about automatic accidental death insurance that my wife bought a long time ago. There was a time when she traveled a lot for megacorp, and thought that she would protect the family in case of a disaster. So, we had been paying $10/month for nothing for several years!
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:22 PM   #29
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Tracked expenses about 5 years prior to retirement (retired Jan 2008), but got really serious and started using Quicken to track every dollar when I went part time 3 years prior to full retirement. The more years you track, the more confidence you'll have.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:26 PM   #30
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:31 PM   #31
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Errrrrrrr... Well, maybe.

We all do our own thing. I'd rather know when the ice is going to be out on my favorite walleye lake in northern Minnesota. Last year there was still ice on the water on opening day. That's interesting......
Reminded me of this cartoon today.

I didn't keep great details, but I did track how much we spent for about 6 years prior to ER.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:31 PM   #32
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Not retired yet, but I will likely go this year. For the last five years, we have tracked overall household expenses using statements from one checking and one savings account. Everything we spend runs through one of these two accounts, except for income tax withholding, which we can get from W-2. I don't include payroll taxes (e.g. FICA, etc.) or other employee withholding (e.g. LTD, parking, etc.) that we won't continue into retirement. This lets us know how much we will need annually to maintain our current lifestyle, without getting into the nitty-gritty of dogfood versus cleaning supplies. Prior to doing this, we *did* try tracking and categorizing everything for a couple of years. That exercise wasn't very revealing of anything we'd do differently, and so we felt it wasn't worth the PITA of doing in such detail. We don't have many work-related expenses or other items that we expect will change much in retirement, with the likely exception of income taxes, which are counted at current levels in above and likely will change in our favor anyway. We've also kept separate track of significant travel, charities, and a few large purchases of note, which either aren't routine or may change in retirement, so we can anticipate those accordingly. Our expenses otherwise have been fairly consistent for the last few years, so we are pretty confident in the numbers we get from the above. It's pretty lightweight and works for us.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:35 PM   #33
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Since the vast majority of my spending is for needs rather than wants, I've never made a budget, unless looking in the checkbook to see how much was spent over the past few months counts. Since I need food, housing, and healthcare, knowing how much I am spending provides little useful information: it's not like next month I can simply choose not to eat. Similarly such information does not help me reduce spending since I always seek a good value independently with every purchase.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:38 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
I started tracking expenses in whatever year the IBM XP came out. Employee discount still cost me over two grand. 20 Mb hard drive and 360kb floppy. 4.7 Mhz processor. How far we've come!
Yeah, but you were lucky. Mine didn't have a hard drive.

I remember being able to use a CB radio crystal to change the 4.77m clock crystal on the motherboard. Would certainly speed things up, sometimes too fast to where the FDD would time out before it actually read the disk.

I so wanted the XT HDD option, though. When I finally got it, it came in its own separate case.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:48 PM   #35
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I've tracked expenses since 1988 when I got my first computer.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:49 PM   #36
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I started with an Apple II and graduated to a Mac 512k. No hard drives until I bought an external 20MB hard drive for the Mac
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:33 PM   #37
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I've tracked expenses since 1988 when I got my first computer.
I've often wondered how much I've earned or spent in total over time. I would be curious to know whether you have kept a cumulative total, and in what ballpark it is.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:04 PM   #38
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I have been tracking our income since DW and I started commingling our finances (1999). I have been tracking our spending since I started using Quicken (2004).
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:20 PM   #39
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Since the vast majority of my spending is for needs rather than wants, I've never made a budget...
I still do not have a budget per se, but want to know how much we spent after the fact, and on what.

We have always been frugal, but without earned income, it is easy for the expenses to creep up and encroach on that 3.5% WR. For example, I have observed that over the last 3 years, our non-recurring and unplanned expenses have run around $10K/yr easily. Examples include home and car maintenance, health expenses, etc... Nothing alarming at this point, but we do end up spending more than we thought.
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:21 PM   #40
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We have always been frugal, but without earned income, it is easy for the expenses to creep up and encroach on that 3.5% WR. For example, I have observed that over the last 3 years, our non-recurring and unplanned expenses have run around $10K/yr easily. Examples include home and car maintenance, health expenses, etc... Nothing alarming at this point, but we do end up spending more than we thought.
People only think that these are non-recurring. Unless you sell your cars, car expenses, even lumpy ones, are recurring. Even if you sell your cars, unless you can beg rides, you will be paying for taxis and buses. Ditto health expenses. Unless you die, you will have health expenses, including some fairly large ones from time to time. Check out what a set of new chompers would cost.

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