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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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Poll: How long did you track expenses before ER ?
Old 01-11-2014, 01:24 PM   #1
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Poll: How long did you track expenses before ER ?

I have a feeling I already know the answer, but I'd like to poll the group and see how many years our early retirees carefully tracked there expenses before retiring. I'm looking for responses from those who have already retired, rather than those who are planning to retire.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:26 PM   #2
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I am a religious Quicken user so I had a lot of data - at least 5 years but I think a couple years would be sufficient.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:26 PM   #3
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For me, about 20 years in Quicken. Of course I wasn't tracking for the purpose of preparing for ER 20 years ago, but when I wanted to assure myself of the numbers, I had 20 years of data to look back at.

I spent about 12 months analyzing the data before making the final decision to quit my job though.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:27 PM   #4
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Just 3 years. And when I saw that the recurrent charges for basic expenses were repeatable and within range, I called it done.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:27 PM   #5
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LOL you guys crack me up - you didn't vote ?
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:36 PM   #6
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I didn't start tracking our expenses until after I quit, and not carefully for another couple of years. Pretty unique circumstances in our case, but I was confident and needed to make a decision by a certain date.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:38 PM   #7
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I voted zero but it is for semi-retirement. We have part time work we do from home that could probably be scaled up if needed, so maybe mine isn't a completely fair answer.

Then again we don't have to work any more to be able to retire completely, so maybe it is fair. But having the extra income as a fallback option made it an easier choice for us than it might be for other people.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:39 PM   #8
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LOL you guys crack me up - you didn't vote ?
I'm guessing they answered before seeing the poll option. When posting a poll the post text shows up a few minutes before the poll question and options.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:43 PM   #9
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I voted, I voted. Once I saw the poll that is. Do I get a button now?
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:45 PM   #10
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I'm guessing they answered before seeing the poll option. When posting a poll the post text shows up a few minutes before the poll question and options.
Or maybe they are suffering from the dreaded OMP (One More Post) syndrome - waiting for just one more post before clicking the "vote" button.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:49 PM   #11
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I've tracked my expenses using Quicken for more than 20 years. Don't know how much it mattered for predicting retirement expenses. My living circumstances are changing so much with retirement that I have at best a very fuzzy idea what my post retirement expenses will be. I keep tracking them in retirement, but until I get settled in my new place in a year or so they will remain very fuzzy.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:52 PM   #12
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Two years. I had downloaded Quicken several years ago but found it very confusing, and it did not correctly account for all my credits and debits, so I got rid of it. For two years, once a year, I downloaded my bank files in spreadsheet format, enabling me to sort and analyze them in multiple ways on Excel. I also did projections and modeling. These data enabled me to build a fairly accurate retirement budget spreadsheet which I now use to analyze my expenses on a monthly basis. I intend to continue to do the monthly expense analysis for the next few years, until I am out of the Retirement Risk period. Doing it monthly allows me to adapt my spending if I am exceeding projections. Of course spending will vary significantly from month to month with annual payments, so it's important to look at one or two complete years. As Hermit notes above, moving introduces all sorts of one time expenses. It can also affect ongoing expenses. I did not begin my analysis until things had settled after a move. I am pretty sure that once the dust settled, the move decreased my ongoing expenses (and taxes).
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:54 PM   #13
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I voted, I voted. Once I saw the poll that is. Do I get a button now?
I didn't realize there was a delay between the post and the poll - now I know.

For your effort you get ....



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Old 01-11-2014, 02:00 PM   #14
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I have been monitoring my expenses for three years. Planning to retire in 2014,
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:03 PM   #15
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wow, an inverse bell curve is not a common poll result
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:14 PM   #16
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Started using MS Money to track expenses & investments since 1999. Started "seriously" using the Lifetime Planner about 5 years before ER... Probably should move to Quicken... I guess it is a old dog new tricks thing ....
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:37 PM   #17
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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!
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:57 PM   #18
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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!
Yep - I remember the days ! When I first started working with a PC (4 years into my career !) I had to boot up using 2 floppy disks. EEk.

I can't vote in my own poll because I'm not retired yet but I tracked every dollar from Aug 2007 through July 2009. I nearly gave myself a heart attack realizing how much money was being totally wasted on junk I just didn't need. I knew I would never make my ER goal of retiring at 50 with that sort of spend. We cut back on the waste, but never felt a pinch. I have now also tracked every dollar for 2012 and 2013 and have used that to develop my ER plan (my ER plan is actually significantly higher than my current spend level).

Like Meadbh, I download my bank files and use Excel.
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:00 PM   #19
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I've been using Quicken since 99 which is about 14 years before ER. I would feel lost without it!
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:02 PM   #20
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We tracked our expenses with Quicken for about a decade before retiring. It has been an indispensable part of our planning.
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