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Simple Accounting (Seniors)
Old 08-20-2019, 11:13 AM   #1
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Simple Accounting (Seniors)

As memory slows, simple is best. Our personal accounting (no market involvement) goes like this:

Local bank is 1 minute away by car.
Checking account only... Approximately $10,000 base... 1.6% interest
All possible bills are now automatic.
The once or twice a year bills... House taxes, Insurances, HOA etc. are all paid by check. Total of maybe 25 checks/yr.
Credit Card, SS, annuity and other smaller incomes are automatic.

While the balance goes up and down by several thousands one way or another, keeping on top of the totals with the monthly statement is very easy. We've been doing it this way for about 10 years, and have never had a single problem. Leaving a few hundred dollars on the table, but well worth it. If and when we have to turn this over to a third party, it should be very easy to do.

Began after unraveling an incredibly difficult financial mess for a new widow in our Over 55 community where we lived about 15 years ago. Works well for us, as income is almost exactly the same as outgo.

No, nothing new, but I periodically hear about others our age... who run into complex problems, and need help from their kids or an advisor.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:38 AM   #2
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Wise idea. Simple is often best!
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:50 AM   #3
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I can't remember the last time I wrote a check. Everything that doesn't charge a fee goes on the credit card. Anything that needs a check goes into Billpay. The only things in Billpay are HOA, water bill and taxes.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:08 PM   #4
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We pay everything on line - either CC or bill pay via checking. But I prefer to "push" the transaction. I am more comfortable that degree of control.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:19 PM   #5
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Pretty similar story here except the local credit union is close to where we used to live... for the few checks that we receive we can deposit them with mobile banking.

Like the OP almost all our bills are on autopay... most others are paid by a check using our credit union's online billpay function. We write perhaps a dozen checks a year .... a bit more now that DW has a housekeeper.

We keep $5-15k in our local credit union checking account... I could try to manage it closer but it isn't worth the bother.

I monitor the balance in Quicken and using the 90-day projected balances functionality in Quicken since all our recurring deposits and payments are scheduled bills.
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Old 08-20-2019, 03:16 PM   #6
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We pay everything on line - either CC or bill pay via checking. But I prefer to "push" the transaction. I am more comfortable that degree of control.
I agree. My mortgage is on AutoPay- don't want to mess that up and it's the same every month since there's no escrow account. Planet Fitness debits directly every month- I don't like it but I love Planet Fitness and they haven't messed up in the 4 years I've been a member. A few other services such as Netflix get charged to my credit card automatically- it's pretty much the only way they'll do business.

I monitor bank and credit card activity daily to make sure there are no surprises, Pretty easy right now since my checking account and my only credit card are with Fidelity.
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Simple Accounting (Seniors)
Old 08-20-2019, 03:29 PM   #7
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Simple Accounting (Seniors)

If I died or went away somewhere all the expenses (and income) would automatically continue. The one exception is the property taxes, not sure how long the state would let that lapse. I guess maybe when the credit card (used for auto pays) expired that would also cause a problem.
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
...
All possible bills are now automatic.
The once or twice a year bills... House taxes, Insurances, HOA etc. are all paid by check. Total of maybe 25 checks/yr.
Credit Card, SS, annuity and other smaller incomes are automatic.
I write about 4 checks a year. The 2 property tax bills, and 2 underwater gear purchases, on average.

My insurances are paid automatically by credit card, or online; my HOA fees are deducted monthly from the checking account. I COULD pay the property tax using a credit card, but the county would charge a 2.5% surcharge, so I stubbornly write the two checks, just to save $24/yr. Oh, and I do use BillPay for my two annual dentist visits.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:45 PM   #9
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Our current account is our budgeting tool. That's it. Five minutes a month to add up the outflows. They are all either automatic or on line transfers.

I have a target. Not firm but it gives me an indication of where we are. We were significantly under the YTD number a few months ago. This month we will be significantly over. Planning an extended trip and we have been prepaying a lot of travel costs. It will probably even out by November or December.

Don't care how many cans of peas we bought nor do we care about the YoY increase. Don't care how often we ate out or the cost compared to last year or how much we spent on vacation. Or on gifts. We just like to have a good idea of the number at a macro level. Don't plan on buying less peas if the YoY number goes way up or less of something else. Only interested in the bottom right hand number. And even then, it does not matter that much other than for our own interest. Just about everything goes on one of three credit cards. We check the cards every month to verify that all the charges are legit. That is another five minutes.

Between doing a tape on the bank account and reviewing our three credit card statements we know where our money goes. The challenge is not only where the money goes. The real challenge is getting value for each dollar. Just as we make our investments work for us, we expect to spending to yield as many benefits as possible. Value is sometimes more important to us than price.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:16 PM   #10
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We keep things simple and only write checks to the chiropractor and hairdresser that only take cash or checks to keep costs low. Autopay for most bills. We get a discount for paying on the day of service.
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Old 08-21-2019, 04:25 AM   #11
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Pretty close to +1.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:11 AM   #12
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Most of my bills are paid automatically, either through ACH or online bill-pay. My HI is ACH but not automatically, while my CC is paid on line (same bank as checking) manually. The few checks a year I write, and it's a dwindling amount, are for the once or twice-a-year bills like the OP's. Most are doctor copays, charities, and income taxes (not estimated ones, those are ACH).


The money coming in is via ACH although I receive one paper check I have to deposit every month. I do that when I get my monthly cash.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:52 AM   #13
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Like everyone on this thread, we autopay (DW insists on bank>payee, not payee>bank) everything possible and only write checks occasionally, e.g. prop taxes, HOA fees. We use credit cards for most things, cash for most anything under about $10 or sketchy sellers. All our spending, investing tracking is done using Excel.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:59 AM   #14
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I had a bad experience once with autopay bills. I moved once and had my cable bill on autopay. Took me three months to get them to stop charging me and get my money back from them. I decided then I'd never put bills on autopay if I can help it.
I pay almost everything online if I can, but I initiate the payment.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:03 AM   #15
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We are still check writers for any bill that has to be mailed and for those that we can walk to when paying---city hall and a couple of local businesses that give a discount if you do not use credit/debit. Probably totals about 15 per month.

Our primary source of income is a pension from 35 years of working at the Post Office. Not going to bite the hand that fed/feeds us until the time comes.

Use an old version of Money to keep track.

Vanguard, TSP and local CU have everything. Three locations for a 3 fund portfolio.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:39 AM   #16
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I had a bad experience once with autopay bills. I moved once and had my cable bill on autopay. Took me three months to get them to stop charging me and get my money back from them. I decided then I'd never put bills on autopay if I can help it.
I pay almost everything online if I can, but I initiate the payment.
I believe this is a wise approach. Billpay (check-free) is ok because I'm in control; if I turn it off, it's off. But if you let them pull via ACH, you agreed to some "fine print" (well, you didn't!) that gives them too much latitude with your money.



As far as simplification, the ideas in the OP are great. I'm not in that camp, but I can see the value in making things less complicated. For me, only one thing gets paid completely hands-off, and that was due to a significant financial incentive. Everything else, I type the dollar value into the CU web site each month, and concurrently into my check book software. I also, very old school, I know, type CC receipts into the software. And when the statements come, I reconcile to what I have keyed-in. I know I could download and reconcile to that, but that removes the validation of each transaction. I "get" that there are people that hear what I'm saying and think they'd rather get a root canal, but for me it doesn't take much time and I kind of enjoy keeping an eye on things like this.
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Old 08-21-2019, 10:48 AM   #17
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Writing a cheque is an event for us. I think we did all of two cheques last year. One to each of our children at Christmas. It is to the point where I have to hunt around for our cheque book. On those rare occasions when we receive a cheque we deposit it online. Don't even have to go to the teller or to the ATM any more.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:14 AM   #18
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"Writing a cheque is an event for us"

Us too......find gun safe key, open gun safe, pick correct fire box, unlock fire box, remove check book.................then reverse. Everything on autopay, never (knock on wood) had an issue. Finally persuaded DW to quit keeping a checking register; It's right there online and always to the penny.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:29 AM   #19
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Having most of my bills on autopay was very helpful when, back in 2015, I was in the hospital for 12 days. Some bills became due in that time, and they were paid automatically. Contrast that to when my ladyfriend was in the hospital and later in a rehab center for 4 weeks later that year and I had to scramble to make sure her bills got paid (she uses online bill-pay sing "push" for most of them). And in 2017 my 86-year-old dad was similarly out of action and I again had to scramble to make sure his bills got paid. With him, I set up some automatic "pull" features I have with several of my bills so he is protected in case something else happens to him.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:44 AM   #20
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Writing a cheque is an event for us. I think we did all of two cheques last year. One to each of our children at Christmas. It is to the point where I have to hunt around for our cheque book. On those rare occasions when we receive a cheque we deposit it online. Don't even have to go to the teller or to the ATM any more.
Best part of online banking. Remote check deposit.
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