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Old 11-08-2009, 12:38 PM   #21
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I use Pear Budget - the old version that is free and it is an excel spreadsheet, but everything is already set up for you, so all you have to do is download the file and decide what you want to call each expense type (eg. groceries-food, medical, hobbies, dinner-outs, charity, clothes), and start entering your spending. You initially need to decide if the spending type is a irregular (eg. car maintenance), regular (eg. mortgage) and variable (eg. electric). The sheet comes with data already entered in with fake sample data, so it gives you some ideas.

This is almost as easy to do as writing down your spending in a budget notebook, but all the calculations are done for you.

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Old 11-08-2009, 03:16 PM   #22
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Just a few toughts that might not have been mentioned:
1) We use a Schwab credit card as much as possible because it pays 2% back.
2) The Excel spreadsheet we have has one line for that Schwab VISA.
3) What good is it to me to know precisely what we spent on wine or good food or utilities? We already try to economize on everything. But we want to eat healthy foods and the right amounts (which hopefully translates into good living).
4) The real numbers we focus on are the discretionary things like eating out, vacations, new car purchases and non-essential clothing.
5) The monthly budget number is set by the original retirement budget plus a cost of living multiplier updated yearly. And yes, sometimes we've gone over budget but that's just life. Sometimes roofs leak.

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Old 11-08-2009, 05:22 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Bimmerbill View Post
I just started using and I like how it tracks my spending. I admit that I don't track it at all. But mint tracks it all via categories and had reports and trends, pretty cool.
I'll second the suggestion to look at Even though I track everything in Quicken, I only update it once a month. I use to keep an eye on things during the month since there is really little work needed to get useful information out of it.

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Old 11-08-2009, 06:51 PM   #24
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I haven't used, but I was looking at it based on the recommendations in this thread and elsewhere. Even assuming I can get past the concept of having my financial information gathered in one web-based place, I have a question. Mint says it downloads all your financial information automatically, from over 7000 financial institutions. But what if it can't get to something. Does it let you manually enter the info on a monthly basis? Or do you have to leave it out? The reason I ask is that I have a few insurance based investments still with my old FA, and also a non-publicly traded REIT. I wonder if it can get to those?
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Anonymous (not Will Rogers or Sam Clemens)
DW and I - FIREd at 50 (7/06), living off assets
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:23 PM   #25
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I can't be the only one here that still does this all on paper, am I?

I tried Quicken and didn't like it, and I don't like sitting in front of the computer entering things into Excel, so I use a notebook and a calculator.

Almost all of our spending is on credit/debit cards, so I sit down once a month with the credit card statement and bank statement and write down every transaction into my notebook. Then I use a calculator and add up the totals for each spending category (mostly standard categories, plus some that I made up). I enter the totals on another sheet, with columns for each month, to make it easy to compare month-to-month. At the end of the year I add up the totals for each month and enter them into a third sheet, with a column for each year.

I know I could be using programs for this, but I like that doing it manually makes me look at each transaction, and it only takes me about 45 min. per month, so I don't plan to switch.

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Old 11-09-2009, 05:33 AM   #26
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you might be the last one that uses paper... I still use a spreadsheet and just get the bank statements and credit card info off the web once a month and enter it all - let it calculate everything and then just analyze the results...
I am FIRE'd... :)
contract on the house, bought an RV and now traveling across America
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:06 AM   #27
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[QUOTE=WM;873552]I can't be the only one here that still does this all on paper, am I?

I still use paper!

I spend a few minutes each morning tracking our expenses using these "budget notebooks," available from Office Depot and other vendors:

Adams Home/Office Budget Record Book - ABFAFR31

I've been tracking our expenses this way for at least 10 years.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:26 AM   #28
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We use a combination of Quicken and a (remember Lotus?) spreadsheet. Quicken is for the granular stuff - i.e., what did we spend on natural gas last year - and the spreadsheet is for this month and next month's predicted expenses, and current balances. The spreadsheet totals everything up and as long as "the bottom line" is a positive number we know we're good.

But I'm married to a bookkeeper/accountant. She's very precise.
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:24 AM   #29
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I still use a combination of paper and MS Money. I have never downloaded, so when they discontinued the download feature, it didn't effect me.

I keep a binder with monthly tabs, and each month has a list of my regular projected bills and whatever irregular bills are expected. I also have other spending things like birthdays where I send checks or buy presents.

Since I deduct everything from my checkbook at the first of the month, I take care of all known transactions at that time. I rarely write checks except for things like property tax, auto, home and umbrella insurance and gifts for relatives out of state.

I post everything from my checkbook and all receipts from spending in MS Money.

I regularly run reports in MS Money but only print out the year end report to see if I need to work on cutting back in any areas. With the copies from previous years, I can compare to see any trends in spending.
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Old 11-09-2009, 12:51 PM   #30
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I started using Quicken almost 15 years ago, when there was no online version. I don't like change, so I still use Quicken on the computer. I enter everything by hand - I don't find it to be much of a burden and in some ways I like doing it because it really gives me a good grasp of what I'm spending day-to-day and monthly.

I really like the EasyAnswer reports feature - I can total up spending by category and by timeframe (year-to-date, this quarter, last year, etc.). I spend a lot of time contemplating my budget (too much, probably ) and Quicken gives me plenty of tools for doing that.
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Old 11-09-2009, 01:44 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by KB View Post
I still use a combination of paper and MS Money. I have never downloaded, so when they discontinued the download feature, it didn't effect me.
I'm still able to download from my credit card and since most of my purchases are there -- it is a real time saver. From your credit card/bank site, look for their download feature. Download in the appropriate format with MS_Money open and wallah all your gas and big mac purchases are imported along with everything else. A few clicks on categories/etc. and things go even smoother the next time. A good way to check for fraudulent/double charges, mistakes, etc., if done weekly (or even every few days or so). I tend to do with my Portfolio checks, so no additional time is required...
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:24 PM   #32
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I simply dl into Excel, categorize everything and then run a Pivot table on the data and sort it by month/category. Whole process takes about 10 minutes tops however I have everything in one bank and just two accounts to download (chequing and my Visa).
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Old 11-11-2009, 04:53 PM   #33
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Moneydance! I switched this year from years of a bloated Quicken. Free updates, easy double entry bookkeeping, nice clean interface and display without all those Quicken ads, does the bank downloads, tho I don't use that, plus, I can run it on any computer with a thumb drive - can't do that with Quicken. I would never trust on-line anything with my personal data. They can change the privacy policy at will or if it gets sold, they can change it.

I don't put any account numbers or personal ID in my tracking software.
I keep an encrypted password safe to keep all my account/ID numbers.
I also use Excel, especially for tracking my savings/investment accounts.

Microsoft no longer supports or sells Money.
I FIREd myself at start of 2010!
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:00 PM   #34
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I posted this thread with an attached file a few years inlaws are still using it. I used it for a year to see where all the money was going.

Simple Expense Tracking

Seems to me that the corporation's race to the top is resulting in a race to the bottom for the employee's quality of life. FIRE can't come soon enough.
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