Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Tracking spending...
Old 07-18-2015, 04:53 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 96
Tracking spending...

Just want to thank this group. Been a lurker and now an occasional poster. I review the forum daily.

The biggest accomplishment I have made is tracking my spending. I am self employed and my income fluctuates. I run a number of legitimate expenses through my business and I have used software to track that but I never kept track of my personal spending. Mainly because I was trying to create a budget.

I had a lightbulb moment here and decided to just track spending instead of income and no definitive budget. One year later... I have tracked every penny. (Eye opener)

Much more to learn...but I am proud of the past year accomplishment. Thanks to all!


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
__________________

__________________
prose3589 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 07-18-2015, 05:07 PM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,536
It's hard to create a budget when you don't know where the money is going. Congrats!
__________________

__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 05:21 PM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Koolau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Leeward Oahu
Posts: 3,244
I did this a couple of years ago. It WAS eye opening. I had a pretty good idea of how much we were spending, in total, because I could compare to where we started and how much income we had. The difference is what we spent. But, I guessed wrong on several of the specifics. Nothing like accounting for every penny to refocus your spending. Good luck and YMMV.
__________________
Ko'olau's Law -

Anything which can be used can be misused. Anything which can be misused will be.
Koolau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 05:58 PM   #4
Recycles dryer sheets
truenorth418's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 484
I budget each year and track spending to the dollar as I go, and I review/update about once per month to make sure I'm on track. Careful tracking was one of my key tools in achieving financial independence.

Interesting, when other people ask me how I retired early, I tell them it all started with tracking my spending, and they almost always say something like "Ugh, that sounds like too much work, I could never do that." Incredible that so many people think it is such a weird concept.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
__________________
truenorth418 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 06:38 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
bbbamI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas 'burb
Posts: 9,039
IMO, it has many benefits. I'm not the 'bad cop' when it comes to spending. I just show DH the spreadsheet. Also, I see where money is going that will end in the future. I'm so used to tracking expenses, it's become quite the habit with me.

Knowing what we could eliminate if the economy goes south is a bit comforting.

Congrats on your diligence.
__________________
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
bbbamI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 07:01 PM   #6
Full time employment: Posting here.
Tailgate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 881
I'm sure everyone has their own tracking method... I use 'You Need A Budget' and it has been awesome for me.. good reports, mobile app, easy peasy to use... and, like you, personal expense tracking has been a real eye opener....
__________________
Tailgate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 07:42 PM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 3,008
It's weird but I track our expenses more closely now than pre-retirement. I did have a pre-retirement budget; every paycheck I figured out what we needed to live on and invested the rest. Now I download all our credit card transactions (we do so little with cash it's not worth tracking), add any payments out of the checking account, and then key in my own category for each item. Mostly I want to know what we're spending in "necessity" categories such as groceries, housing and gasoline and what we're spending in luxury categories (entertainment, restaurants, big-ticket travel) so if we have a bad year with the investments I'll know where to cut back and what that effect will be. This year has been an expensive one with a trip to Iceland planned for next month and a lot of moving and new house expenses; it's reassuring to see that our basic living expenses are pretty low.
__________________
athena53 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 08:08 PM   #8
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 96
I have tried to track for years but something just clicked. I had a pretty good idea what I was spending but there were a couple of categories that surprised me. I spent much more on clothing and gifts then I ever realized.

This exercise has helped me be more aware. I expect to continue doing this in the future. I use a free and very simple app. I believe it is called spending tracker. Nothing fancy. But served a useful purpose.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
__________________
prose3589 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 09:13 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,020
Quote:
Originally Posted by athena53 View Post
It's weird but I track our expenses more closely now than pre-retirement. I did have a pre-retirement budget; every paycheck I figured out what we needed to live on and invested the rest. Now I download all our credit card transactions (we do so little with cash it's not worth tracking), add any payments out of the checking account, and then key in my own category for each item. Mostly I want to know what we're spending in "necessity" categories such as groceries, housing and gasoline and what we're spending in luxury categories (entertainment, restaurants, big-ticket travel) so if we have a bad year with the investments I'll know where to cut back and what that effect will be. This year has been an expensive one with a trip to Iceland planned for next month and a lot of moving and new house expenses; it's reassuring to see that our basic living expenses are pretty low.
Except for the bolded text, that describes me.
__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 09:48 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,536
I use Quicken to show me my YTD spending by category. Transactions are assigned a category when entered or downloaded, much of the category entry is automatic.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 10:11 PM   #11
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 616
I've been tracking my expenses this year as one of the big steps in determining how much I need to FIRE and even though I do it in a very low tech way, it's still very informative.
__________________
Katiek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2015, 11:12 PM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Chicago
Posts: 4,749
I'm beginning to think I need to track our spending, as otherwise I won't be able to convince DW that we need to spend MORE

While I can easily grab my yearly spending from the bank as I pay all my bills and CC's and take all my spending cash from the bank, it does not break down by category.
__________________
Sunset is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 08:03 AM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Alberta/Ontario/ Arizona
Posts: 3,158
I have assiduously tracked our expenses for over 20 years. I start by setting up the expected expenses for the next year split into about 30-40 categories grouped by each of our homes as well as a general and travel grouping. As I progress through the year I put the actuals in while keeping the "budget" for the remaining months. This allows me to forecast what our net cash will be for each future month.

I think simple tracking is a very important starting point to taking control of your finances. This may or may not progress into a future budget but in most cases it probably will.
__________________
Danmar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 08:17 AM   #14
Recycles dryer sheets
Asher Aion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Northwest Ontario, Manitoba
Posts: 117
After 25 years as the treasurer of our companies and tracking spending each month, I found E-R.Org and the light bulb went off for me as well - track our personal expenses. Just duh.
The hard part is working with DW. Although she is very frugal, we don't always see the same needs. Now at work I have authority to make decisions....
__________________
Asher Aion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 08:26 AM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,322
Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I use Quicken to show me my YTD spending by category. Transactions are assigned a category when entered or downloaded, much of the category entry is automatic.
+1.

I tracked our spending on Quicken for the last 15 years and knew our expenses within 90%-95% accuracy primarily because DW is not big on tracking her spending as closely as I do. Now that I'm retired we track it more closely because I have the time and I enjoy it as well. I'm glad to see that our YTD spending is 8% under budget. I like Quicken's detailed budget vs actual and cash flow reports.
__________________
Corporateburnout is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 08:38 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Dawg52's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Central MS/Orange Beach, AL
Posts: 7,446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Aion View Post
After 25 years as the treasurer of our companies and tracking spending each month, I found E-R.Org and the light bulb went off for me as well - track our personal expenses. Just duh.
The hard part is working with DW. Although she is very frugal, we don't always see the same needs. Now at work I have authority to make decisions....
I too did the same for my company for 25+ years. But do not keep detail spreadsheets for my personal spending. I know in total what the outflow is and I also know my swr is barely over 2%, so just don't see the need for all the detail. You would think with my back ground, tracking expenses would be the natural thing to do.
__________________
Retired 3/31/2007@52
Full time wuss.......
Dawg52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 09:21 AM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 19,449
As I use Quicken to keep track of my investments, I also let it download credit card and bank account transactions. About the only thing I need to do is to reclassify some downloaded transactions, such as to move some gas money from car expenses to RV fuel cost for a better classification.

I only started to do this in 2010, as I switched to Quicken from MS Money, when the latter was discontinued. I used MS Money for portfolio tracking for many years, but did not use it to track expenses.

Now, I have all financial info at my fingertips. How much was my electric bill last year? When did I buy my RV tires, or that battery at Costco for my car? How much for that house painting bill? No need to keep or look up any receipt. A few mouse clicks and I have the answer.

I am sure there are other software like Quicken. With today's computer and the Internet, there's no reason I have to spend time doing manual records.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 09:33 AM   #18
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 731
Each one of these responses sounds like 'me'.

When co-w*rkers asked for advice when I told them I was retiring this year, first thing I would say - figuring out what your expenses is one of the most vital steps in making an informed evaluation on if/when you can FIRE.

It can also help inform your investment strategies to get to FIRE sooner.
__________________
BBQ-Nut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 09:33 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 2,264
I see a lot of people here using Quicken. I have been using Mint to track my expenses and my spending trend. Can Quicken do more than what Mint can do? (You cannot create new, main categories with Mint for one.) Can you use Quicken from multiple computers?


Sent from my iPad using Early Retirement Forum
__________________
tmm99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2015, 09:38 AM   #20
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,457
I used to use Quicken, but Mint is so much easier and can be accessed from mobile. And it is free. I prefer it, just because I don't need the Quicken investment tracking, since all our investments are at Schwab and I can get all the reporting I need from that.
__________________

__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
There's No Tracking Like UPS Tracking easysurfer Other topics 60 05-04-2013 02:28 PM
2008 Actual Spending and 2009 Budgeted Spending dex FIRE and Money 122 03-17-2009 03:49 PM
Tracking your money nuisance FIRE and Money 18 08-05-2005 10:15 AM
Federal TSP tracking site Michael Moore FIRE and Money 11 07-14-2005 02:00 PM
Vanguard tracking error? wabmester FIRE and Money 3 12-23-2004 06:30 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:59 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.