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Old 01-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #21
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It tells me you don't have anything better to do than make out spreadsheets.

I got a chuckle out of Johnnie's post, 'cause I can sorta see his point. The last thing I want to be is someone who tracks everything because they have nothing better to do. However, I'm not like that and I don't get the impression others on the forum are like that either. I simply can't think of a simpler tool than a spreadsheet to help me see patterns and trends in spending, plan for the future, and stay out of financial holes.

It took me about 2.5 hours today to set up my few spreadsheets, and probably will take an hour a month to keep them up. With my full-time job, grad school, workouts, housework and numerous hobbies, I still can afford one hour per month to help put me on track for retirement.

Two other places where we are also applying a little strategic OCD are a) I'm tracking my food intake [mega-boring...] until I have lost the weight I want to lose and b) husband routinely inventories the contents of our 2 freezers, which has helped us cut down on wasted food.
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:01 PM   #22
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...b) husband routinely inventories the contents of our 2 freezers, which has helped us cut down on wasted food.
DH also routinely inventories the important stuff in our house -- wine.
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:42 PM   #23
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You guys slay me.....
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Johnnie, one of the things you'll discover if you hang around this forum for a while is none of us are exactly alike (thank goodness) and "different strokes for different folks" seems to make the world go round. You may also discover that replying to a straightforward question with a response that may be interpreted by some as insulting could earn you a similar response to one of your future posts. That's something we don't want to encourage since it leads to nasty little spats and too much work for the mods.
JMO, but I think if anyone who found JOHNNIE36's post "insulting" needs to grow a little thicker skin. I got a little laugh out of it myself, 'cause it holds a mirror up to my own tendency to over-analyze things (though that is often just a mental exercise rather than really being OCD about the subject - some people do crosswords, I over-analyze stuff).


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I agree with you -- if you're not going to perform any analysis on the data, then it's a waste of time, whether it's finances or golf.
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It tells me you don't have anything better to do than make out spreadsheets.

I got a chuckle out of Johnnie's post,

I see I'm not alone.

-ERD50
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:06 AM   #24
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... other places where we are also applying a little strategic OCD are

b) husband routinely inventories the contents of our 2 freezers, which has helped us cut down on wasted food.
Ahhh! A subject near and dear to my heart!

First, I absolutely have to give DW tons and tons of credit for cooking delicious and nutritious meals for our family. But...

Her total lack of any "inventory control" drives me bonkers. We waste far too much food, and some of it gets eaten a bit after it's prime (while meat may be OK for 6 months to a year in the deep-freeze, I think it is best to eat it with just a couple months max). She brings home groceries and just stacks the new on top of or in front of the old ( doesn't rotate the stock). She buys a new box of something we use rarely when we have 4 already because she didn't know if she had any or not. Then that box gets stored in a different cabinet than the others so you never know what you have....

I finally inventoried the spices in the freezer (just a list on an index card, stuck in the cabinet where we keep the spices), after finding about 8 separate quart bags of parsley, some in the inside fridge/freezer, some in various shelves of the garage freezer, one in the cabinet... after she came home with more dried parsley! And about 4 half-full boxes of alphabet-pasta (I can't remember the last time we had alphabet-pasta in anything). And of course, all this excess stuff gets in the way of the other stuff, so you can't find that either - it's a snowball effect.


oooops, I guess this is thread-jack, but too late to stop now!

Anyway, the inventory really helped. When we ran out of cinnamon in the spice rack, I could say - "we have more in the freezer!". Six months later, my index card inventory vanished under mysterious circumstances

Oh well, it is her domain. I would not want her re-arranging the tools in my workbench. But OTOH, I don't buy 6 of the exact same tool and just stack 'em up.

So maybe I should ask Amethyst, How did your husband go about setting up a freezer inventory w.o getting you POd?

TIA - ERD50
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:00 AM   #25
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If you let quicken do the work, and download the transactions, they get recorded into Quicken on the date the the credit card company has the transaction on their books.
When you buy Quicken Deluxe, the version I use, you pay 40$ about and get the ability to download for three years. (Quicken has to pay to keep up the servers they use to move data to and from the banks etc.)

Then, for the truly AR folks, Quicken will export the data to Excel, so that you can slice and dice to your heart's content. MS Money may have the same abilities.....I'm not familiar with it.

I have more than 15 years of transactions in Quicken. For those who have the occasional "discussion" with the DW/DH about when something was bought, a long record in Quicken provides the ability to settle things.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:14 AM   #26
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I'm not sufficiently organized or compulsive to perform culinary supply chain management or to enter every transaction on a spreadsheet. I usually do an annual review with scenario building instead. But I do have a friend whose entire kitchen is alphabetized from aragula to zucchini.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:45 AM   #27
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So maybe I should ask Amethyst, How did your husband go about setting up a freezer inventory w.o getting you POd?

EDR50, I think you could start a fascinating thread on "How does a couple keep things running without violating one another's staked-out territory?" Or even, "How does a couple agree on territory in the first place?" I will be watching for such a thread in future, hint hint

Sticking to the theme of "tracking costs/finances"--

Food is expensive, and we put time and effort into shopping for it and preparing it. Therefore, it is worth the effort to track freezer contents. This is our method:

When food goes in the freezer, it is labeled with the date and type of food (indexing). There, it soon gets buried, so husband goes through the freezer contents now and then and writes everything on sheets of paper that he posts on the freezer (tracking).

When one of us takes something out of the freezer to defrost, we check it off on the paper. As quality control, he goes through the freezer now and then and either corrects his papers, or creates new papers that he posts on the freezer....and round and round we go. It's low-tech, but it works.

If we decide this weekend's menu will be, say, lasagne (planning), he can tell me how much mozzarella and ground beef are in the freezer (data), and I can decide whether that's enough or we need to buy more (analysis). A giant pan of Amethyst's "Mamma Mia lasagne," baked on Saturday, makes 2 weekend dinners and eight frozen portions, so he tracks how many lasagne portions are in the freezer, ready to be defrosted for weeknight dinners.

I could automate the paper process, but then I'd have to maintain it, so who am I to mess with what works for him? He's retired, paper is cheap, and I like seeing his handwriting

SteveL, I'll think about upgrading to Quicken once I see whether our finances are complicated enough to be worth the $$...thanks for the suggestion.

Amethyst
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:45 AM   #28
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I record the expense on the day it happened. If it was put on a credit card (we do this for rebates) then I transfer the amount of the expense to a savings account where it stays until it's used to pay the bill.

I don't feel like any of this record keeping is OCD. Some of us do this because we ENJOY IT. I like details and making spreadsheets and keeping track of things is very helpful in LBYM.

I have to admit, I've never kept an inventory of the freezer, but maybe I should.... I vacuum pack meat when it's on sale and I bet I've been using LIFO rather than FIFO.

*LIFO=Last In First Out
*FIFO=First In First Out
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:51 AM   #29
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Credit card charges? Oh.... never mind...
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:42 PM   #30
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I (mentally) record the expense the day it was incurred, because it is a liability till paid. The great thing about a credit card, properly managed and obsessively paid off on time, is that there may be as much as six weeks between incurring the expense and paying the bill. I have just paid for a very expensive upcoming business trip on VISA but have already received an advance cheque from the organization. It's sitting in a high interest savings account while waiting for the VISA bill.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:47 PM   #31
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Johnnie, one of the things you'll discover if you hang around this forum for a while is none of us are exactly alike (thank goodness) and "different strokes for different folks" seems to make the world go round. You may also discover that replying to a straightforward question with a response that may be interpreted by some as insulting could earn you a similar response to one of your future posts. That's something we don't want to encourage since it leads to nasty little spats and too much work for the mods.
I apologize to anyone I may have offended with my remarks. It was certainly was not meant to criticize the methods one uses to record expenses and/or keep track of things. I have tried a couple of "logs" in the past and have found nothing that would help curb expenses. In fact,
the "log" was just painful to review. The easiest thing I've found is to charge everything (and I mean everything) to my American Express card and all those charges are posted on my monthly statement in various categories like a spreedsheet. The problem is again, what can I do about it? Other than our vehicle lease which has another two years to go, my largest expense is my golf club followed by my wife's sewing habit (we're talking about $9000 sewing machine) which is followed by groceries. If times get bad I can always drop the golf club, that's a given. Then what? All the other expenses are fixed.

Again, I'm sorry if I hurt anyones feelings. It was certainly not meant to downplay your methods. Believe me, most of mine never worked.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:51 PM   #32
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Again, I'm sorry if I hurt anyones feelings. It was certainly not meant to downplay your methods. Believe me, most of mine never worked.
No feelings hurt here
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:27 PM   #33
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When I did this I just downloaded the details to the spreadsheet. The dates were already set by date of purchase..
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:33 PM   #34
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To Johnnie36's point about "what can I do about it":

We only really look at the specifics and trends of discretionary categories. We categorize all expenses but except for the discretionary categories, just look at the macro level of year-to-date actual v budgeted.

We look much more closely at discretionary categories including dining out, vacation, gifts given, subscriptions, and scuba diving. Because I do the tracking, my vices (sewing and computer gear) are not considered discretionary and DH's vice (scuba diving) is considered discretionary.
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:59 PM   #35
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I don't know about others, but it helps me to track my expenses by category on a spreadsheet, which is updated once a week. Actually seeing where my money goes helps me to think about ways to reduce waste and do things more efficiently to cut costs. For example, seeing that we just spent $700 last month eating out is likely to make me more careful next month. I find this helpful even though many of the expenses are fixed.

To answer the initial post -- I allocate the items on the credit card statement to the past month. Since my billing period is not exactly at month end, it is not completely accurate, but close enough.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:24 PM   #36
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Johnnie, one of the things you'll discover if you hang around this forum for a while is none of us are exactly alike (thank goodness) and "different strokes for different folks" seems to make the world go round. You may also discover that replying to a straightforward question with a response that may be interpreted by some as insulting could earn you a similar response to one of your future posts. That's something we don't want to encourage since it leads to nasty little spats and too much work for the mods.
Amen
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:14 PM   #37
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Keeping track of expenses also allows us to be sure there are no fraudulent charges on our cards. Those must be disputed within a certain time frame (90 days?). Travelers to foreign lands must be extra cautious when reviewing the month-end statements.

You see, my wife spent a few years in the Fraud Unit of her financial megacorp, and used to tell me about all kinds of scams both vendors and card holders had pulled.

For me, my system is simple. There is a box on my wife's desk, where I drop all receipts. She takes it upon herself to make all recurrent bill payments, and to pay off credit cards every month, which frees me to strategize on my investment moves, and to frequent this forum. She has her own system using an Excel spreadsheet. I have MS Money, that can download transactions from our bank, brokerages, etc..., but had a bit of hiccup in the past, and have not bothered since.

She also surfs the Web, looking for airfare on sales and to alert me of good deals. In the past, this often resulted in us making impromptu trips within a month or so. Ah, those were the good old days of the bull market, when we came back from a trip, paid off our bills, and still had more money than when we left home.
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Post it every every pay period
Old 02-09-2009, 09:08 PM   #38
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Post it every every pay period

I do everything in my power to avoid CC but there is always something. I finally realized the best time to pay down a credit card is every pay period. I get paid every week. New Water Heater - $500 - I pay off $125 per week. That way I'm not stressed out at the end of the month looking for $500.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:22 PM   #39
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Here's another reason to post them when the charges are made: If you use Quicken or another app to track your expenses, that's the way the program will do it.
Yeah - what he said!

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