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What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 01:00 PM   #1
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What do you track?

So I'm within the five-year mark for ER (depending on returns the next few years), and I don't track much at all.

I've done occasional monthly expense tracking (about once a year) as a "snapshot", and I track my net worth once a year.

What else do y'all track and how often?
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 01:12 PM   #2
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Re: What do you track?


I track expenses - monthly. I figure I have a better chance of controlling what I spend moreso than what I can make on my investments.

I update the long-term portfolio one a quarter to see where we are and how we've done. Some of my shorter term savings I track more closely... to see when I can pay off the house....


I like the saying I heard in grad school about tracking/measuring - "If you can't measure it, you can't control it"
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 01:25 PM   #3
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Re: What do you track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggy
...What else do y'all track and how often?
The most important thing to track is net worth. Second most important items to track are income and expenses.

Tracking net worth on a monthly basis gives you a feel for how well you are doing in getting to your goal.

Tracking income and expenses helps you determine why your net worth is what it is.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 01:57 PM   #4
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Re: What do you track?

I track everything. I am an accountant, so I don't know how not to.

Also, I heard somewhere that you have to "mind your business", so I do. I like to know where our monies going. My DH jokes that I run our family monies like a business, well, you better believe it, I do.

I probably do a little too much, but I have very detailed Excel spreadsheets for everything.

Lena
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 02:02 PM   #5
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Re: What do you track?

We track expenses on a monthly basis (hard to know if your income will meet expenses if you don't know your expenses).

Track income on a yearly basis. Look at investments anywhere from daily to yearly, depending on the investment.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 02:58 PM   #6
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Re: What do you track?

If you use an application like Quicken to download your checking account and credit card transactions, it's quite easy to automatically track all of your expenses.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 03:19 PM   #7
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Re: What do you track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
If you use an application like Quicken to download your checking account and credit card transactions, it's quite easy to automatically track all of your expenses.
Not quite "all" expenses, but the majority. You still need to keep track of any cash expenses manually through Quicken. Those "lattes" tend to add up after a while along with all those other miscellaneous cash expenses, for those that have those sort of nasty expenses.

Although I have to admit, I don't use as much cash as I used to. The bulk of my expenses are either direct-debited from my checking (including my credit card payments), or they go on the plastic.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 03:28 PM   #8
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Re: What do you track?

Net worth, more or less.

We have had several failed attempts at tracking expenses. The primary way to limit expenses has been limiting the amount of money in the checking account.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 03:39 PM   #9
 
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Re: What do you track?

I track everything in Quicken. The odd expenditure like coffee and other cash items get tracked in a 'Misc Cash' category. Not that much gets spent in that category, so it's no big deal. I even try to put Small items on a credit Card - Even Fast food places take credit cards now.

I rarely focus on 'Net Worth' because you really can't control this. Once you set your Asset Allocation, you are better off not tracking Net Worth, lest your emotions make you do something Stupid. You could stash away $30K in a year and the Market could help you lose $100K - And you'd have a loss of $70K for the year on your Net Worth. If you focused on your Net Worth too much, you would be tempted to start fiddling with your asset allocation at exactly the wrong time.

Pay attention to the things you can control Like expenses, Budgets. These are items that you can control and will have an effect on your Net Worth. And a tighter budget will allow you to allocate more to your Savings which in the end will affect your Net Worth. When the market is down and you are aware that your portfolio is probably dropping, this is the perfect time to Cut back on expenses and stash more to savings. Stocks would be lower and a better buy!

So track what you can control directly! - Remember the Rich Save money first and spend what's left over, the poor Spend their money first and Save what's left over!
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re: What do you track?

Daily weekly monthly quarterly yearly

Net worth
Expenses
Gas/electric/water meters
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 06:16 PM   #11
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Re: What do you track?

Thanks for all the replies! Much appreciated.

From what y'all are saying, I probably should be tracking the expenses more closely, but the net worth is about right.

And, C-T -- we already do the pay yourself first thing, to the tune of about 20% of gross income. Interestingly, after taxes, savings is our largest "expense," even topping housing (14%).

Now to convince the hubby to track. LOL
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 06:59 PM   #12
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Re: What do you track?

I am 2 - 6 years from er, and have started to be much more diligent about tracking expenses. I review them all in Quicken by category monthly. I have also started an annual review which targets where expenses can be reduced. Last year I dropped some insurance on my car, and dropped life insurance. Next year, we are targeting the house. I track net worth, too, but try to focus more annually on drawing any conclusions.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-07-2006, 10:52 PM   #13
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Re: What do you track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggy
Now to convince the hubby to track. LOL
There are ways, there are ways!! For example, my husband is equipped with a cash-back Visa card on which he charges practically everything. He has a small amount of cash each month for the little things and this simply get allocated to "Misc Cash". I download the Visa transactions straight from our credit union into Quicken, apply categories and then run the built-in cash flow reports -- ta da, expense tracking made easy.

The only things my husband has to do to help is to (a) charge almost everything on the Visa, and (b) keep the receipts so I can see what was charged in order to assign the categories. He is awesome at (a), in fact I am frequently amazed at what he is able to charge. (b) can be more challenging for him -- occasionally I'll have to follow up with him about an unintelligable or missing receipt.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 09:12 AM   #14
 
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Re: What do you track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linney
There are ways, there are ways!! For example, my husband is equipped with a cash-back Visa card on which he charges practically everything. He has a small amount of cash each month for the little things and this simply get allocated to "Misc Cash". I download the Visa transactions straight from our credit union into Quicken, apply categories and then run the built-in cash flow reports -- ta da, expense tracking made easy.
You do klnow that if you memorize the payees in Quicken, that the categoies are assigned automatically on a re-peat Payee. Mot of the time when I download my Visa Transactions, everything is categorized automatically. Tracking expenses is pretty much on auto-pilot for me. 8)
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 09:59 AM   #15
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Re: What do you track?

For a long time I tracked all my expenses in Quicken, then decided it was a complete waste of time since I never really did anything with the data.

Now my philosophy is to hit the savings goals first, automatically, say with 401k deductions, and not give a rats *ss about where the rest of the income goes.

For me it provides the balance with saving for tomorrow, while enjoying today.

Could I retire a couple years earlier if I religiously tracked all expenses? Yeah maybe, but then I wouldn't be enjoying that apple fritter from starbucks that I got this morning

Hats off to those that are disciplined enough to track where every cent goes, I'm sure you'll 'get there' quicker than the likes of me. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Oh but I do track the net worth and investments on a monthly basis. Figure if that is cooking along well, all is good.

- John
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 10:38 AM   #16
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Re: What do you track?

I track all monthly expenses as well as investment gain/loss on a monthly. Also compare net worth month to month using the Fido full view page.
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 10:46 AM   #17
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Re: What do you track?

glad you started another thread on this...I have been tracking expenses for 3-4 months now as an exercise....not sure that I will be doing in the long run (mabye for 6 months to a year on everyday spending) just for long-term planning purposes....other than that...track net worth, income during the year for tax planning, and my taxable investments need tracking (would like to get to the point of only doing that once a year)...
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 11:22 AM   #18
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Re: What do you track?

A couple of years back, I started to track EVERYTHING.....Every red cent. After several months, I stepped backed, looked at where it all went (or didn't went ). I made adjustments to my spending/saving....I now look things over every once in a while (lightly) to make sure income/savings/investments exceed out-go, and I'm far less stressed and just a happy camper!!!

With the initial tracking, I learned (taught myself) to be quite frugal. I bought (buy) what I "need", and things I "want" I add to a sort of wish list.....afer a a few weeks I'll look at the list, and see if I still want it. Usually the whim has passed and I toss it off the wish list (to make room for the next impulse).

(As a side note: I never do without something that I REALLY want....I just don't impulse buy anymore! Now I'm more like a little kid with a paper route. I save my nickels for that one VERY special toy! That way I think I get more satisfaction out of my purchase! )

Current "tracking" is done with online banking, my checkbook register, and a ledger book for bills paid & investments made....that's all! It works for me. 8)
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 11:59 AM   #19
 
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Re: What do you track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by runchman
Yeah maybe, but then I wouldn't be enjoying that apple fritter from starbucks that I got this morning
- John
Sure you could. Tracking your expenses does not mean depriving yourself of anything! You just have the added benefit of knowing where it went.

Like I say I have one bucket called 'misc cash' - So I don't know where every cent goes. I let Quicken do the tracking for me. It's no extra work at all and the data is there when I want to learn something. When you buy everything on a credit card and download to Quicken, it tracks itself. So why wouldn't you
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Re: What do you track?
Old 12-08-2006, 02:52 PM   #20
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Re: What do you track?

I used to be much more anal about my tracking - tracked every cent if possible everyday. Now I still track just not to that specificity. What I've done is identified that amount of money that I must save to meet my long-term goals and current living expenses and if there is leftover, it can be spent or invested. I've been doing this for over ten years now, so the frugality is a habit....I have good price/value points in my head as to what I would spend for a particular type of item or category and let that guide me to whether or not to buy.

In the beginning, though, it was important to track for the external measurement and to learn the internal management.

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