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Old 12-15-2017, 03:13 PM   #41
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Use CC & Bill pay records at the end of the year to add up deductible business expenses, which captures utilities, taxes and mortgages. Everything falls under MISC, and I haven't got a clue how much gas vs tires vs clothing or any other category. All I track is making sure at the end of the year, there is more in the vault than the year before.

One thing I do every so often is run a monthly cash flow against my fixed expenses, to see if there is any trimming that is needed or can be done.
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:51 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Carpediem View Post
I run into this situation too. How do ya'll handle it? Do you take the time to go through your receipt and break it out by the appropriate spending category?

Note: Posted before I saw W2R's reply.
I break it out by category but then I go to Costco or Target only every 3-4 weeks and to a grocery store maybe every ten days. And I spend a lot on some OTC medications and special skin products so want to track those separately from food and cleaning supplies.
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Old 12-15-2017, 04:25 PM   #43
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I call everything at Costco, grocery stores, liquor stores, Etc CASH. I should probably break out the wine, beer, and liquor, but that would be embarrassing.
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Old 12-15-2017, 05:01 PM   #44
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I call everything at Costco, grocery stores, liquor stores, Etc CASH. I should probably break out the wine, beer, and liquor, but that would be embarrassing.
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:07 PM   #45
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I should probably break out the wine, beer, and liquor, but that would be embarrassing.
Or... a PARTY!!
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:21 PM   #46
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I set up an annual budget, then track it quarterly. Same big 12 categories. I don't worry what is in the credit card bill (gas, food, entertainment, travel, medical, etc) as long as we are less than or equal to the quarterly budget. Each quarter is different as insurance and property tax come in different quarters.
Three years in, and it seems to be working.
BTW, we did this for 5 years before FIRE as well, and tracked overall annual expense back to year 2K.
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Old 12-15-2017, 11:54 PM   #47
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I still donít get the point of writing down each and every month your expenses. Unless, you are in such financial dire straits that you have to watch every single penny because you might not have enough money to cover it.

I know close enough what my expenses will be....real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, auto insurance, cable/internet. I know roughly how much we spend on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. Sure, things come up unexpectedly.....but, so what. Do you look at these spreadsheets and say...Ēhoney, looks like you got an extra tank of gasoline this month...better quit driving so much....or the grocery costs were $13.43 more this month than last month, letís skip a few meals next month to even that out.

Do you do it for fun? I just donít see the point.
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Old 12-16-2017, 02:44 AM   #48
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I call everything at Costco, grocery stores, liquor stores, Etc CASH. I should probably break out the wine, beer, and liquor, but that would be embarrassing.


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Old 12-16-2017, 09:16 AM   #49
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I still don’t get the point of writing down each and every month your expenses. Unless, you are in such financial dire straits that you have to watch every single penny because you might not have enough money to cover it.

I know close enough what my expenses will be....real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, auto insurance, cable/internet. I know roughly how much we spend on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. Sure, things come up unexpectedly.....but, so what. Do you look at these spreadsheets and say...”honey, looks like you got an extra tank of gasoline this month...better quit driving so much....or the grocery costs were $13.43 more this month than last month, let’s skip a few meals next month to even that out.

Do you do it for fun? I just don’t see the point.
That's a good point. It seems more of an exercise for information than something that is actually needed in such precision. I am in the non-specific budgeting. I just keep an eye on the total as needed. I don't worry about what I am spending on, just that at the end of the month I am staying within expected amount. I guess that is a nice perk of being in a financial situation where I do not have to watch every penny or purchase. It's not like I have to choose between a good microbrew beer and mass produced - I can have both!
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:50 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by Floridatennisplayer View Post
I still donít get the point of writing down each and every month your expenses. Unless, you are in such financial dire straits that you have to watch every single penny because you might not have enough money to cover it.

I know close enough what my expenses will be....real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, auto insurance, cable/internet. I know roughly how much we spend on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. Sure, things come up unexpectedly.....but, so what. Do you look at these spreadsheets and say...Ēhoney, looks like you got an extra tank of gasoline this month...better quit driving so much....or the grocery costs were $13.43 more this month than last month, letís skip a few meals next month to even that out.

Do you do it for fun? I just donít see the point.
I find it very mentally relaxing to know what we spend. I can see that we spend less than a SWR. Therefore, I have no worries about our $$$ lasting, and really it has shown me we "need" to spend more !

It does not limit what I buy or spend as it's not a budget and we are not in financial restriction.

Now that I have done it for almost 2 years, I have learned my spending in certain categories is not what I thought it would be or was.

As for the effort:
I don't get all OCD about it, so for example, when buying stuff at a grocery store, it's all groceries, even if a bottle of wine is in there. Because the inaccuracy is very small.
If I'm at Sam's and buy groceries and some big thing, I just subtract out the cost of the thing from the groceries.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:52 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Danmar View Post
I call everything at Costco, grocery stores, liquor stores, Etc CASH. I should probably break out the wine, beer, and liquor, but that would be embarrassing.
Yes. Tires, clothes, drugs, liquor, furniture, appliances and a bit of food. Sure glad I no longer have to budget by line item.
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Old 12-16-2017, 12:06 PM   #52
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That's a good point. It seems more of an exercise for information than something that is actually needed in such precision. I am in the non-specific budgeting. I just keep an eye on the total as needed. I don't worry about what I am spending on, just that at the end of the month I am staying within expected amount. I guess that is a nice perk of being in a financial situation where I do not have to watch every penny or purchase. It's not like I have to choose between a good microbrew beer and mass produced - I can have both!
I like to be in total control of our finances. It’s certainly not because we are tight or short of funds. I want to know how much I have in my cash accounts next summer, after I pay for lumpy expenses like the new boat, sea-dos, renovate the bedroom, go on two expensive trips, and gift my daughter enough for a down payment on a house. Also, our dividends are fairly lumpy with some months being much more than others. Our finances can be pretty complicated so forecasting out a year or two gives me confidence and a sense of control.

However, I can certainly see how many others would be just fine doing it your way. Everybody is different.
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Old 12-16-2017, 12:25 PM   #53
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Our expense tracking was all set up well before we retired. And back then saving etc., we were much more careful about our spending and our budget was more carefully crafted.

What we have today is easy because it was already set up. And the budget is a very loose well-padded budget. I really only care what we are spending on our on personal day to day "living expenses" which is most of it, travel expenses, charity and gifts, and "special expenses" that include infrequent items such as buying computers. There is way more detail if I want, but I rarely do more than glance at the specifics.

Income taxes are tracked separately as I do not budget for them in my spending budget as they are not something we can control and vary wildly. I can see reports any time I want. I do set aside funds for paying anticipated and estimated taxes from our withdrawal each year. The rest of the money is available for spending.
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Old 12-16-2017, 12:33 PM   #54
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I like to be in total control of our finances. Itís certainly not because we are tight or short of funds. I want to know how much I have in my cash accounts next summer, after I pay for the new boat, sea-dos, renovate the bedroom, go on two expensive trips, and gift my daughter enough for a down payment of a house. Our finances can be pretty complicated so forecasting out a year or two gives me
confidence and a sense of control.

I can certainly see how others would be just fine doing it your way. Everybody is different.
+1, and well said!

Knowledge is power and I want to be fully aware of what I spend since my spending is something I really do control. It has nothing to do with being worried about spending too much - - I could probably spend twice what I do, and be just fine. I just want to know how much I spend on what, and exactly how much flexibility I have. With this level of knowledge and control, I can do things that I do not normally plan for or do on an every day basis such as buying my dream home in cash instantly.

A lesser reason why tracking my spending in detail is appealing to me, is to know for sure that I would be fine in the next market crash. It's part of my planning. If you don't know and control what you spend money on, you really don't know exactly how much you could cut back in the event of unforeseen disasters.
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Old 12-16-2017, 12:40 PM   #55
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I still donít get the point of writing down each and every month your expenses. ... Do you look at these spreadsheets and say...Ēhoney, looks like you got an extra tank of gasoline this month...better quit driving so much....or the grocery costs were $13.43 more this month than last month, letís skip a few meals next month to even that out.

Do you do it for fun? I just donít see the point.
+1 - I just don't see the value. Of course, anyone can do it if they "want to", but I don't see any reason to do it.

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... Now that I have done it for almost 2 years, I have learned my spending in certain categories is not what I thought it would be or was. ...

So what actionable item comes from that? That's what I don't get. I may know something, but if it doesn't drive an action, what's the point?



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... As for the effort:
I don't get all OCD about it, so for example, when buying stuff at a grocery store, it's all groceries, even if a bottle of wine is in there. Because the inaccuracy is very small.
If I'm at Sam's and buy groceries and some big thing, I just subtract out the cost of the thing from the groceries.
But if you don't separate out grocery items, food, versus toilet paper, versus whatever - what's the point anyhow?

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Old 12-16-2017, 12:57 PM   #56
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I keep a speadsheet of estimated expenses for the year and maybe update it 2-3 times a year, I use a pretty good fudge factor for my non-fixed expenses. I have no interest in tracking down to the penny what I've purchased, just look over my CC charges maybe once a week to make sure all charges are legit. I have 1/12 of my estimated yearly expenses automatically deposited into my checking account every month so it's easy enough to take a quick glance at my account balance to see how I'm doing. My bank sends me an alert if my checking account balance dips below a certain amount so I can make adjustments if needed.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:15 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Danmar View Post
I like to be in total control of our finances. Itís certainly not because we are tight or short of funds. I want to know how much I have in my cash accounts next summer, after I pay for lumpy expenses like the new boat, sea-dos, renovate the bedroom, go on two expensive trips, and gift my daughter enough for a down payment on a house. Also, our dividends are fairly lumpy with some months being much more than others. Our finances can be pretty complicated so forecasting out a year or two gives me confidence and a sense of control.

However, I can certainly see how many others would be just fine doing it your way. Everybody is different.
Yes I agree. I am comfortable looking at my spreadsheet for the next several years that provides an allowance for major purchases. It also includes a forecast for portfolio returns, so if that varies, I can adapt. As I have mentioned before, I do not need to adapt. But I still like to know the impacts.
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Old 12-17-2017, 05:20 PM   #58
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I've been tracking expenses for years. Around 20 categories. I kind of like doing it in a weird sort of way, but as others have pointed out, it's more for knowledge purposes rather than doing something actionable. I rarely stop spending on a category just because it's high or over budget. Probably the best thing about it is I have a very good idea of what our expenses are heading into retirement. I know exactly where I could save money if I wanted to. I also have a very good idea of how much in expenses will disappear after my DS is out of college and on his own. Once we're fully into retirement (i.e. DW retires), I'll probably just load up my accounts with a years worth of funds and quit keeping track.
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Old 12-17-2017, 05:39 PM   #59
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I still donít get the point of writing down each and every month your expenses. Unless, you are in such financial dire straits that you have to watch every single penny because you might not have enough money to cover it.



I know close enough what my expenses will be....real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, auto insurance, cable/internet. I know roughly how much we spend on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. Sure, things come up unexpectedly.....but, so what. Do you look at these spreadsheets and say...Ēhoney, looks like you got an extra tank of gasoline this month...better quit driving so much....or the grocery costs were $13.43 more this month than last month, letís skip a few meals next month to even that out.



Do you do it for fun? I just donít see the point.


Yes, I do it for fun! I used to be an accountant before I quit in 1984 to have a family. I never missed working full time in an office but I do miss the accounting. Our family finances are super simple but I have fun making spreadsheets. I enjoy keeping track of our income and outgo. Our monthly budget is very generous and flexible.

I keep track and wrap up every month because it makes it concrete for DH. Since he retired Iíve tried to get him involved in our finances. Having totals at the end of the month means he can nod and smile and act like it means something to him. Actually, if there is cash in his pocket and food in the house he doesnít care about the rest of it.

So, I do it for me, because itís just fun.
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Old 12-17-2017, 06:16 PM   #60
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