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Old 06-07-2017, 03:32 PM   #41
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Most account aggregation sites like Mint runs on the same backend provided by Yodlee. I choose to use bank of America "My Accounts" page because BoA offers multi-factor authentication. I use "account aggregation" mainly for the following reasons:
* Automatic transaction log - as long as card/bank/mortgage/etc company is part of their automated system
* Automatic categorization - I have to adjust once in a while but the system trains itself in no time.
* Tracking of "last month/last year/etc" expense total - Helps me keep track of my monthly budget number
* Cashflow analysis - Helps me keep an eye on my savings rate every month

Beyond that, I download the transactions in to Excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables to slice and dice the transactions as I see fit.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:32 PM   #42
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Old fashioned spreadsheet with data entered manually each month. It's quick, simple and adequately serves my needs.

I am very uncomfortable with the idea of using software that accesses my financial details through the Internet.
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:19 PM   #43
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I tracked expenses a year prior to retirement and for the last five years.

I do it on a monthly basis and I am primarily interested in the annual number since there can be large monthly variances in our spending.

I track after taxes only. I simply take a tape of my bank statement. Add up all the cash withdrawals, and the bill payment transfers. Simple as that since we put most items on credit cards and we never use debit. Five minutes work a month at most. We only care about the macro, bottom line number.
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:44 PM   #44
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Personal Capital works great for all tracking investments/expenses etc...
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:23 PM   #45
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I've only tracked my spending (pretty much to the penny) ONE time a few years back. I did it with an excel spread sheet. What a royal pain. I saw a few surprises (within categories), BUT, my guesstimate of on-going total yearly spending was well within 5% of my actual spending - so I don't check it anymore. Naturally YMMV.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:54 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
For the first three years of ER I tallied and categorized all expenses every month using a customized Excel spreadsheet. I don't do that any more because I think I have a pretty good handle on my spending. Instead I now do an annual summary. If something changes, I can easily resume the monthly expense accounting.

I like Excel because it's free, it's private, and I can customize it to answer the questions I want answered.


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Old 06-08-2017, 04:58 AM   #47
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I use Quicken - track cash, checking account and credit card transactions, and print monthly and yearly report. Also export monthly data to excel in order to calculate monthly pct's
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Tracking your spending
Old 06-08-2017, 05:13 AM   #48
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Tracking your spending

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Originally Posted by joeea View Post
For a long time, I have used a spreadsheet that I update monthly.

I have several tabs on it, one being EXPENSES. It attempts to capture each category of spending, and express it as a monthly cost. I review it monthly, compare it to my bank and credit card statements and update it accordingly. It doesn't vary all that much from month to month.

It takes only a few minutes per month and gives me a great feel for my current expenses. From there, I can easily see which expenses will go away and which will remain years down the road.

As an aside, the other tabs are INCOME, ASSETS, NET WORTH, PROJECTION, STOCKS, BONDS, HOMES, 529s, CREDIT, INSURANCE, CARS, TIMELINE, RMDs, SSA. Basically, it's one spreadsheet with my entire financial life in one place.

This approach is very similar to what we do. I have many more tabs, including taxes( projections into the future and finalized line by line taxes after the fact). As joeea says, our entire financial life is in this document. The Assets and Liabilities spreadsheet was started back in 1991 when we acquired our first computer, so we have more than 25 years of history on our assets. I started detailed expense tracking in 2004. We charge everything that we can(paying off monthly of course) so that we have a good record. Our main checking account is the other vehicle through which expenses flow so between credit card statements and checking account review we capture all expenses. Cash withdrawals are so minimal-perhaps $500-$600 for an entire year, that I slot those ATM withdrawals under a misc category. I also update the spreadsheet monthly and it takes about an hour for me to go through the posting and updating of various sheets as well as bill paying and transfers between our various accounts. I believe strongly that this "tool" allows me to completely understand our spending, budget, net worth and future projections. Other programs like mint.com do a fine job I'm sure, but there is something about posting the expenses myself that informs my intimate understanding of our financial life. And spreadsheet nerd that I am, I look forward to the first of the month when it is time for this monthly exercise.


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Old 06-08-2017, 06:28 AM   #49
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I use Personal Capital for tracking my expenses as well as my investment performance. My understanding is that there are more flexible online expense tracking tools (such as Mint), but for the combination of both expense and investment tracking, I find PC to be more than adequate.
+1 - I used Yodlee for many years which provided a little more spening information but was no where near as helpful for tracking investments. Knowing what I know now, PC would be my choice as what I feel I lost with Yodlee spending is minimal.

BTW, if you are a Fidelity customer, Yodlee is their supplier for your spending so you can check it out there without signing up for Yodlee.
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:15 AM   #50
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One way I simplify tracking is to not itemize cash purchases. When I get cash from an ATM I just list it as "Cash." Where that money goes is irrelevant. It's normally less than 5% of annual spending so not significant.

Unlike many here, I make most small purchases with cash, and so does DW. Being an old fart, I just can't bring myself to use plastic for anything under about $20.

Also, nearly all restaurant meals are paid for with cash because every time my credit card has been cloned for fraudulent purchases it was shortly after using it in a restaurant (usually far from home). So I made it a practice to never again let the card out of my sight and I haven't had a fraud instance since I started doing that (several years now).

Of course that means I have to carry enough cash for a restaurant meal, but I get good piece of mind from knowing I'll avoid the chance of fraud and the hassle of replacing the card.
This nearly matches what I do (except for the part about being an "old fart" LOL!).

Having worked with spreadsheets in my working days before I retired in 2008, creating a spreadsheet (in Lotus, I prefer it to Excel) was not a big deal for me. My main day-to-day spreadsheet is basically an electronic version of my checkbook register. I added lots of columns to divide the cash inflows and outflows into various but broad categories, including "cash" from the ATM. These categories include individual utilities such as phone and electric, home and auto insurance, and medical bills.

But I also split out some bills such as credit cards, if they fall into certain identifiable categories such as car stuff. I split out my monthly co-op maintenance payment into property taxes and mortgage interest, even if I don't find out the % split until much later. Also, I added columns for my paycheck's (when I was working) deductions such as income taxes, 401k contributions, and health insurance premiums.

These added columns I use not only for expenses but also for a skeleton version of my income tax forms. By building in estimates for recurring income and tax-deductible expenses, I can monitor my estimated income taxes throughout the year.

Another spreadsheet I created starting in 2007 was my Early Retirement spreadsheet. Here, I created a medium-term projection for my expenses and investment income by year starting at age 45 (when I planned to and actually did retire) to age 60, the 15 years I would rely solely on my non-retirement sources of income.

Also in that ER spreadsheet I created an annual projected checkbook register which includes any known or likely expenses I would incur throughout the year. It doesn't have all the added columns of the other spreadsheet. I use this to see where my excessive monthly surpluses will be so I can invest them and get them out of my checking account, while leaving a reasonable cushion to cover me for smaller, unforeseen expenses (and to avoid account balance fees). This spreadsheet includes my lumpier expenses so I can make sure I have surpluses from the cheaper months available to cover the deficits of the more expensive months.
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:35 AM   #51
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I use the Spending Tracker Pro app on my phone. The upgraded version allows you to input recurring transactions (monthly bills etc).

As I'm a LBYM type, I don't bother with the income side, I just track expenses every time I spend some money. Has charts & graphs features.

Though my expenses vary month to month, the running average have been pretty consistent for the last 18 months. Definitely helps when planning for retirement.

I usually round up to the nearest $1 or $5 for ease of use and to add a bit of cushion.

Recently added Mint as an easy summary of accounts/net worth. Don't use it for bills and such just yet. It's definitely less glitchy than Quicken as others have mentioned.
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:59 AM   #52
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My bank and credit union have spending analysis apps that I use, they combine both debit and credit cards. I check them once a month and print out the year to date one to file. I also am an old time user of paper ledger books! I have ours for the past 25 years--will shred/burn them one of these days--lol.
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:00 AM   #53
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I have been using Excel spreadsheets to track spending and create budgets for the last 28 years. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes per month and about 1 hour at the end of the year to set up the following year.
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Old 06-08-2017, 11:55 AM   #54
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My tracking software is so old it needs to be run in a Windows Virtual PC box, hehe! But it's the devil I know: MYM. It has dll's from 1993
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:29 PM   #55
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Started with MS Money in 2007, and now using MS Money, Sunset Deluxe version.
It's free. It's a very manual process to import data. But its been adequate to track our income and expenses for the past 10 years.
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Old 06-09-2017, 08:55 PM   #56
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I use YNAB. Use it just to track expenses. Don't really have a budget, but we like know where each dollar goes. I keep a running 12 month overall report to get yearly expenses, and it has been remarkably consistent over the years, which gives me confidence about what will be needed in retirement.
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:33 PM   #57
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I used Quicken to track our expenses for many years. But we simplified our finances when DW retired. I no longer track our spending in great detail and Excel is good enough to do the job now.
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:35 PM   #58
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Excel spreadsheet. One summary tab with totals from each month and each month has a tab with the same set of expense categories. Doesn't take long to input a couple times a month. On first of month I update expense totals and net-worth values.
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:12 PM   #59
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I use a basic spreadsheet. A few years back someone on this board was kind enough to share theirs with us, and that worked very well for me. I've tweaked it over the years. Below are my current expense categories.

Except for a few extraordinary items each year (ex: paying off the mortgage), there are two ways items get logged -- 1) directly off of each credit card bill, and 2) directly out of the checkbook register. Are there other ways to spend money on a regular, ongoing/monthly basis? So after I pay the credit card bill, I just sit down at the computer and enter each item in its appropriate category. Same for the checking account, which I do after the end of each month.

There are a few irregularities that I just accept. I log ATM withdrawals, but I do NOT log where that money goes (since it's not on a credit card bill or a line item in the check register). I figure over time cash outlays go more or less to the same places. Also, prior to getting an Amazon card, everything I bought on Amazon (which is a LOT), simply got lumped into BOOKS. I knew it wasn't books, but my credit card bill didn't give any details. Now that I have the Amazon card, that gives me the details.

HOME EXPENSES
Real Estate Tax
Virginia Power-Electric
Washington Gas
Fairfax Water
Local Phone-Verizon
LD Phone-MCI
Cell Phones-Verizon
Cox Cable
Poplar Park HOA
Furnishings/Appliances
Pleasant Valley Landscapes
Lawn Doctor and other lawn care
Maintenance/Repair (including RA Dobson)
Home repair, maintenance
Other
Total HOME EXPENSES

DAILY LIVING
ATM
Wegmans
Groceries and other Food <> Wegman's
Costco-Target-WalMart
Personal Supplies / CVS
Clothing
Restaurants
Dry Cleaning
Salon/Barber
Massage/Pedicure
Help for Ruth
Other
Total DAILY LIVING


TRANSPORTATION
Fuel
Repairs/Maintenance
Registration/License
Personal Property Tax
Other
Total TRANSPORTATION

HEALTH
Doctor
Prescriptions-all
Dentist
Labwork
Exercise, Yoga
Weight Watchers
Other
Total HEALTH

INSURANCE
Auto
Health
Homeowner's
Life
Other / LTC
Total INSURANCE

RELIGION/CHARITY/GIFTS
CBE Dues
Other CBE Expenses
Charitable Donations
Other
Total RELIGION/CHARITY/GIFTS

ENTERTAINMENT
Netflix
Movies
Concerts
Theater
Books
iTunes
Other
Total ENTERTAINMENT

PETS
Pets
Other
Total PETS

SUBSCRIPTIONS
Newspaper
Magazines
Club Memberships
Total SUBSCRIPTIONS

VACATION
Travel
Lodging
Food
Rental Car
Entertainment
Gifts
Pets at Vet
Other
Total VACATION

MISCELLANEOUS
Checkfree fee
Postage
Other
Total MISCELLANEOUS
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:39 PM   #60
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I also use Excel, and have for at least 20 years for budget/spending and investing/portfolio tracking. I used spreadsheets all my career, VisiCalc, SuperCalc, Lotus 1-2-3 and finally Excel - so it's second nature to me and DW. It's incrementally free (we use it for many other purposes that dedicated budget software couldn't handle) and allows the advantage of unlimited customization and the peace of mind of knowing every assumption and calculation. I tried Quicken several times, but it seemed like it took way more time, and some customization just wasn't available - but it's been more than 5 years since I last tried it, it may be easier and better now.
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