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Tracking your spending
Old 06-07-2017, 08:07 AM   #1
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Tracking your spending

Starting to think through the details of retirement life. Hopefully a year away. For those that track expenses is there a tool you use or have you just set up a spreadsheet with your budget and input spending each week/month? Thanks
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:13 AM   #2
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I started tracking our expenses many years ago, and since then have tweaked our budget as necessary. To your question, I've only used a spreadsheet. I'm also a rabid fan of budgeting, so I sort my expenses into a handful of categories.
Knowing our expenses, and the budget protocol, made for easy retirement planning, and future planning as well.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:14 AM   #3
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Mint.com is working great for me. I really wanted to use Quicken but I encountered too many bugs and issues. As they say, YMMV. Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:15 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:18 AM   #5
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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.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:19 AM   #6
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Depends on how much detail you need. Lots of folks use quicken (or similar). I was mainly interested in "total expenses" for the three years before ER, so I funneled ALL my bills through one account and that made it easy to just download and compute.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:40 AM   #7
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Several of us use Moneydance. Runs on any computer and syncs seamlessly with its iPhone version so you can enter expenses while away from home.

I used to be a Quicken user but got fed up with its bugs. I've used Moneydance exclusively for everything for over four years now.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:43 AM   #8
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When I tracked spending, I just used an Excel spreadsheet. Haven't tracked spending since well before I retired. I don't even track (balance) my checkbooks anymore. I'll glance at my accounts on-line about once a month to look for erroneous charges but that's about it.

I track my annual NW but that's about as much detailed as I care about.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:45 AM   #9
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I've used quicken downloads daily (save for when on vacation or in trial mode) for over 25 years. Very detailed spending/investing history--much of which is irrelevant, but it has made it easy to project our baseline expenses in retirement.

Given the cost (which is likely to go up substantially with impending subscription model) and ramping up headaches, I'd not recommend it to a newcomer.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:45 AM   #10
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Starting to think through the details of retirement life. Hopefully a year away. For those that track expenses is there a tool you use or have you just set up a spreadsheet with your budget and input spending each week/month? Thanks
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.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:48 AM   #11
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I'm too busy enjoying life than to take time to follow my expenses.

I've got too many other things in life taking my time--like taking care of grandchildren, maintaining properties and being a perpetual traveler.
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:54 AM   #12
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I use Mint. Tried Personal Capital, got tired of the phone calls and emails for free consultations. Every month, I transfer spending category totals to a spreadsheet. This is also where I can tweak things to make my projection more accurate. For example, the fact that I spent $XX on a kitchen renovation last year is not relevant to planning my annual budget unless I'm going to repeat that remodel this year.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:04 AM   #13
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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 06-07-2017, 09:13 AM   #14
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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.
Excel is free? I don't think so, but I'd love it!
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:18 AM   #15
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Excel is free? I don't think so, but I'd love it!
I already own a licence for Excel (for Mac) so there is no incremental cost. However, if you do not have Excel and do not wis to purchase it, alternatives are available, such as Google Spreadsheet.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:26 AM   #16
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Mint for tracking expenses only. However, I've had to customize it with new categories, tags and automatic search features. Also, I've had it lose my data at least twice over several years. Although I've looked at other solutions, I came back to Mint and just started exporting all my data monthly in case of another data loss. Exporting my data also gives me the opportunity to import into a spreadsheet and run all the reports I choose to create.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:32 AM   #17
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I use Excel, but I only track large categories. So, I track things like Real Estate (mortgage, property tax, insurance), Capital Expenditures (house improvements), Travel, Health (insurance and doc visits), Car, and Taxes (Income, FICA etc), and of course - Savings.


Everything else gets lumped into "Living Expenses".


I'm quite frugal and have never had a problem meeting my savings targets, so I only keep track of the big stuff.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:33 AM   #18
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Starting to think through the details of retirement life. Hopefully a year away. For those that track expenses is there a tool you use or have you just set up a spreadsheet with your budget and input spending each week/month? Thanks
I don't have a budget really. I just track my spending to the penny in a spreadsheet (Open Office, which is like Excel), and input it every day or two. I balance my wallet and bank account and credit card with what I have in the spreadsheet, to make sure I didn't forget anything.

In my financial/retirement workbook, I have a separate spending spreadsheet for each year. Each of these spending spreadsheets has spending for January, then below that February and below that March, and so on. Each month has a few lines for income (to make sure my SS was deposited and so on). After that, each individual expense with date, category, subcategory, amount, and comments on each line. These are in order by category. I have a lot of this filled out and copy/pasted to each month before I begin, and then add the amounts and dates for each expense, and add additional lines as needed.

Then I also have a summary with each month's spending in each major category, that I fill out as the year progresses. There are other analyses and summaries that I do at will throughout the year. For example, I like to project my year's spending and see how I am doing thus far.

I love doing this! I laughingly call it my "Fun with Excel". It really helps me in the eternal effort to spend my money on what I value. It is exciting to do the monthly analyses too.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:45 AM   #19
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We've always budgeted our living expenses and use a simple one page excel spreadsheet that requires just changes to expense inputs (formulas take care of the rest). We write down our cash withdrawals (not what we spend it on) and CC purchases separately, then record them monthly in the excel spreadsheet. Keeping it simple keeps it from becoming too time-consuming and something unpleasant to avoid doing.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:46 AM   #20
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I use LibreCalc. Each tab is a year. Sums on the bottom. Leave a blank day for 2/29, that way the years can be reused.

Date_____Food_____Gas____ ...
1/1/17
1/2/17
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