Originally Posted by braumeister
You're making me feel like a simple-minded fool. I track expenses in just ten categories, and only five of them have subcategories.
If you are a simple minded fool, then this must be the cat typing, because I must not have the mental capacity for it!
I have only one category
- total amount I spend each year.
OK, maybe two of you include an estimate for the 'phantom expense' of car replacements. Since we pay cash I amortize that out over the expected life of the cars, and consider it 'spent'.
edit/add: OK, to answer the Spreadsheet/SW question, let me add this - I simply use a spreadsheet to add up the withdraws from the two accounts that we pay bills from. I add back in any reimbursed expenses or any 'transfers' (IRA contributions - not 'spent', simply transferred; and mortgage principal). Very simple. BTW, I would recc LibreOffice over OpenOffice - essentially the same, but the LibreOffice branch seems to be getting more support these days.
I have yet to see the advantage of breaking it down in detail. We don't thoughtlessly buy things, and our annual spend hasn't really increased in the past ten years (though kids have been leaving the house).
But what do I gain if I learn I spend $X in some category? I'm currently spending that because it is valuable to me. If it wasn't, I wouldn't. And since it is, I don't want to cut it.
Now, if I suddenly felt my spending was out of control, I think the approach I would take is to just look at the expenditures I have control over. Not sure history is all that important for that. Examples:
Time to pay the cell phone bill - Hmmmm, could I get by with a lower cost plan?
Time to pay the electric bill - Hmmmm, am I wasting electricity?
Time to fill up the tank - Hmmmmm, am I driving conservatively, is my CEL on, are my tires inflated, can I car-pool or reduce trips?
Time to do the grocery shopping - Hmmmm, let's see if my choices are really a good value...
etc, etc,. Really doesn't have much to do with a detailed history, as far as I can see. And we already ask those questions regularly, so what am I going to learn and act on?