Author Topic: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE  (Read 9418 times)

Spork

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #50 on: July 03, 2017, 03:03:54 PM »
I track pretty carefully because I'm taking advantage of the ACA's subsidy and the silver level cost sharing, and staying under a certain dollar amount is VERY important in order to keep from owing, and for the purposes of making sure I can get the cost sharing perk the following year.

But if we weren't interested in the insurance angle, I'd probably be much less involved in budgeting/tracking expenses.

We do this as well.

In addition, we have come to the realization that we over saved.  Tracking gives us the ability to look at expenses and turn a few expenditures up.  After 20+ years of watching/delaying spending, it is a little difficult to do.  It's a huge mindset shift.
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arebelspy

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #51 on: July 03, 2017, 11:42:13 PM »
I track pretty carefully because I'm taking advantage of the ACA's subsidy and the silver level cost sharing, and staying under a certain dollar amount is VERY important in order to keep from owing, and for the purposes of making sure I can get the cost sharing perk the following year.

But if we weren't interested in the insurance angle, I'd probably be much less involved in budgeting/tracking expenses.

But you just need to plan income for that, not expenses.
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Frankies Girl

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #52 on: July 04, 2017, 12:35:25 AM »
I track pretty carefully because I'm taking advantage of the ACA's subsidy and the silver level cost sharing, and staying under a certain dollar amount is VERY important in order to keep from owing, and for the purposes of making sure I can get the cost sharing perk the following year.

But if we weren't interested in the insurance angle, I'd probably be much less involved in budgeting/tracking expenses.

But you just need to plan income for that, not expenses.

In my case, I am having to take RMDs on some accounts, and we also take out more throughout the year (dividends and cap gains usually) from our portfolio to support the spending (at least during the good times the money comes from the portfolio). I have to be aware of what money is in play during the year from dividends/cap gains and RMDs, and how much I'll need to generate out of the portfolio if they don't cover all our yearly expenses.

We're not perfect at staying on budget, so for us it does require keeping an eye on a monthly budget and then making sure we stick to it as best we can so we don't end up having to pull out more from our portfolio, thus bumping us up over our projected income as reported for the ACA. It wouldn't take much to knock us up into a higher bracket as far as the subsidies and to a lesser extent, cost sharing go. Since there is no claw back on cost sharing it may not be as much of a concern as the subsidy limits, but we have no idea if they block you from estimating your income low enough to continue to receive the cost sharing benefits if you have consistently blown past the estimates each year.

We're also in the early part of FIRE, so I feel like it is still a smart move to track our spending for a while to see where we are strong and weak on budgeting/spending and work out the patterns.
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Vegasgirl

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #53 on: July 05, 2017, 08:36:53 AM »
I'm not FIRE but I've never tracked spending.  I have a savings goal each month (pay myself first) and once that is achieved I'm good.  I do have a spreadsheet and I spot check the big ticket items to make sure actuals are close to what I'm estimating but that's about it.

arebelspy

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #54 on: July 05, 2017, 08:50:11 AM »
I'm not FIRE but I've never tracked spending.  I have a savings goal each month (pay myself first) and once that is achieved I'm good.  I do have a spreadsheet and I spot check the big ticket items to make sure actuals are close to what I'm estimating but that's about it.

I'd definitely recommend you track, for at least awhile, pre-FIRE. Coming up with a FIRE budget is very useful. Seeing how you spend money is nice.

Also paying yourself last gets you to FIRE much quicker.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

Spork

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #55 on: July 05, 2017, 08:57:07 AM »
I'm not FIRE but I've never tracked spending.  I have a savings goal each month (pay myself first) and once that is achieved I'm good.  I do have a spreadsheet and I spot check the big ticket items to make sure actuals are close to what I'm estimating but that's about it.

I'd definitely recommend you track, for at least awhile, pre-FIRE. Coming up with a FIRE budget is very useful. Seeing how you spend money is nice.

Also paying yourself last gets you to FIRE much quicker.

Yeah, it turns out that when you look at annual expenses, sometimes the "big ticket item" is a bunch of repeating small ticket items.  For instance, one of the things MMM made me self analyze was my fuel use (pre-FIRE, when I was commuting every day).  The apparently small weekly cost of gas was more than it cost me to sell my SUV and buy a more fuel efficient car.  Auto expenses used to be about my #2 expense.  Now it's down to about #8.
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spartana

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #56 on: July 05, 2017, 06:02:40 PM »
I don't track anymore since I've FIREd just have a set $$ amount that goes into  MM savings account each month and spend from that (and stay within that pre-set budget). But tracking is a huge thing pre-FIRE IMO. It not only shows you where your money goes and where you can make cuts, but gives you a fairly accurate $$ amount needed once RE.
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Daisy

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #57 on: July 05, 2017, 06:07:18 PM »
I never tracked spending before seriously planning for FIRE. But about 5 years ago I started to track it all in my own custom made spreadsheet. It helped me find some obvious overspending categories.

After trimming down those areas, tracking spending keeps me in check and like others have said, allows me to spend more in  some areas where I might be afraid to but get a lot of life enjoyment from...entertainment and eating out with friends. As long as I am within boundaries, I am good. But if I didn't track it, I'd go into full freakout frugal mode thinking I shouldn't spend money on it.

I think I will continue post FIRE so I can feel comfortable spending in categories that bring me joy.

I have the spreadsheet in Google docs now so I can access it from a computer or phone. When it was just on the computer, it was more difficult to keep up with it.

MasterStache

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #58 on: July 06, 2017, 11:50:32 AM »
I am a spreadsheet geek. I track before and will undoubtedly track after.

spokey doke

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #59 on: July 07, 2017, 08:14:54 AM »
I've never tracked spending. When you're as naturally frugal (cheap?) as I am you don't need to.

Every 6 months I add up all my assets and subtract any liabilities.

So far my net worth's been higher every time except for a tiny blip in 2008 and 2011. I figure I must be doing something right.

This ^^^ is pretty much where we are at, and have been for some time...
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Accountant007

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #60 on: July 07, 2017, 08:38:50 AM »
I am not FIRE but think tracking could be useful to keep track of what is discretionary vs. necessary spending.  In the event of a market downturn, it would be nice to know how much fat you have the ability to trim.

arebelspy

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #61 on: July 07, 2017, 09:51:55 AM »
I am not FIRE but think tracking could be useful to keep track of what is discretionary vs. necessary spending.  In the event of a market downturn, it would be nice to know how much fat you have the ability to trim.

Or you could just trim fat in a market downturn, or earn more.  But quantifying it way ahead of time for very little purpose doesn't seem super beneficial, to me, IMO.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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Accountant007

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #62 on: July 07, 2017, 10:20:24 AM »
I am not FIRE but think tracking could be useful to keep track of what is discretionary vs. necessary spending.  In the event of a market downturn, it would be nice to know how much fat you have the ability to trim.

Or you could just trim fat in a market downturn, or earn more.  But quantifying it way ahead of time for very little purpose doesn't seem super beneficial, to me, IMO.

Peace of mind (at least for me), knowing that if there were a market downturn, I would have the ability to trim $xxxx in advance of it happening.  It could be a source of stress not knowing how much flexibility I had in my spending.

mara

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #63 on: July 07, 2017, 06:19:31 PM »
Count me a heretic.  I don't track categories.  Actually, I NEVER have.  I'm a believer in the un-budget approach.  Give yourself an allowance and stick to it.  Otherwise, buy any damn thing you please.

I love the idea of doing this, but it hasn't worked for DH and me. We seem to need more structure and accountability, so we're still tracking. Also, when an unexpected expense arises, we can more easily look to see how to shift our spending around to meet the needs

Guide2003

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #64 on: July 08, 2017, 02:27:58 PM »
Count me a heretic.  I don't track categories.  Actually, I NEVER have.  I'm a believer in the un-budget approach.  Give yourself an allowance and stick to it.  Otherwise, buy any damn thing you please.
I like this! Glad it worked for someone else. "The Millionaire Next Door" called this method "artificial scarcity" by paying yourself first. Makes it sound like a much more sophisticated method when someone comes up talking a bunch of noise about budgeting.
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arebelspy

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #65 on: July 08, 2017, 03:15:38 PM »
Count me a heretic.  I don't track categories.  Actually, I NEVER have.  I'm a believer in the un-budget approach.  Give yourself an allowance and stick to it.  Otherwise, buy any damn thing you please.
I like this! Glad it worked for someone else. "The Millionaire Next Door" called this method "artificial scarcity" by paying yourself first. Makes it sound like a much more sophisticated method when someone comes up talking a bunch of noise about budgeting.

We do this, but without the artificial scarcity of paying yourself first, or giving ourselves an allowance, or anything like that.

I'm a big believer in paying yourself last. 
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

liberty53

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #66 on: July 08, 2017, 10:41:01 PM »
I FIRE'd last year and have been tracking less frequently than I did pre-FIRE.

One thing to keep in mind is that even if one decides not to track expenses as frequently or at all post FIRE, it's probably a good idea to at least preserve the system and data for tracking that was used pre-FIRE.

For example, I tend to try to put as much as I can on credit cards for a number of reasons, one of them being the fairly good classification of expenses provided by credit card companies. If I switched to a lot of cash spending I would lose detail necessary to understand my spending. Expense surprises do happen, and it's best to be able to figure out what happened if necessary.

I just looked at my six month expenses and I'm running a little hotter than expected due to travel and gifts. Without the data I would feel a little uncomfortable not being able to do the analysis.


zinethstache

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Re: Tracking Spending Post-FIRE
« Reply #67 on: July 22, 2017, 12:44:23 PM »
I counted every penny until OMY syndrome hit. I sort of lost interest in monitoring our budget as we focused on huge life changes in preparation for FIRE.

Now in FIRE since we've turned our lived upside down I find I am back to being excited to monitor the budget again:) It is a new world and I am having to make many adjustments (all for the good, having to adjust down in most cases and up in a others).

I suspect after we get to know our new spending habits that I will not be as diligent, however now our lives are very simple so it is very easy to track the fewer transactions in Mint.