Author Topic: How do you track it?  (Read 2571 times)

mistymoney

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How do you track it?
« on: April 30, 2019, 05:00:37 AM »
How do you keep track of the outgo/income and monthly bills?

software? online tool?

what cost and how worth it?

ETA!
How much time on a weekly or monthly basis do you spend on the input?
How much time to analyze and review? How frequently do you do so?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 05:50:55 AM by mistymoney »

Trifele

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 05:24:05 AM »
I know I'm an outlier on this, but I use a notebook and a pencil.  Works for me.   

cincystache

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 05:41:30 AM »
I use personal capital but every month I'll go through and make sure everything is accurate and transfer the total spending into a separate spreadsheet. This way I'm not relying on PC databases to save my historical data. It will be handy in 10 years to look at our actual spending numbers and plan accordingly.

mistymoney

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 05:51:30 AM »
ETA and updated the OP:
 
How much time on a weekly or monthly basis do you spend on the input?
How much time to analyze and review? How frequently do you do so?

Linea_Norway

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 06:16:06 AM »
Earlier I had a tool in my bank account that did most of the work for me, and I could import export files from my other bank accounts. Now my main bank stopped delivering that functionality.

I think many Americans use Mint, that is integrated with American banks.

Now I track in Excel. I have one sheet full of columns with pulldown lists to choose a value and a subvalue, dependent on the first. And another sheet where I made some fancy pivot tables that show the different categories.

I found that in practice, having main categories is enough for me. Becoming too detailed is a lot of work, and maybe not necessary.

marty998

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 06:30:58 AM »
How do you keep track of the outgo/income and monthly bills?

software? online tool?

what cost and how worth it?

ETA!
How much time on a weekly or monthly basis do you spend on the input?
How much time to analyze and review? How frequently do you do so?

Most of mine are on a quarterly cycle.

Water - 28 Jan, 28 Apr, 28 Jul, 28 Oct.
Local Council Rates & Strata (your HOA) - 28 Feb, 28 May, 28 Aug, 28 Nov.
Electricity & Gas - 28 Mar, 28 Jun, 28 Sep, 28 Dec.

Whether it is the first, second or third month of each quarter triggers in my mind what bill is due in that month.

I know I'm an outlier on this, but I use a notebook and a pencil.  Works for me.

I know someone like this. Start of the year, all prospective bills with est. cost go in the diary. Then when it comes time to budget the next months pay, whatever is due goes on the pen and paper list. Never fails.


Megma

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 06:34:41 AM »
I use Mint.com, it's free and it works decently well (though it's not perfect). I've been using it around 5 years now. I used to spend more time on it but not I probably check it 3x a week to see what's happening and categorize my transactions if the auto-categorization wasn't right.

I find categorizing things relaxing but possibly I'm a weirdo. It maybe needs 10-15 minutes a week after setup.

Trifele

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 06:36:30 AM »
ETA and updated the OP:
How much time on a weekly or monthly basis do you spend on the input?
How much time to analyze and review? How frequently do you do so?

I spend maybe a half hour a month total on tracking.  As we buy things daily I jot them down in my notebook, and after the end of the month I double check everything against our credit card statement and total it up. 

Buffaloski Boris

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 06:39:09 AM »
I run a budget. There are several free ones online. Most bills are paid automatically through web bill pay with some being manually entered and paid that way. Others go on credit card and once in a blue moon, paid by check.

I enter budget items daily as does DW. Need to: were too spendy to not do it.

I reckon all told we spend 10 hours a month total with budget, bills, budget meeting, etc. its coming down over time.

mistymoney

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2019, 05:55:30 AM »
I was considering mint, or YNAB. Anyone use that one? Or focus only on freebies?

Ideally, I'd like to import (easily? not time intensive?) five years of checking and credit card info. Then I think I could get a better handle on things, historical data, understand where I'm at and what the trend has been.

Is that even possible?

wenchsenior

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2019, 08:03:32 AM »
I'm old fashioned and don't have a smart phone. I save receipts and input them by hand into an Excel spreadsheet (very similar to the one in Your Money or Your Life) every couple days.  I also enter income in the form of checks, or using bank statements at the end of the month.  Pretty much every penny is tracked. It was the single best thing I ever did that motivated me to cut back frivolous spending and save more.

It takes me a few minutes every couple days, and then an hour or two at the end of each month, which is when I reconcile against credit card statements and update my financials (net worth, amount in all our different accounts, etc).


herbgeek

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2019, 08:10:02 AM »
I write down expenses as I pay them on a pad of paper.  At the end of the month, I total up/enter data into an excel spreadsheet I created.  I look at overall spending as well as did I get value in each category I track.  Once a year, I review the categories I track and change as needed.    I have some categories where I try to minimize costs and some categories where that is not the purpose (out for dinner with friends, adventure days).

Slow&Steady

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2019, 08:28:14 AM »
I use YNAB.  We have the "old" subscription price of $45/year so it a justifiable expense to us and worth it to stop the fighting over money/budgets.

I LOVE to see where my money is going so I spend more time in there than I should but it could be done with minimal time AFTER you get it all set up.  It will take time to get it to the point that it is mostly on autopilot and to train your brain to work by checking balances in YNAB and not in your bank account. 

As a side note I feel like the people that need a budget the most want one they don't have to put very much time/effort into it but they are also the people that SHOULD be putting the most time/effort in to it. 

Lady SA

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2019, 12:14:37 PM »
I have a system that toggles between a google spreadsheet for my budgeting and projections, then mint to track my spending (which then informs my spreadsheet budgeting and makes it more accurate over time).

Mint is first, it pulls in all of my accounts and transactions from my past year's spending, I can see at an annualized level what my general spending patterns for all the categories looks like. With these numbers, I then input into my historical spending tab in my spreadsheet, do some math to inflation-adjust the numbers into today's dollars, and then average the category spending across time (to account for annualized spending of large purchases as well).

This averaged spending goes into my budget, or rather what I refer to as my spending plan. Over time, this budget is incredibly accurate, but it isn't accurate month-to-month (ie we may buy bulk groceries that month and put the grocery category temporarily "over-budget", or a quarterly bill will be paid). However, to account for this natural ebb and flow, we keep a month buffer of cash in our checking account.

Anyway, the result is, over the long run, on average we spend $X per month. On some months it will be +/- $X, but we don't get worked up over that much, entirely because over the last few years our annualized spending has been so incredibly consistent, and our "budget" includes those weird one-off purchases that we have made in the past.

Then it is just a matter of filling in the other parts of my spreadsheet to get what I am ultimately most interested in: what is my surplus to save and invest (on average) each month?
So I have my income, I also take out this year's taxes from MDM's case-study spreadsheet, and then with whatever I have left over, I begin allocating the surplus based on the Investment Order that floats around this forum. There's some fun pre-tax vs post-tax things in there that will then again change the numbers a bit so I'm always tweaking my spreadsheets to be more accurate/refined.

Anyway, initially setting up this system was pretty time intensive and it is still occasionally a work in progress. But now that it is mostly running smoothly, it requires minor checks in mint each week to update any wonky autocategorizations, minor updates if things change on the income side, and then each year about two hours of work to pull in that year's spending and recalculate our data-driven spending plan for the upcoming year and refresh any auto-savings if there are changes there.

ixtap

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2019, 12:39:30 PM »
Once a year we download a spreadsheet from our banking site and add up all the debits not heading to savings accounts.

SoftwareGoddess

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2019, 02:13:41 PM »
I use GnuCash (https://gnucash.org). It's free.

For most of my input, every month I download bank and credit card transactions from my institutions, then I import them into GnuCash and classify them. I like a lot of granularity in my expense tracking, so I probably spend more time on this than a lot of people, about 5-6 hours per month.

I also use the budget feature of GnuCash, which works very well for me. I update my budget and spending reports at least once a month, but I don't need to spend a lot of time on those. I've been doing this for a few years now, so there are rarely surprises.

Re: importing past transactions, GnuCash can import transactions in several formats, but you will still have to classify each transaction or at least verify that each default classification is correct. I imported about 12 years worth of transactions from Quicken into GnuCash. It was labor-intensive and took a couple of tries to figure out the nuances, but in the end I was successful.

FireHiker

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2019, 05:53:21 PM »
I use a combination of a free app on my phone (to track everything as it goes in and out) and an Excel spreadsheet (for more in-depth analysis of our spending categories). It's probably not the quickest or most optimized approach, but it works for me. I haven't added up how much time I spend on it. It's only a few minutes to add the expenses each month, but I spend a lot of time looking at it trying to figure out what else we can optimize.

habanero

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2019, 05:44:37 AM »
Use a simple Spending Tracker App on the phone (it's called spending tracker). Think I paid like 3 bucks to unlock all features. Can define own categories, can put in recurring income/expensens and export files if needed. Works fine for me. For investments its all in my online bank. My bank has functionality for categorizing expenses but it sucks big time. You know it's surprisingly bad when they don't even manage to get the electricity bill correct. My provider has like 20% of the country as customers and the company name is included in the itemized line in my account...

Sugaree

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2019, 05:52:44 AM »
Spreadsheet.  It has a budget tab and then uses that to create a checkbook register.  As income and withdrawals are made, I check them off.  It helps me not forget anything and balances my checkbook.

brute

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2019, 05:57:35 AM »
Automated scripts that connect, retrieve, visualize, trend, and predict my data. All proprietary (read: I'm a data scientist and apparently I had nothing better to do on a saturday night after a couple glasses of wine). Good ol' Bayes knows me better than I know myself.

sargentd

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2019, 06:00:30 AM »
I use a Google Sheet (free) I have setup to budget, track spending, project savings / retirement growth that is shared with my DW. I spend a few minutes in there a few times a week depending on spending, maybe up to 10 minutes a week total. There are likely more automated or semi-automated ways to do it but this has worked well for us.

SaucyAussie

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2019, 06:09:19 AM »
I've tried a lot of the popular tools but I always end up back in excel.  I run everything through a credit card so I just download all the transactions and copy into my spreadsheet.  I manually assign a category to each transaction, forcing me to look at every expenditure.  I only have about 50-60 transactions a month so it doesn't take much time.

I do this 2 or 3 times per month so I have a good idea how the month is going. Probably about 20 minutes each time, so 1 hour per month spent on tracking.

freya

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2019, 07:04:38 AM »
I use YNAB classic (not subscription), and I really love the prospective tracking (a la Your Money or Your Life) & zero based budgeting method.  I needed a way to get into a mindful spending mode, and was always that person who is shocked when the credit card bill comes.  Now, I can't imagine not recording every bit of spending on the phone app.

Mint just didn't cut it for me, because it doesn't help with the above issues.  Also it felt like such a waste of time to be constantly fixing categorizations.  I initially tried pencil & paper or saving receipts, but couldn't keep those up.  I'm impressed that so many people here have made that work.   Would love to hear tips!  I know at some point that YNAB Classic won't work anymore and I'll either have to quit using it or cough up the $70/year, which seems excessive.

SimpleCycle

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2019, 08:05:58 AM »
YNAB for expenses.  Personal Capital for a rough 30000 ft overview.  Monthly spreadsheet for real net worth/investments.  Probably too complicated, but it's a hobby.

Rosy

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2019, 09:27:25 AM »
I use a journal - so basically pen and paper, using the zero monthly budget method. I also generally project ahead for the next month or the next three months to see if my plans and my budget will work as intended.

@freya I do not list detailed expenditures or enter receipts - I give myself X for each category and throughout the month check my credit card expenditures to assure myself that I stay within the overall total for all expenditures that I budgeted for.
I use a small slush fund for any oops (basically my min deposit to keep the checking account fee-free).

Savings - I do use a separate account for one income which is used only for savings or dedicated projects - so it never even shows up in my budget.
If the overage in my budget reach more than $500 I sent them to savings or assign them a unique purpose.

I do have several accounts each dedicated to a different purpose which helps me keep things organized and on track.

In the back of the journal are my goals, projections and various methods and outcomes on how best to reach them. I enjoy playing the "what if" game so I run a number of scenarios whenever I feel like it - that probably takes the most "pleasurable" time - which I don't mind at all.

Oh, and I do a quarterly excel spreadsheet for NW with a colorful graph:)

Time - about 15-30 min for the budget and another 30 min to an hour for continuous tracking of expenses throughout the month.
Tracking - I monitor all my accounts online and use apps and special alerts so I always know my status to the penny - accurate and instantaneous. 
Of course, savings and payments are automated, but this month, for instance, I made several changes and radically changed my overall budget and goals for the year.

Automation is awesome but I find it pays off to review the status quo at least once a quarter and look for new optimization possibilities, question everything once again and challenge yourself to find one more way to slash expenses or do something different.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 09:54:46 AM by Rosy »

sparkytheop

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2019, 10:32:34 AM »
I also use the old version of YNAB.  I hate subscriptions, so when it finally dies on me, I'll switch to excel or just stop and go back to my old ways ("my account should grow by $x amount per month, or I overspent and need to cut back"). 

I have the app on my phone, so I just enter things I buy as I buy them.  I have a lot of downtime at work, so I check everything, and add anything I missed, while I'm there.

I just got back from a 9 day vacation where everything was in foreign currency, so could not input accurate numbers.  So, I will input everything later this week based on the dollar amount of the transactions that appear on my credit card site.  I figure this will only take a few minutes, since everything for the vacation will go under "vacation" and not be categorized into food, fun money, etc, like it normally would.

InterfaceLeader

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2019, 10:41:18 AM »
I use google sheets, I have an annual budget broken down by month and a running total of my expected balance at the bottom. I fill it out every couple of days, and it probably takes less than ten minutes.


AMandM

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2019, 11:13:46 AM »
I don't track our net worth at all; we rebalance every year or so, that's all.

I do track expenses & income. When we were first married we used paper to track expenses and we totaled up at the end of each month. Later we switched to an excel spreadsheet. With both of those I tended to fall behind on entering spending, especially with the spreadsheet. The overhead was just too much: I had to find the computer, wait till none of the kids need it for schoolwork, boot it up, open excel, ... all to type in "$42.71 groceries."

Now I use YNAB, the old non-subscription version, and I can enter the transactions on the smartphone with little overhead. The kids rarely use the phone so access is easier.

I try really hard to enter each transaction as it happens. Every couple of days I check my credit card online for charges that other household members have made. I don't do a periodic check on how we're doing, but one of the features of YNAB is that it flags when you overspend in a category, so it prods me to re-allocate money (i.e. cut down in another area) as needed.

habanero

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2019, 01:27:28 PM »
I dont have a budget at all - never had. I just track spending.

RWD

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #29 on: May 09, 2019, 03:00:17 PM »
I use GnuCash (https://gnucash.org). It's free.

I also use GnuCash. I think I spend about an hour every other week.

GizmoTX

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2019, 03:22:44 PM »
I use YNAB, the old pay-once version before the subscription versions. Before YNAB, tracking multiple checking accounts by spreadsheet was driving me crazy. Now I can effortlessly manage registers for all our bank accounts & credit cards, including a construction account for our new house. What is really powerful is the reporting -- I can isolate spending by a single or any group of categories over a date range from the data already captured. I like having to look at each transaction after importing them; it's easier for me to find any errors this way. I don't actually use YNAB to budget because we already have spending under control -- it's cash flow I have to manage. Adult DS finds YNAB's give every dollar a job approach much more worthwhile than Mint.

SimpleCycle

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #31 on: May 09, 2019, 04:30:52 PM »
YNAB for expenses.  Personal Capital for a rough 30000 ft overview.  Monthly spreadsheet for real net worth/investments.  Probably too complicated, but it's a hobby.

I didn't fully answer the question.  I spend 5 minutes or so every 2 or 3 days checking transactions into YNAB.  I spend about a half hour once a month updating the net worth tracking spreadsheet.  Quarterly I spend 3 or 4 hours logging spending and making a PowerPoint for my spouse to review our goals, spending, and anything else big picture I need her feedback on.

DadJokes

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Re: How do you track it?
« Reply #32 on: May 10, 2019, 07:14:15 AM »
I create the budget in Excel, but then enter it into the Everydollar app, where it's a lot easier to enter transactions and view things quickly.