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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: atourlimit111 on December 01, 2014, 12:14:14 AM

Title: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: atourlimit111 on December 01, 2014, 12:14:14 AM
My wife and I are still paying off our debt. We are very excited to living a debt free life. What is holding us back is our spending. We keep all the receipts by the way.

We are not sure if we need to carry a small notebook to write down everything we buy throughout the day. We also have smartphones that we can use.

Both of us are not sure if we need to discuss what we spent on a daily basis or a weekly basis.

I just want to get some ideas from the married couples here on what works best for them and why?

Thanks for reading.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Dodge on December 01, 2014, 12:30:20 AM
We sit down once a month budget with Mint.com. The first time we sat down, we created the budgets of how much we wanted to spend, and agreed to follow them. Now our monthly meetings are mostly just review.

Edit:  Switched to YNAB and loving it!  Explanation here:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/married-couples-what-do-you-use-to-track-your-spending/msg474987/#msg474987
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: goodlife on December 01, 2014, 12:34:09 AM
If you keep all the receipts, then this shouldn't be too difficult, assuming you live anywhere that's not completely a third world country, then I would say 99.9% of things that you spend money on come with a receipt. What my husband and I do is that we record everything into a simple excel spreadsheet..date, type of spending, amount. I sit down every evening and record everything (if anything, it's not like we necessarily spend money every single day). I found it easier if one person assumed the "record keeping" responsibilities and I enjoy that because I am good with excel (I am an investment banker) and it literally takes me 2min to do. Then at the end of the month I look at how we did, where we spent a lot compared to last month etc. Word of advice, make sure you use uniform categories and stick to them (as in call it either "Groceries" or "Food", but don't switch between them) because then at the end of the month you can just do a bunch of SUMIFS functions and get the totals for all your categories.

Also, I don't split out categories into very small details...as in my grocery receipts might include toothbrushes, shampoo and a bunch of other things that are not groceries, but I would find that too troublesome to record it down to such small categories and it hasn't proven to be particularly important so far.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: MDM on December 01, 2014, 01:33:54 AM
Most spending goes on credit cards or auto-paid from checking.  Downloaded to Quicken.  Has worked well for ~20 years.  We tend to call everything we buy at the stores-that-sell-food-and-other-things grocery store "groceries", even if it is light bulbs or soap or whatever.  Otherwise we try to minimize "miscellaneous" and have ~50 categories in use on an annual basis.  Some of those are "sub-categories" in Quicken, e.g. charitable contributions to different organizations get their own sub-category to facilitate itemized deduction documentation.

We set up our budget to "pay ourselves first" via pre-tax deductions (401k and 457) and after tax investments (ESPP and other taxable investments), based on the remainder being what we need for living expenses.  Then watch the checking account balance projections every so often (at least monthly, sometimes more often) in Quicken to make sure it isn't going to go negative or get "too big".  Have a savings account to accumulate extra cash flow in between large, irregular payments (e.g. property tax, auto and home insurance, etc.) and as a buffer to avoid rubber checks.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: theadvicist on December 01, 2014, 02:54:25 AM
We use YNAB (You Need a Budget). I think there are some Black Friday type deals on there at the moment. I started with the 30 day free trial to see if it is any good. We love it, and it has helped our net worth improve dramatically in the past year (and introduced me to MMM!).

I have the programme on my work and personal Macs, and we have the free ipad and iphone apps (they only work with the desktop version, you cannot use apps alone). I can input transactions on the go, and they update to all devices.

Also, before using YNAB I would have assumed all transactions come with receipts. It just isn't so. I tipped my hairdresser the other day. Sure, I got a receipt for the card transaction, but not the tip. Without getting in the car and immediately entering the transactions, I'm sure I would have forgotten the cash element.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on December 01, 2014, 04:30:41 AM
If you keep all the receipts, then this shouldn't be too difficult, assuming you live anywhere that's not completely a third world country, then I would say 99.9% of things that you spend money on come with a receipt. What my husband and I do is that we record everything into a simple excel spreadsheet..date, type of spending, amount. I sit down every evening and record everything (if anything, it's not like we necessarily spend money every single day). I found it easier if one person assumed the "record keeping" responsibilities and I enjoy that because I am good with excel (I am an investment banker) and it literally takes me 2min to do. Then at the end of the month I look at how we did, where we spent a lot compared to last month etc. Word of advice, make sure you use uniform categories and stick to them (as in call it either "Groceries" or "Food", but don't switch between them) because then at the end of the month you can just do a bunch of SUMIFS functions and get the totals for all your categories.

Also, I don't split out categories into very small details...as in my grocery receipts might include toothbrushes, shampoo and a bunch of other things that are not groceries, but I would find that too troublesome to record it down to such small categories and it hasn't proven to be particularly important so far.

This.^^  I have columns for date, vendor, category, sub-category, item description, and amount.  I summarize it in a pivot table that includes the category, subcategory, item, and amount fields.  I can then easily calculate monthly amounts and the percent spent in each category, subcategory, etc.  I've found it helpful to track down to a pretty fine level of detail.  Because I include the item description rather than just lumping by category, I can really see where the big drains are.  For example, I've discovered that we're spending quite a bit on toilet paper, of all things.  I would never have guessed that without tracking the individual items.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: MayDay on December 01, 2014, 05:24:50 AM
A track using YNAB.  I am the main spender (stay at home spouse, so I do most of the errands) so I am the main input--er.  H just keeps his receipts and hands them to me.  Usually it's just gas for him. 

YNAB does have an app so you can input stuff at the store right after you buy it, but I'd rather put it all in once a week (or however often) in a big chunk. 
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Tennis Maniac on December 01, 2014, 05:40:11 AM
Book: Your Money or Your Life (Domingez).

We use google spreadsheets to record all spending.
I assume the record keeping but rely on input from my wife whenever she buys anything. I have lately been doing this monthly, rather than daily, but some detail is lost if you don't spend 1-5 minutes daily to do this.
All receipts are broken down into categories (about 50).  A single receipt might get broken down into multiple categories, but mostly this doesn't happen.
I try to keep the categories broad unless we are trying to reduce spending in a category, then I break it down further, sometimes on a separate spreadsheet so we can see where our "problem" is (eg food; search my previous posts for some discussion on food in particular)
My spreadsheet also has calculations for net worth so we can see progress each month. This is motivating!
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: boogiewoogie on December 01, 2014, 05:46:40 AM
Another vote for YNAB. I started January this year, and as main earner and also main spender it's really turned things around. That, plus cancer in the family and buying a house for the first time has made me start thinking long term.

My wife came on board within a few months and now everything gets tracked - all our accounts, cash, my wife's personal accounts etc. The mobile app is convenient when I don't feel like opening up the computer. We keep all receipts till they get entered in, although it usually goes in the same day, or perhaps the next. It's a shared responsibility, but since I now rarely buy anything, there's not a lot for me to do :)

Good luck!




Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Mesmoiselle on December 01, 2014, 06:19:01 AM
We use YNAB (You Need a Budget). I think there are some Black Friday type deals on there at the moment. I started with the 30 day free trial to see if it is any good. We love it, and it has helped our net worth improve dramatically in the past year (and introduced me to MMM!).

I have the programme on my work and personal Macs, and we have the free ipad and iphone apps (they only work with the desktop version, you cannot use apps alone). I can input transactions on the go, and they update to all devices.

Also, before using YNAB I would have assumed all transactions come with receipts. It just isn't so. I tipped my hairdresser the other day. Sure, I got a receipt for the card transaction, but not the tip. Without getting in the car and immediately entering the transactions, I'm sure I would have forgotten the cash element.

Another vote for YNAB. I love the apps for our phone and the tip is included from the from the get go. Before YNAB we used an excel spreadsheet. Nightmare for our level of needs (checking account and 8 CC is a lot to keep up with)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Malaysia41 on December 01, 2014, 06:21:34 AM
mint.com and mint phone apps.  easy.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: ioseftavi on December 01, 2014, 06:25:58 AM
We don't track our spending beyond the overall level.  We both deposit our paychecks into a joint account.  From the joint account, we pay our regular, joint expenses: credit cards (minimal bills), rent, and utilities.  We also do our scheduled savings from this account:  automated investments that are deducted from the joint account and moved to vanguard, our HSAs, betterment, etc.

We then have two separate checking accounts for both of us.  Twice a month, we have automatic transfers from our "main" joint account into each of our checking accounts.  Each of us can decide what to do with the money in our checking accounts, and we fully expect to spend our checking accounts down to zero each period, which makes budgeting easy.  We both agree on the overall level of spending cash (i.e. "OK, we each get $X amount per pay period for personal money") but beyond that, we don't worry about it.

Changes to the "spending money" amount or withdrawals from our long-term funds are discussed with each other. 

We occasionally chat about ways we can reduce our bills or discretionary spending, and we'll implement them.  But normally, this happens as follows:

Me: Hey, I've noticed that I am not spending as much as a year ago.
Lentils: Me neither.
Me:  Do we want to adjust our discretionary spending amounts down?
Lentils: Sure, how about 90% of X?
Me: Hokay.  I'll change the transfers online.

This way, we don't have to instruct each other to NEVER GET LUNCH OUT or whatever.  We just figure out ways to reduce our individual spending, based on our habits/preferences.  We reduce the amount we give ourselves to spend, and it's fine.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Clarion on December 01, 2014, 06:42:20 AM
We use an iphone app called GoodBudget.  It syncs between devices, easy to use and best of all it's free!!
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: boarder42 on December 01, 2014, 06:47:07 AM
i dont track my spending.  I know how much i save and how much i make.  at tax time each year you can see your income and compare it to your savings.  My wife on the other hand has a detailed excel spreadsheet she tracks her spending on and color codes it all.  its pretty involved.  she wasnt a saver like i was growing up so she needs to track this way to keep her budget.  - we have seperate finances with a couple combo cards for gas and groceries.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: rubybeth on December 01, 2014, 06:52:16 AM
Another vote for the Mint.com website and app. DH and I have used this since before we were married. It lets you set up goals to pay off debt or save toward specific things (or make up your own goal) and each of you can login and see up to the minute info. on spending. It also alerts you to potentially fraudulent spending.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: pbkmaine on December 01, 2014, 07:07:09 AM
IMHO, the best thing you can do with your money is to "pre-spend" it by fully funding your retirement accounts and putting a chunk over and above that into savings. If you don't see it in checking, you are less likely to spend it.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: starbuck on December 01, 2014, 07:24:41 AM
Mint.com + smartphone app. I automate just about everything (bill paying, investments, recording transactions) so my time is spent analyzing and reviewing the data, rather than the paperwork.

When I spend cash, it's for a specific purpose and that's how I categorize it. $40 for dinner with friends -> 'Restaurants'

I've used Mint for several years now and the data that you can pull and analyze is super fantastic.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Philociraptor on December 01, 2014, 07:37:52 AM
Mint.com. We use CC's for everything so transactions are automatically imported. I'm the only one who checks it daily (fix any incorrect categories, check for fraud, etc.), and we go over our spending once a month. Simple.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Bartstache on December 01, 2014, 09:03:31 AM
Mint.com. We use CC's for everything so transactions are automatically imported. I'm the only one who checks it daily (fix any incorrect categories, check for fraud, etc.), and we go over our spending once a month. Simple.

Ditto for us.  Although mint isn't perfect, it makes tracking everything easy.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: catccc on December 01, 2014, 09:12:05 AM
Another vote for YNAB, especially if you are smart phone owners.  It works well for me, even though DH is not great at entering his transactions.  (But he will tell me about them, or even text me them!)  If you are both on board it will be a snap. 

If you are looking for a hands-off, automated, look back approach, mint and yodlee both work fine.   I think there are also fans of personal capital here.  YNAB is more of a current tool, requires manual input (that YNAB users will tell you quickly becomes second nature), mint and yodlee are great for reviewing spending history.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Alenzia on December 01, 2014, 10:24:00 AM
If you keep all the receipts, then this shouldn't be too difficult, assuming you live anywhere that's not completely a third world country, then I would say 99.9% of things that you spend money on come with a receipt. What my husband and I do is that we record everything into a simple excel spreadsheet..date, type of spending, amount. I sit down every evening and record everything (if anything, it's not like we necessarily spend money every single day). I found it easier if one person assumed the "record keeping" responsibilities and I enjoy that because I am good with excel (I am an investment banker) and it literally takes me 2min to do. Then at the end of the month I look at how we did, where we spent a lot compared to last month etc. Word of advice, make sure you use uniform categories and stick to them (as in call it either "Groceries" or "Food", but don't switch between them) because then at the end of the month you can just do a bunch of SUMIFS functions and get the totals for all your categories.

Also, I don't split out categories into very small details...as in my grocery receipts might include toothbrushes, shampoo and a bunch of other things that are not groceries, but I would find that too troublesome to record it down to such small categories and it hasn't proven to be particularly important so far.

Another vote for that methodology. One benefit I've found from actually entering the data into Excel as opposed to having something automatically import it for you is that it's enough of an extra step to be a deterrent from the "little" expenses that I used to get every day (candy bars, Starbucks).
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Mrs. Frugalwoods on December 01, 2014, 11:16:28 AM
+1 for Mint. We review our expenses line by line at the end of every month to ensure we're on track with our savings rate. Our spending is really low, so we're mostly doing it to just keep an eye on everything. Our frugal approach to life is ingrained and we're on autopilot. It's honestly pretty simple because we just don't buy very much.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: midweststache on December 01, 2014, 11:38:41 AM
+1 for YNAB. I take 5-10 min with my morning coffee to update our YNAB and check it against our online accounts (we don't use cash if we can avoid it for budgeting purposes). I don't use the phone app, since I reconcile our accounts daily.

The truth is you should just find whatever works for you and yours. I track everything (partner gives me receipts or tells me about purchases if he doesn't get a receipt) and then if we need to have a conversation about over-spending or the budget getting tight, we do. We like having one person do the budgeting/data/input aspect of our budget; that way, nothing is lost in translation.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Zikoris on December 01, 2014, 12:20:02 PM
Not married, but this living-in-sin couple also uses Mint. Everything goes on credit cards. It's just the easiest thing to do.

Completely unsolicited advice coming. From the wording it sounds like you each make a lot of purchases every day. Regardless of how you choose to budget, cutting out the gazillions of little purchases will make your life easier. We're not stellar at this ourselves and average about two transactions a day (that includes things like rent, laundry, bus fare, groceries, and bills), but much more than that and it turns into a real headache to track.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: jamal utah on December 01, 2014, 12:29:00 PM
We sit down once a month budget with Mint.com. The first time we sat down, we created the budgets of how much we wanted to spend, and agreed to follow them. Now our monthly meetings are mostly just review.

This is what we do too.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: ClaycordJCA on December 01, 2014, 11:45:28 PM
We are obviously in the minority, but we use Quicken. Not comfortable in having financial data, account balances, passwords and the like out in the web any more than necessary.   We also charge as much as possible with cash back credit cards - download the transaction and then code. Only takes a few minutes a week.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Captain and Mrs Slow on December 02, 2014, 12:24:21 AM
I second YNAB I did excel for years and it is OK but YNAB gives you a level of detail that would be very hard to do in excel. If you download the app you can enter the transaction right at the cash registrar and never bother with a receipt again. Only problem I've found is sometimes I'm slow to enter cash transactions in and I'm stuck trying to remember where I spent it.

There is a learning curve but there is a great community willing to help you figure out what you did wrong

Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: act01 on December 02, 2014, 12:47:09 AM
Mint (for charts and budgeting) and American Express. We try to put as many of our charges as possible on the credit card (for the money back - we pay off every month). Amex website has a lot of great reports and breakdowns of spending, including viewing purchases by card.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: chuckaluck on December 02, 2014, 01:13:25 AM
My wife and I have been together for nearly 35 years, and have both worked in that time.  At first, we tried to combine our incomes into one account and all the household and personal expenses would come out of it.  But that didn't work for very long because she would, for example, buy a magazine or two while in the checkout line and I would buy some tool "that I couldn't live without"--- and we would remark about the others purchase and get on each others nerves ---day after day.  Was not worth it!  What kind of evolved and still works to this day is we keep three accounts, one household along with each having a personal account.  The one that we keep close tabs on is the household account.  From that all utilities, auto maintenance/gas, food, eating out together, etc are paid.  We each pay a fixed amount each month into the household account (prorated for salary).  The fixed amounts paid in have been determined over time with a small "buffer" for times like when family are in town, and don't change much.  Honestly we got to know what was required each month by trial and error, and changed the amount significantly in a predictable way only for times like when our sons were home or one of us went back to school etc.   So we each treat what we pay into the household as a one item, a fixed cost without too much worry about whether we paid more for oil or gas this month than last.   With our personal accounts, we each give to ourselves a cash allowance at the beginning of each month that we use for lunches with friends/family, clothing, etc.   For major things like home renovations, kiddo education expenses, etc we created and fund over time side accounts, and pay cash.    These days, such expenses are paid for primarily using dividends and cap gains from our investments.  Except for a mortgage, we have never had to take out a car or education loan.  We use on a monthly basis Vanguard tools to keep track of our investments and excel spreadsheets to track our income/expenses, net worth, etc. 
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: DrSweden on December 02, 2014, 03:14:45 AM
We have a notebook at home where we write down all expenses each day. About once a week will I type on the expenses in Excel and draw a line in the notebook (to know which expenses that have been typed in). On the last date of every month we will go through our expenses, how much that has been saved and so on. We also calculate out net Worth.

This is a great way keep track ofyou expenses. I have been doing it since 2009.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: NeuroPlastic on December 02, 2014, 05:38:25 AM
I use a notebook, which my wife copies into a spreadsheet each week.  When I spend, it goes in the book.  It's much easier to read the notebook than to reconstruct events from receipts, it has no on-line security exposure, and it costs me 40 cents a year (plus ink).  I also track my mileage in it, since I'm already recording the spending.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: davisgang90 on December 02, 2014, 06:24:07 AM
I've used Mint, YNAB and for now I rely on a monthly budget in excel.  I also use it to track networth and progress on paying off debt.

I really want to use YNAB, but haven't been able to commit yet. 

On the topic of separate finances, my wife and I get an ridiculously generous "allowance" every paycheck to spend how ever we want.  All other purchases are discussed to ensure we stay mostly on track.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: goodlife on December 02, 2014, 07:21:31 AM
If you keep all the receipts, then this shouldn't be too difficult, assuming you live anywhere that's not completely a third world country, then I would say 99.9% of things that you spend money on come with a receipt. What my husband and I do is that we record everything into a simple excel spreadsheet..date, type of spending, amount. I sit down every evening and record everything (if anything, it's not like we necessarily spend money every single day). I found it easier if one person assumed the "record keeping" responsibilities and I enjoy that because I am good with excel (I am an investment banker) and it literally takes me 2min to do. Then at the end of the month I look at how we did, where we spent a lot compared to last month etc. Word of advice, make sure you use uniform categories and stick to them (as in call it either "Groceries" or "Food", but don't switch between them) because then at the end of the month you can just do a bunch of SUMIFS functions and get the totals for all your categories.

Also, I don't split out categories into very small details...as in my grocery receipts might include toothbrushes, shampoo and a bunch of other things that are not groceries, but I would find that too troublesome to record it down to such small categories and it hasn't proven to be particularly important so far.

Another vote for that methodology. One benefit I've found from actually entering the data into Excel as opposed to having something automatically import it for you is that it's enough of an extra step to be a deterrent from the "little" expenses that I used to get every day (candy bars, Starbucks).

So true...sometimes I wan't to buy something...but then I think...crap, I will have to enter that receipt...let's just not spend anything...hahaha
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: lielec11 on December 02, 2014, 07:38:54 AM
I use an excel sheet I customized from a few templates. PM if you'd like. I have it setup with 3 sheets. One sheet for my spending, one sheet for my fiance, and a sheet that aggregates both for a total.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: samburger on December 02, 2014, 07:41:22 AM
Another YNABer here.

Here's our system: We use credit cards almost exclusively (points!), so we don't mess around with receipts. Every morning I check the cards and checking account for new expenses and plug the transactions into YNAB. It takes about 5 minutes, max.

I have a master Excel spreadsheet to track our net worth, but that's just for fun.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Unique User on December 02, 2014, 11:07:56 AM
hmm, no one else uses Gnucash.  I use it to track our spending and to keep a record, although most things go on credit cards for the points.  I also have an excel spreadsheet that has our budget, investments, all other calculations  on separate tabs. 
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: jeromedawg on December 02, 2014, 11:55:22 AM
We've been using Mint for a long time now. I don't really like how they deal with adding accounts (and how at least one account always has connectivity issues all the time). Since I'm slimming down on and closing out 'orphaned' accounts though, and centralizing more, that should help alleviate the limitations there. I like Mint though because mostly everything is automated and gives a pretty accurate representation of our spending and income.

I got a good deal on YNAB (about $15 from Steam back in January) and my wife has been using that to track spending more closely. Although, she and I still get confused by YNAB as there are so many facets to how it works and also so much required in terms of manual entry (at least the way she does it). It's pretty complex for me so I don't really use it a whole lot. My wife actually kinda likes keeping on top of that stuff and doing manual entry of cash expenses etc; she uses YNAB and Mint hand-in-hand to sort of reconcile expenses, etc. I think we still need to sit down to optimize and really think through what we're doing with YNAB though. To me, it's a bit over-complicated but it seems OCD people really love it LOL!

Per a coworker, I recently just got into Personal Capital mostly for tracking investments and some cash flow at a high-level. I do like PC for investments though as they present quite a few handy charts/graphs that helps give a visual as to where you are. They also offer some limited advice (outside of actually meeting with their financial advisors) that seems pretty good according to your risk-levels, etc.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Mr.Chipper77 on December 02, 2014, 12:08:11 PM
We use mint and Personal Captial. Personally I really like Mint. and it seems very user friendly and find ourselves using personal capital less and less
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: savedough on December 02, 2014, 12:08:31 PM
I use an Excel spreadsheet and update it a couple times each month.  Less than 1% of our spending is cash, so I don't worry about where it went and just record ATM withdrawals in the cash line.   Credit cards and checking account bill pay make it easy to reconcile everything - that and neither of us are spenders.  I tried Mint, but I didnt like it and went back to Excel.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Professor Ecks on December 02, 2014, 01:27:33 PM
Just started using YNAB regularly, and it sounds like it provides exactly what you're looking for. My partner and I both have the smartphone application on our phones, and we enter transactions as they occur. YNAB updates our record in real-time, and we always know what spending we've done, and how much we have available for future purchases.

Quote
It's pretty complex for me so I don't really use it a whole lot. My wife actually kinda likes keeping on top of that stuff and doing manual entry of cash expenses etc; she uses YNAB and Mint hand-in-hand to sort of reconcile expenses, etc. I think we still need to sit down to optimize and really think through what we're doing with YNAB though. To me, it's a bit over-complicated but it seems OCD people really love it LOL!

I consider myself a fairly intellegent fellow, so I started using YNAB during the trial period without bothering to watch any of the tutorial videos, figuring I'd be able to figure it out on my own. I HATED it as a result, and stopped using the software. However, based on all the rave reviews, I gave it another shot and decided to watch the tutorials. It made a WORLD of difference. They don't offer anything earth-shattering in the videos, but just a straightforward explanation of how to use the software correctly. Imagine that, watching the instructions helps. Anyway, I suggest you give the videos a watch and you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Lizzy B. on December 02, 2014, 02:40:18 PM
We use Quicken and have for several years now. Each transaction (we rarely use cash any more) gets categorized. It has taken us a few years to fully figure out what works best for us (eg how do we deal with cash transactions, having a huge misc category, etc) but we've got a good system now. If we were starting over, I'd probably use mint since it's free.  YNAB would frustrate me by not auto downloading my transactions.  The one time $30 for Quicken isn't bad though.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Shade00 on December 02, 2014, 03:50:34 PM
We have been using an informal system of randomly checking our accounts until now - which didn't work well. We had previously tried using Mint (probably two years ago) but many of our accounts weren't able to be linked then. This month, I have managed to link all of my accounts except for one minor account that will be paid off this month. My wife and I are both smartphone users so my plan is to load Mint up on her iPhone and have her check the budget items before she makes any purchases. I think watching the green bars turn to yellow then red will help us both be more conscious of our spending and hopefully trim the fat from our budget.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Etihwdivadnai on December 03, 2014, 06:55:28 AM
I use an Excel spreadsheet and update it a couple times each month.  Less than 1% of our spending is cash, so I don't worry about where it went and just record ATM withdrawals in the cash line.   Credit cards and checking account bill pay make it easy to reconcile everything - that and neither of us are spenders.  I tried Mint, but I didnt like it and went back to Excel.

Sounds pretty similar to us. We too have settled on an Excel spreadsheet (or 2 or 3 or 4)
1) A macro-view of savings, investments, pension savings (updated once per month, takes 1/2 hour or so)
2) A what we spent on everything over the last 5 years (it really does help doing almost all spending via cards, takes about an hour per month at most once back-track was complete)
3) A forward projection assuming a not yet FIRE (i.e. one or both of us keep working)
4) A forward projection post-FIRE assuming a dynamically-specified future FIRE date

I have been maintaining (1) for more than 10 years
(In fact back to 2001 when we were theoretically capable of finishing paying our mortgage
 and we have thus been saving / investing over 50% of earnings ever since.)

My spouse started maintaining (2) starting just over 2 years ago and we back-tracked over the previous 3 years bank statements and credit card statements.
You'd be amazed how quickly past expenses end up being categorized as "miscellaneous" if you don't track the spending promptly.
Our "misc" category went way down when we tracked the spending each month.

In the last 12 months we have both been working on (3) and (4) to firm-up on a realistic FIRE date based on a SWR of 3% over a 40+ year retirement
based on a cost-of-living-adjusted annual spending derived as an average over the last 5 years
(which included a pretty representative collection of "one-off" spends).

We were looking at sometime *before* May 2015, ideally in April 2015,
but the little "wrinkle" of my being made redundant / laid-off a little over a week ago might push that target out a little,
but probably not by much because my spouse is still working and earning more than our expenses.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Spork on December 03, 2014, 07:44:21 AM

This seems to be a bit of a FAQ.

We use gnucash ... with a huge pile of home-built back-end processing for graphs of every conceivable angle.  (Or at least: every angle I can conceive of...)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: GuitarJim on December 03, 2014, 08:05:05 AM
+1 for Quicken.  Not married, but living together for 25 years (won't get married until tax laws change).

Used to use spreadsheets.  Just started using Quicken a couple of months ago and it's dead easy.  I imagine Mint is about the same.  Use credit cards for as much as possible so everything downloads automatically and I just need to correct categories.  Saves me tons of time entering data.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: DoingMe on December 03, 2014, 08:54:05 AM
+1 for Quicken.  Married for nearly 35 years.  For a time we were both employed by others.  Then for a while we ran our own company (though the company's books were done in QuickBooks).  Now we have retired.

Originally, we used a product called "Managing Your Money," but it went away and we migrated to Quicken (primarily because it was the only product that had a migration tool from MYM).  We've been tracking EVERYTHING for many, many years.  While it is difficult for someone who has used a tool "forever" to remember how difficult it was to get started, I like that Quicken deals with money the way we deal with money (i.e., write a check, transfer funds between accounts, use a credit card, etc.)  Everything gets categorized so you can compare what is happening in those categories to what you have budgeted.  It's easy to see what transactions went into a particular category as well.

Better yet, it handles all your financial data (budgeting/spending, investments, loans ... even ones we have written to others).  It comes with many tools to help you look at budget/spending or investments.  Net worth is as simple as clicking on a button and Quicken goes out to find the current prices of stocks/mutual funds/etc.  Best of all, none of this is "in the cloud" (don't trust data out there ... disk space, including backups, is cheap and more secure).

Not having used mint or YNAB, perhaps these tools do all that too.  Best of luck finding what works for you.
--
Wayne.

Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: catccc on December 03, 2014, 09:32:46 AM
I consider myself a fairly intellegent fellow, so I started using YNAB during the trial period without bothering to watch any of the tutorial videos, figuring I'd be able to figure it out on my own. I HATED it as a result, and stopped using the software. However, based on all the rave reviews, I gave it another shot and decided to watch the tutorials. It made a WORLD of difference. They don't offer anything earth-shattering in the videos, but just a straightforward explanation of how to use the software correctly. Imagine that, watching the instructions helps. Anyway, I suggest you give the videos a watch and you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Ditto this.  Well, I didn't hate it, and it makes enough sense right off the bat, but if you take the time to learn the nuances, it is really an excellent budgeting tool.  It took a few months for me to figure out the best way for me to use it.  It is flexible, I bet I could compare notes with another YNABer and we would find lots of differences in how we use the accounts.  It makes a lot of sense to me since I am familiar with double entry bookkeeping.  I even have "intercompany" budget categories for things that are owed to other entities, like my biz or DH's biz, or work expenses that I'm going to be reimbursed for.  Anyway, YNAB is definitely an "it's what you make of it" kinda software.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: BlueMR2 on December 03, 2014, 09:53:27 AM
We bring home the various receipts.  If the computer is on, we'll go ahead and log them in our spreadsheet.  If it's not, we have some old scraps of paper we write them on until the next time we have a computer running.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: lifejoy on December 03, 2014, 10:04:21 AM

We sit down once a month budget with Mint.com. The first time we sat down, we created the budgets of how much we wanted to spend, and agreed to follow them. Now our monthly meetings are mostly just review.

+1

Mint is changing our lives!

But in the past we budgeted with money envelopes, which was inconvenient but still habit changing :)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Professor Ecks on December 03, 2014, 10:38:21 AM
Quote
Ditto this.  Well, I didn't hate it, and it makes enough sense right off the bat, but if you take the time to learn the nuances, it is really an excellent budgeting tool.

My problem with YNAB is that I started out trying to budget for a full month with money I didn't have on-hand yet, which really messed me up. The software IS straightforward and easy to use, I was just coming at it with the wrong mindset. I love it now though.

Hmm, is it weird to profess love for budgeting software?
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: MrsSmitty on December 04, 2014, 12:13:32 PM
We (I) track our spending in YNAB. We don't use cash for anything so I just log into all our accounts online every few days to log transactions in YNAB. The only thing I don't have access to directly is my husband's credit card he uses for personal expenses. He pays it out of the joint checking though so I see how much he's charged. I find this method easier than keeping receipts. But we don't have many transactions and I have a pretty good memory for what we buy so that helps. If you log in and see $100 at Target 3 days ago and have no idea what that was for, receipts may be a better way to go.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: FarmerPete on December 04, 2014, 02:50:45 PM
We use YNAB.  I find the lack of automation helps cut down spending.  If it auto downloaded and categorized like Mint does, I'd hardly ever open it.  Opening it every few days keeps things in check.  I'm constantly seeing things that I would have missed with our old system.

The trick to YNAB is to be fully buffered when you start.  That's hard for most people, but I imagine most of the readers here would easily be able to be buffered.  Living off last month's income makes budgeting a month at a time crazy easy and effective.  I don't like how it handles transfers to brokerages.  I don't want my brokerage to be "On Budget", because I would hate to have to expense market moves.  If I transfer money out of my budget to put it into my brokerage, YNAB treats it like an expense.  That's fine, until you get to reports.  Our regular budget is ~$3500 a month.  In September, I decided to move my entire emergency fund into my brokerage.  Now my report shows an income of ~$4k in Sep, but that I spent ~15k.  I can exclude that category, but that doesn't look right either.  Stupid reporting.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: arebelspy on December 04, 2014, 03:38:39 PM
Mint.

We don't budget, we just view spending later.

YNAB is what I'd recommend for someone looking to budget.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: senecando on December 04, 2014, 03:53:59 PM
We use YNAB.  I find the lack of automation helps cut down spending.  If it auto downloaded and categorized like Mint does, I'd hardly ever open it.  Opening it every few days keeps things in check.  I'm constantly seeing things that I would have missed with our old system.

The trick to YNAB is to be fully buffered when you start.  That's hard for most people, but I imagine most of the readers here would easily be able to be buffered.  Living off last month's income makes budgeting a month at a time crazy easy and effective.  I don't like how it handles transfers to brokerages.  I don't want my brokerage to be "On Budget", because I would hate to have to expense market moves.  If I transfer money out of my budget to put it into my brokerage, YNAB treats it like an expense.  That's fine, until you get to reports.  Our regular budget is ~$3500 a month.  In September, I decided to move my entire emergency fund into my brokerage.  Now my report shows an income of ~$4k in Sep, but that I spent ~15k.  I can exclude that category, but that doesn't look right either.  Stupid reporting.

I have a master category of budgets for savings and expense, and use all the reporting tools with that group unselected. That works pretty well. Sort of an annoying hack though.

Edit: Totally misread the last few sentences. What doesn't look right?
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: davisgang90 on December 05, 2014, 04:55:41 AM
Quote
Hmm, is it weird to profess love for budgeting software?

Not on this forum.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Dodge on December 05, 2014, 10:24:41 PM
I consider myself a fairly intellegent fellow, so I started using YNAB during the trial period without bothering to watch any of the tutorial videos, figuring I'd be able to figure it out on my own. I HATED it as a result, and stopped using the software. However, based on all the rave reviews, I gave it another shot and decided to watch the tutorials. It made a WORLD of difference. They don't offer anything earth-shattering in the videos, but just a straightforward explanation of how to use the software correctly. Imagine that, watching the instructions helps. Anyway, I suggest you give the videos a watch and you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.

This post got me back into YNAB, and I'm LOVING IT!!!  Like you, I tried the trial a while back, didn't see what the big fuss was about, and immediately deleted it in favor of Mint.  "You mean I have to add all the transactions manually?!  No thanks."  After reading your story, I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if that's why it didn't *click* with me?".  I immediately watched the videos, attended a free Webinar (http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/training-and-education), and now I'm hooked!  It makes so much sense now.  My wife and I have already switched from Mint, and are quite excited about it!  We've completely rethought how we think about money, and budgeting...which is quite the revelation to me, considering how much time I spend reading Mrmoneymustache, and posting both here and on Bogleheads.  I thought I knew everything :-P

For anyone else wondering about YNAB, here's a link to the video tutorials we're talking about:

http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/video/getting-started-with-three-simple-steps

Thank you Professor Ecks!!
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Kmp2 on December 05, 2014, 10:52:11 PM
We charge all daily expenses to a credit joint credit card, all fixed expenses come out of the same joint account. We transfer a fixed amount from each of up accounts to the joint a account each month. That is our budget. I just check once a month to make sure our credit card can be paid in full from the joint account. If it can't I review why... Sometimes it is a major purchase/vacation/repair that should probably be from savings... Otherwise we discuss and spend less the following month.

If I need my type a details I use mint, but that is only every couple of months or so.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Spoom on December 05, 2014, 11:33:27 PM
Mint (http://www.mint.com/).  It's not perfect, but it's a game changer.  (And it's free!)  Worth the price of admission for the Trends pie chart alone.

If you're worried about giving it all your banking passwords, I'd suggest using LastPass (https://lastpass.com/) and changing all passwords to something random and secure in order to minimize your risk.

Mint does have some (semi-automatic) budgeting tools; like everything else, they're not perfect, but they're there.  Haven't tried YNAB.

Edit: Oh, a nice tip I use for our cash back credit card: I keep a spare, linked savings account available (called "Reserve").  Every few days, I transfer enough over from the checking account such that the balance of the Reserve equals the balance of the credit card.  Sometimes I'll pay down the card early so that my credit usage ratio isn't higher than 10%.  Other than that, I'll wait until we get the statement, and then just dump the statement amount from Reserve into the credit card.  That way, I don't have to mentally subtract the credit card balance from my main checking account, so we always know we can pay the full statement amount.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Dodge on December 05, 2014, 11:43:22 PM
Mint (http://www.mint.com/).  It's not perfect, but it's a game changer.  (And it's free!)  Worth the price of admission for the Trends pie chart alone.

If you're worried about giving it all your banking passwords, I'd suggest using LastPass (https://lastpass.com/) and changing all passwords to something random and secure in order to minimize your risk.

Mint does have some (semi-automatic) budgeting tools; like everything else, they're not perfect, but they're there.  Haven't tried YNAB.

+1 for LastPass (https://lastpass.com/).  You should use that even if you don't use Mint :)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: gooki on December 07, 2014, 12:44:04 AM
I haven't read all the replies but this is what works for us.

1. Joint checking account where all income is deposited, from there we pay our future selves (redirect a targeted amount into savings/investments), and then all joint expenses come out (food, utilities, property taxes etc).

2. Individual checking accounts that receive a weekly allowance from the joint account. This has ranged from $40 - $75 a week each. All personal expenses come out of here (entertainment, clothing, hair/personal grooming, hobbies, lunch or coffe with friends etc).

The rule here is there is zero judgement on each other's spending from our personal accounts. On the joint account as much as possible is discussed and agreed upon prior to spending

This works for us, as you have personal freedom over a modest amount of money, and then two factor authentication of the bulk of the money. With the added benefit of no budgeting, or expense tracking required.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: zolotiyeruki on December 07, 2014, 09:09:08 PM
We pay for everything with credit cards.  My wife then keeps a paper ledger which she updates (ideally weekly).  The ledger has columns along the top for each category, and transactions down the left hand side.  Yes, we could do it electronically or automatically, but there's something really nice about being able to open a paper ledger and see everything at a glance.
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Happy Little Chipmunk on December 07, 2014, 10:44:41 PM
We've been using Mint for almost exactly two years. And then I started following MMM exactly a year later. That one-two combo has been an incredibly positive thing for us.

When I was a kid, I tracked my money very closely...but I allowed the busy-ness of adult life and kids of my own to distract me. I'm glad to be back on track.

For the first half of our relationship (before kids) we had separate personal checking accounts and a joint one for joint expenses. Then after a move, we simplified to one joint account but we left our personal investment accounts separate. Now we're updating our estate plans and are finally merging all our finances.

I guess after knowing this person for 33 years (together for 25) I'm finally ready to really commit! ;-)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: Spoom on December 08, 2014, 03:44:26 PM
Ha, I love all these stories of separate bank accounts for personal transactions and joint bank accounts for joint transactions and whatnot.

I came to the US on a K-1 visa.  We had no choice but to combine everything, the government requires it!

(Admittedly though, I keep a Canadian bank account to pay Canadian bills that can't be easily paid from the US, like my student loan.)
Title: Re: Married couples what do you use to track your spending?
Post by: homehandymum on December 08, 2014, 05:43:52 PM
We've gone through different phases of financial tracking.

When we needed to turn on a desk-top computer to input stuff into a spreadsheet, we found it to be too hard to maintain beyond a month or two, and writing things on paper on the fridge to add to the spreadsheet later didn't work so well.  But we maintained it for long enough to get a handle on what we spend and how, and to set our 'normal' to something that works.

For years now we've just been keeping an eye on the balances to make sure they're trending in the right direction.  If something looks odd, we'll look more closely at the month's statements.  Oh, and we buy very little with cash - aside from a few standing weekly payments (like DH's sports subs and our straight-from-the-farmer milk purchase) it's all via our joint credit card or our joint bank account, so that makes it easier to track. 

We have an agreement to discuss any purchase over about $200, and we both have very similar values and spending patterns so neither of us takes advantage by making stupid $190 purchases on the regular, for instance.

Just recently I've downloaded a spending tracker app for my phone (MoneyWise), and I really like it.  It's not supported on multiple devices, so I just get DH to tell me when he spends cash, and ask him for details of anything that comes up on the bank accounts that I don't know about. 

I'm still working out how to get the most out of it, but the biggest plus is the ability to update everything on the fly (don't need internet access to add transactions), and I love the way it just magically makes graphs for me :)