Author Topic: How do you track your spending?  (Read 9598 times)

pudding

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How do you track your spending?
« on: July 31, 2016, 04:07:08 PM »
How do you all track your spending?

I've tried YNAB (you need a budget) software a while back. I don't think it's going to work for me though.... I just don't have that kind of mindset to move this from that category to this and after a while I fall off it.

For most my life I've just kind of had a bit of a vague idea of what Im spending and in what category.... at the moment its the same thing. I can earn good money but its hard  hard work!  and the rest of life takes a back seat as most energy is expended on working construction.

I figure if I live frugally I can work only 3 days a week, and I like that, I like working three days and 4 days off.... for me its a great way to live.

But I'd have to know where my money is going, otherwise I could easily run over budget.

Amazingly, without tracking spending most my life I don't owe anything at this time in life.... so it has sort of worked out for me this winging it approach...

naeshelle

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 04:20:16 PM »
You just reminded me to delete my YNAB account before I accidentally get charged for something I never use (again).

I've tried a bunch of different budget-tracking software at other's behest -- the only thing that's ever worked out for me consistently was a pen and a piece of paper.

I collect a receipt for everything that I buy and take it home and at the end of the night (or week or however you want to do it) I copy down the amounts of everything I've spent into a little notebook. I also like to keep track of whether or not I used a card or cash -- if I used a card to pay for something, I write down how much I intended to spend (restaurants around here are notorious for rounding bills + tips up to the nearest dollar or so) and wait until my account says it's processed before I put a little star next to it, marking it as "final."

I suppose now that I'm super serious about saving money, I'll add a column to keep a running tally of whether or not I'm over/under my budget.

gggggg

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2016, 04:36:50 PM »
I use mint and personal capital. I use the two, because sometimes one is down or acting screwy. They are't true budget apps/sites like ynab or everydollar, but they are close enough that I can keep an eye on everything.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2016, 05:03:58 PM »
We have always just used a running Excel sheet for the past 17 years, and before that I used to do it on paper the same way since I moved out of my parents' house (I hated the constant re-writing so got into Excel). 

It is a long list of dated income minus outgo, it is a de-facto running record that I have projected out to 2020 so in that way it is a budget.  Any excess before the next payday gets saved since I can see the expected future expenses and know if there is any risk of shortfall.  I can go back to 2001 any time to see what we had in savings and what our old house payment was.  I can grab any particular year and pull it into another sheet for sorting by category to figure expenses.  It works for us and we have given him a name.  We talk about him like a person, as in, "Does Dodd say we have any money?" or "Dodd says we should have X on hand in cash by the end of the year."  He is our financial adviser.   

We use Quicken to track investments and net worth because it does automatic price updates but we don't budget with it.  We don't download any of our investing information to it automatically, I prefer to do it manually.  Updates for prices are the only automatic feature we use.   

The NW number from Quicken goes on the side of Dodd and is also projected out into the future based on the historical increase in NW for the last 12 of those 17 years.  Average annual/monthly/weekly/daily increase in NW is tracked by % and $.  Yes, I have tracked our daily average increase in NW for all these years. 

Physicsteacher

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2016, 07:26:08 PM »
I use PearBudget in Google Sheets. I could kludge together a spreadsheet of my own that would be functional, but this meets all of our needs and is free so why bother? PearBudget works in Excel as well, but keeping the spreadsheet in the cloud makes it easy for both members of our two person household to update it wherever we may be. If you want to check it out, it's available at https://pearbudget.com/spreadsheet.

Sailor Sam

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2016, 08:09:30 PM »
Spreadsheet. I started in 2010 as just a list, to make sure I didn't overdraw the checking account. It's evolved over the years, and now looks like the picture below. I make a new tab for each paycheck, and I balance spending across the month




I like the spreadsheet approach, because it does exactly what I need it to do, without extraneous fripperies cluttering things up. I 'ent fond of clutter.

NorCal

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2016, 08:20:06 PM »
I'm a huge fan of Quicken.  It's more robust than most need, but it is well worth the money.

I had some bad experiences with Mint.  More specifically, Mint kept losing its connection to my bank, and the only way to fix it was to delete my entire spending history on those accounts.  That's pretty worthless if you want to track your spending history.

ender

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 11:02:09 AM »
YNAB app tracks most spending on a monthly basis.

Every month, this gets reconciled to a spreadsheet we use to track our entire monthly cashflow.

The monthly spreadsheet also includes some one-off things (like tuition, property taxes, etc) and lets us plan on a yearly basis, showing total savings, etc.


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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 12:17:54 PM »
Hmm... how do I describe the process..

-Look at checking account -> Oh no! Why is my balance so high!? -> Transfer to investment account!
-Look at CC accounts -> Well this one is still zero... -> Buy a thing!

Naturally, necessities will be bought regardless, just use the card that gets the most reward out of it.
It's a lizard brain system for sure, not much fore-planning involved.. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what extra things I want to buy..

bebegirl

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2016, 02:23:20 PM »
Oh, just really simple Excel spreadsheet. Did you know that you can actually download your transactions into Excel spreadsheet from Bank of America online banking?

Generally each month the columns in my spreadsheet are the same: rent, insurance, phone bill, gas, shopping, medical, savings etc.

It is a bit manual job but it takes several minutes to fill out and then see how much I spent and how much I am left with.


stoaX

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2016, 02:29:26 PM »
Like a few others on this thread I use a simple excel spreadsheet.  I like setting it up the way I want and knowing exactly how it works and the ability to play "what if" with it.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2016, 03:19:27 PM »
We use a spreadsheet too.
I take my card statements and total up the categories, then enter them on the spreadsheet. We also check Mint every few days to make sure weird charges aren't showing up to indicate any fraudulent activity.

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Inaya

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2016, 03:37:41 PM »
I use Mint. Every so often they'll lose a connection with one of my banks, but they get it going again in less than a week generally. My "budget" is more along the lines of a total amount I'm allowed to spend each month (regardless of category), so I really like the flexibility in Mint's budgeting tool--can update categories on the fly. Spent too much on groceries? Well I'll just reduce the eating out budget for the rest of the month. Plus I check it almost every day, so I'm more likely to catch fraud early.
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2016, 04:17:16 PM »
I use a Google Drive spreadsheet, much like one would use a pen and paper transaction register.  I also have tabs that calculate the mortgage principal and interest, how long until payoff, and so on, which is cool.  I can also share it with my spouse, so he can input things.

kitkat

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2016, 05:17:04 PM »
My solution is very similar to Sailor Sam above... Like, eerily similar!

I didn't like Mint because I felt like the categorization wasn't working for me, especially with convoluted expenses like "I paid the parking fee so so-and-so picked up my drink then I bought everyone dinner but so-and-so gave me a $20". Just entering *my* expense line by line in a spreadsheet is so much easier than trying to make my "transactions" line up with reality.

I also didn't like how there was a lag in Mint re: pending charges, and I didn't have a nice way of tracking how much money I *actually* had floating around e.g. "roommate A hasn't paid me for his share of electricity yet" or "oh, I have that extra $100 concert ticket I still need to sell". Having my own spreadsheet where I track (1) spending and (2) balances on my own terms is way easier.

It sounds tedious, but once I got my sheet formatted in a way that worked for me (took many months of occasional tweaking, and I must admit I enjoy 'geeking out' over spreadsheets) the time investment is extremely small -- simply entering in purchases every day or two (either through Sheets app on my phone or on my computer when I get to work) and checking cc/bank/venmo/etc balances to make sure everything is still lining up.

aaron3719

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2016, 07:43:33 AM »
I use my own spreadsheet. Don't really like Mint that much since they ask for too much info. not really comfortable
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2016, 08:15:51 AM »
If you set an acceptable 'budget' and rarely exceed it - no need to track, really.

If you wish to cut down expenses, tracking can show you where your money goes. I would just use an excel sheet - this is what I did when I tracked my remodel expenses, just to see what it cost me. I never worry about 'budgeting' though.
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2016, 10:42:01 AM »
I dont meticulously track all expenses every single month. Every few months, however, I will track expenses to ensure I am still on target by exporting my banking transactions to Excel and sorting the data based on category. Quite easy actually, no cost, but it cant account for cash transactions which I try to keep to a minimum (zero if possible).

2Birds1Stone

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2016, 10:46:42 AM »
Excel sheet

HipGnosis

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2016, 12:23:09 PM »
I buy everything I can on 5 credit cards, which are used for the categories they give bonus/rewards for.
The credit card bills are automatic records of my spending.  For unusual expenses, I'll write on the bill what was bought (or service paid for). 
Bills like mortgage, utilities and the credit cards are paid from my checking account online.  My check 'book' (register) has been a spreadsheet for many years. I have a sheet that is a template for making (copying) a new sheet for ea year.
I also use the computer to track/log substantial vehicle and home expenses.  What, where, when, who's, how much...

mizzourah2006

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2016, 11:49:49 AM »
I use an excel sheet I built. I have a sheet where I I put in expenses and categorize them and it moves over to the larger sheet which has a table. It aligns an aggregate of each category to the right and what I have budgeted for said category to the left for comparison purposes.

Tiger Stache

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2016, 12:20:35 PM »
i use an Excel sheet i built and Mint.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2016, 12:22:02 PM »
I track our spending by the size of our index fund holdings.
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2016, 11:19:39 PM »
Over 90% of our spending is on one credit card. We just look at the statement every month, and compare that to what is in checking and my pay stubs.
Occasional spending, like property tax, goes in the checkbook.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2016, 11:39:11 AM »
Each year, I build an Excel spreadsheet with multiple tabs. The first tab is my financial plan for the year - what I will save each month and what priorities it will be directed to (mapped out by January 1st each year). The second tab is a summary of actual results for the entire year, including my income/spending/saving and running savings rate for the year. After this, there is a tab for each month with a detailed monthly budget that feeds information into the first two tabs. It works very well and takes 30 minutes a week to update - but with that time investment, I know where every penny goes and can calibrate very finely. It also allows me to respond nimbly when I need to make adjustments.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 11:41:05 AM by DividendLuvr »

tj

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2016, 08:14:10 PM »
LearnVest recently instituted a 15 account max for free aggregation, so I ma now using Mint.


I use PersonalCapital to aggregate my investments.
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Freedomin5

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2016, 08:11:07 AM »
Man, I'm really backwards...each week I take out a set amount of cash. I also set aside the amount needed for recurring bills. The rest gets put in investments.

I then spend the cash portion throughout the week. By looking in my wallet I can tell whether I've been "overspending" or "underspending" for the week.

It's like an extremely simple version of the envelope system.

icemodeled

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2016, 12:56:14 PM »
I guess I'm old fashioned because I just save all receipts from the month and bills. I have a file folder with each month labeled and I'll throw everything inside for the month. If I spend cash and not get a receipt I'll made a note and stick that inside there to. I will go through it a few times during the month and at the end add everything up and see what we spent vs made. I do enter the numbers on my phones excel app to track it longer term. I use personal capital but only to see all our accounts together, not really to track expenses.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2016, 07:03:38 AM »
Pencil and notebook. There are some things I track on simple spreadsheets too.

DailyGrindFree

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2016, 09:44:48 PM »
I use PersonalCapital to aggregate my investments and excel for expenses.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2016, 09:48:43 AM »
YNAB4!

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2016, 01:10:54 PM »
I use Mint.com because it automatically and easily categorizes our gas, grocery, and other purchases.  Then at the end of the month I input the numbers into a 1 page Excel sheet. 
The one I've used for past couple years is this one:
http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/personal-monthly-budget.html

There are many basic Excel templates online if you search.  I changed the template a bit to remove unnecessary categories. 

Best of all its free! 
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lthenderson

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2016, 01:33:23 PM »
I track our spending by the size of our index fund holdings.

After trying many times to track spending, I too have gone to just tracking savings. Spending less money has never been a goal of mine but saving more money has. Tracking how much I save directly tracks with my life goal of saving money. I also find that the more focused on saving money easily translates into less spending but not necessarily the other way around. To track savings, I use a simple Excel spreadsheet that I update once a month and takes about five minutes a month to do. That in itself is another benefit over tracking spending which I can easily sink hours per month into.

momcpa

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2016, 11:44:23 AM »
I've used Quicken for probably 20 years or more.  I never update the Quicken version when it says a new one has come out........and now I'm afraid to as I'm pretty sure it wouldn't 'translate' from the old-old-old version I use very well.  Might have to do it in steps, and even then I'm afraid it would mess up somehow.

So I just keep using the version I have.  I like the number of reports you can generate and the option to change parameters of those reports.  It is interesting to run a report from 10 or 15 years ago and see how much balances have changed over time !!!!!!!!!

BlueHouse

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2016, 10:44:46 AM »
I've used Quicken for probably 20 years or more.  I never update the Quicken version when it says a new one has come out........and now I'm afraid to as I'm pretty sure it wouldn't 'translate' from the old-old-old version I use very well.  Might have to do it in steps, and even then I'm afraid it would mess up somehow.

So I just keep using the version I have.  I like the number of reports you can generate and the option to change parameters of those reports.  It is interesting to run a report from 10 or 15 years ago and see how much balances have changed over time !!!!!!!!!
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When I moved to Quicken for Mac, I deleted hundreds of budget and spending categories and have been whittling it down ever since. 
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2016, 03:24:04 PM »
I've always used the attached spreadsheet that I downloaded from Suze Orman's web site.

It does the math for me and I just update it every once in a while or if something big changes.

There are many rows for different types of expenditure, you can just delete the ones that don't apply.

Metric Mouse

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #36 on: October 26, 2016, 08:15:29 PM »
I've always used the attached spreadsheet that I downloaded from Suze Orman's web site.

It does the math for me and I just update it every once in a while or if something big changes.

There are many rows for different types of expenditure, you can just delete the ones that don't apply.

Thank you for sharing this! I can't wait to play around with it.
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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2016, 04:32:04 PM »
Man, I'm really backwards...each week I take out a set amount of cash. I also set aside the amount needed for recurring bills. The rest gets put in investments.

I then spend the cash portion throughout the week. By looking in my wallet I can tell whether I've been "overspending" or "underspending" for the week.

It's like an extremely simple version of the envelope system.

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Only difference is I track monthly totals/balances on excel with occasional months where everything gets entered into excel.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2016, 05:21:16 PM »
I use mint and personal capital. I use the two, because sometimes one is down or acting screwy. They are't true budget apps/sites like ynab or everydollar, but they are close enough that I can keep an eye on everything.

^This. Although it's not a zero based budget, Mint does let you set a dollar limit and warns you when you're close. Also I've got my bills recurring to the point where I know exactly how much I owe per bill and pay half every pay day.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #39 on: November 13, 2016, 11:38:39 PM »
I first used my own excel spread sheets. Then I really liked mint. I tried YNAB and it didn't work for me because only 50% of my accounts would load. I told them about it and they just said to upload everything manually that doesn't automatically load. The argument is that it works better if you manually enter it. Ok, then what I am paying for? I'm thinking of doing my own excel spread sheets again, but I like mint for big picture stuff like net worth.
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Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #40 on: November 14, 2016, 12:35:48 AM »
My bank has a module that can show me where my electronic money has gone. I often need to help them categorizing some of the transactions, but I do that from time to time. When finished, it is showing how many % of my money is spent on food from grocery store, fast food, petrol, owning a car, house expenses, holiday travel, savings, etc. It is quite detailed with many categories. Maybe you can find a bank that can offer something similar?

I recommend in general to pay by card instead of cash (if you can do that for free). Then at least you will be able to watch in your bank transactions how you have spent it. And maybe make adjustments for the next month. Cash transactions are untraceable.

ReadingLearner

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2016, 03:02:39 PM »
We downloaded a budget sheet from Canadian Budget Binder and log our expenses in there. So, each time we purchase something we keep the receipt.

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CloserToFree

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #43 on: December 05, 2016, 03:45:14 PM »
My approach also is similar to Sailor Sam's above.  I use credit or debit cards to pay for almost everything, and use Mint to track our spending and investment balances.  I would prefer to just use Mint but haven't figured out a good way to separate his cards/spending from mine, and I'm mostly interested in the latter (he pays more of the fixed expenses whereas my spending tends to include more discretionary stuff, which is what I'm trying to keep close tabs on).  My process is a little cumbersome but it works for me so far. At month end, I do this:
1. I export the transactions for each of the credit cards I use regularly (in total about 4-5, including my check card/checking account, an Amazon card, and a couple other points-driven cards) from Mint into an Excel spreadsheet.
2. In the Excel sheet, I delete some extraneous columns and re-order others as follows: date, description, category, amount, notes, account name (which credit card), transaction type (debit or credit).
3. I copy rows for the relevant month into a new monthly tab in a Google drive spreadsheet.
4. I add up all the spending and copy the grand total into an "overview" tab in the Google spreadsheet, so I can see how this month's spending stacks up with previous months.

Would love tips and tricks from others if I'm missing a way to do similar tracking in Mint itself, only for my cards (not my husband's).  Overall though I find this more manual approach helps keep me accountable because I do look at every line item in a given month.

zazpowered

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #44 on: December 10, 2016, 12:52:20 PM »
I used to use Mint but found it too complicated and categorization would be off. I now use an app called ProsperDaily. Categorization is still off but at least it's nice and simple. I think excel would be too much for me.

Ynari

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #45 on: December 10, 2016, 08:44:09 PM »
USAA has a money tracker feature, as well as a budgeting feature, and you can import transactions from other banks if you're spread out. The budgeting feature is a little odd (for my use), but it's a nice at-a-glance feature. I just go in about once a month, check that things are as they should be, and move on. End of the year I can check the full year of transactions and see how things averaged.

Before SO and I combined finances, and had more irregular expenses, we used a google spreadsheet. Now I just like how easy it is to track without doing any extra work or logging into a new website.

katscratch

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2016, 08:52:16 PM »
I do use YNAB but it took a couple years to dial in the categories I actually want to track.  I primarily use the app to record purchases then just reconcile biweekly. 

In the past I've used paper and also attempted a spreadsheet a few times.... I do not have an engineer or programmer's mind so I find the nice clean colorful nature of YNAB with its charts and graphs suits me better :)
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Spork

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #47 on: December 15, 2016, 11:05:34 AM »
Obligatory recommendation for gnucash...  We've used it since late 1990s/early 2000s.  I've also got a metric crap ton of post processing that runs and spits out graphs/statistics/etc.
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RWD

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #48 on: December 15, 2016, 11:22:27 AM »
Obligatory recommendation for gnucash...

I'll second that.

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Re: How do you track your spending?
« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2018, 06:19:27 AM »
Resurrecting this old thread... sorry...

DW and I have been using Goodbudget.com for the last 3 years, and it's been really great. It's basically an electronic envelope system, super simple, and inexpensive (~$4/mo.).