Tracking Your Money Question
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  1. #1
    QM
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    Default Tracking Your Money Question

    I learned years ago that the best way to see where your money is going is to track every dime and penny. Just curious how you track (and what you use to track) your money. Do you use a fancy binder bought from the store? Do you use a printable off google somewhere? How often do you tally what you spend to see where your money is going?

    What are your tips for someone wanting to get on board with watching where their money is going?

    Thanks in advance!

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    I was never able to track my spending so I took the opposite approach and I tracked my savings. I do auto transfers as soon as I get paid and I save about 70% of my take home pay. My husband does something very similar. Then, I pay my portion of the bills and the rest is up for grabs. This has worked beautifully for me. It also allowed me to spend a little more on myself than what I was doing previously and given me balance. Enjoying the money I work so hard for as well as allowing myself to save for my goals of early retirement.

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    I have a binder w/ clear plastic sleeves. I make a projected monthly budget of expenses coming up and the usual ones. At the end of the month I will correct it to the actual. At the top I list income then subtract until zero. Ours is divided into 2 2 week lists because that is how we were paid.
    I run most everything through the CC online and can see everything all the time. I also use the checkbook register. I am a pen and paper gal so no spreadsheets. We dont take allowances.
    The grocery I just use a budget amt. Its like $250/2 weeks. I do save all the grocery receipts. I run the gas through the CC and total that too. Tosee projected vs. actual.
    once a year (Jan.) I make a yearly projected budget (again to zero $$)
    I have been doing this since 2009. I can tell you what I spent and on what any month. I also save the registers.
    I do NOT go around writing every penny down. We are so long past that. My budget is Anticipatory now not reactive. One of the keys is to have that $1500. E-fund set up.
    Hope any of this helps.

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    I track my spending in an old version of MS Money. I get a receipt for most everything I spend and post from the receipts and from my checking account ledger. My monthly bills are automatically paid from my checking account or a credit card and I post those to MS Money also. So, all income and outgo is kept track of in MS Money. I started doing this before you could download, so I have never done that, only posted manually.

    I do add up my total Networth on the first of every month, just to ensure my total financial picture is not fluctuating too much.

    I do have a financial binder with tabs for the 12 months of the year. I have each bill listed on the month it is due. Most are the regular monthly bills, and the the annual stuff like homeowners insurance or car registration are on the appropriate month. I pay quarterly taxes, so I know when they are due also because I have them listed as well. Birthday, Christmas tips, donations are projected and put on the page for the month it will be paid. I never miss paying anything this way.

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    I do this off and on ( more off than on) notebook and pen, columns that I add after each addition. It is a big eye opener. I am always surprised how much goes to household items, just everyday things needed here and there. Because it gets so overwhelming for me right now I am just tracking food and eating out. After that becomes second nature I will add another categories. Money for retirement is a set amount that comes out of each paycheck first thing. Then a set amount for property taxes, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance all in one combined categorie. When I say "taken out" I just mean put in a column on a different paper. We keep everything in the checking account but the total amount in our checking account is 1. Actual account balance 2. Emergency fund 3. Retirement savings ( just until put into iras) 4. Taxes and insurance 5. Spendable savings....all added together. For me the simpler the better or I won't stick with it and I like simple pen and paper.

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    I use a Quicken like computer program.

    I enter the transation in a check book like registrar in the program and tell it what catagory.

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    Well, I'm horrible at this as well, but I know it's a really good tool. So, I do all my bills on paper. I check them off as they are paid. I also do the envelope system for Gas, Food, and Entertainment. This month I am trying an app that will help me track those expenses. So far, I like it much better than pen and paper and it totals for me so I don't have to do math! It's early in the month, but so far, I really like it.

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    Mint.com.

    It requires very little work on my part. Tracks all incoming and outgoing expenses without any inputting myself. I occasionally have to adjust a category that Mint assigns to a transaction, but one or two adjustments every other month is far less work than adding in every transaction. It's available on the desktop, phone, and ipad. It also tracks investments, which isn't quite as useful but still sometimes interesting. It also provides your credit score now.

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    Now that I'm going contract in my employment and to help with my rentals I just bought Quicken. I was using excel but I do good for a while and then I quit. I hope that the mind set of it helping me to save money at tax time will help my stay on top of things. I've used Mint in the past and really liked it for keeping any eye on networth.
    2020 Goals:
    Pay off Ohio House - $621.02/$3,330.56
    Save for whole house generator - $0/$15,000 (Guess amount, no quote)
    Fully Fund all Retirement Accounts & HSA - $3,172.43/$43,000
    Save for fruit trees - $0/$1,000 (by December)
    Survive Outage - 6-12s for 3-6 months.....love the pay, hate the hours
    Save for pond....now a 2022 goal

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    I was never able to track my spending so I took the opposite approach and I tracked my savings. I do auto transfers as soon as I get paid
    This!! I don't budget my spending, I budget my savings.
    I've heard it stated as "pay yourself first".
    If you spend your budgeted amount first - and than save what's left at the end of the month, you'll find that there is seldom anything left., ie, you'll be living paycheck-to-paycheck forever. (I'm in my 70's, retired, I feel that this has a lot to do with wealth.)

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    I don't do this very often - now and then for two or three months then it gets to be just too much. When I do, I use a computer program. I used the old MS Money, but it won't run on my new computer. I have used You Need a Budget (a good program) and now have Ace, though I am not currently using it. I found spreadsheets were a pain if it involved transferring money from one place to another, like checking to a savings account. A money management program will do the other end of the entry automatically. Pencil and paper is just too much math - it took too long and was prone to more errors.

    I become very obsessive over it if I try to set categories, though I know that there are times that is necessary, and it's a good check now and then. I basically have two categories - bills and a global amount I can spend. I'm retiring in a few months and will be moving so all the "business as usual" expenses will be changing, so I will probably track for a while then until I get a feel for what new normal will be.

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    I'm late to this party

    First I budget how I want to spend my money, then I track, and adjust the budget as needed. I find this two step process much more effective than simply recording history. YNAB (You Need A Budget) software is my tool of choice. I started using it about three years ago. I have used many different money management software applications and IMHO this one is the best for effective management of day to day spending.

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