How do you track your finances?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Traveler
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Traveler » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:02 pm

Budget items in excel that contains the last ten or so years of pretty detailed information. It helped me realize last week that I'm coming in this year under budget so I made another charitable donation to make up some of the difference.

lhl12
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by lhl12 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:34 pm

I started with "Managing Your Money by Andrew Tobias", a quirky DOS-based program that I always had a soft spot for.

When MYM eventually died because it never transitioned successfully to Windows, I switched to Microsoft Money. Again, a little quirky but did a great job and I was happy with it. When Microsoft decided to stop further development on MS Money, I transitioned to QuickBooks Enterprise.

QBE is great - very powerful and customizable, but requires a real investment of time and energy to learn and fully configure properly. Now that I have it set up the way I want it, I love it, although it's probably overkill for most.

j0nnyg1984
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by j0nnyg1984 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:07 am

I really don't. Twice a year I log into all of my accounts, make a tally in notepad, then transfer everything over to a blank excel worksheet to do the math on required changes to maintain asset allocation.

pasadena
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by pasadena » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:27 am

I use YNAB for budget and expense tracking. Excel for my portfolio and a few other things. Personal Capital for pretty graphs and one-stop overview.

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rustymutt
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by rustymutt » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:33 am

FiveK wrote:Quicken, for >20 years.

It has its problems, but works well enough for us.
Same here. It does have some issues. Mint scares me also.
I'm amazed at the wealth of Knowledge others gather, and share over a lifetime of learning. The mind is truly unique. It's nice when we use it!

ubermax
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by ubermax » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:17 am

I used Excel to create primarily four spreadsheets :
(1) a monthly budget sheet
(2) a sheet that ties/matches to our Vanguard accounts and also shows a net worth amount ; it also has a section that I use to layout the steps/moves for occasional rebalancing
(3) a set of sheets that I use to determine the approximate tax impact of various withdrawals from tax sheltered accounts .

Have never used anything but Excel for quite some time ; Lotus before that and Ouija Board before that :happy

chrisdds98
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by chrisdds98 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:24 am

corner559 wrote:I used MS Money until they stopped making it and now just track all my expenses, asset allocation, etc. in Excel in sheets I've customized for myself.
I still use MS Money (hope that CD never breaks!). I use quickbooks for my business and MS Money is much easier to use for personal accounts.

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Just sayin...
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Just sayin... » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:11 pm

I have used various versions of Quicken ever since MYM went away. I literally have >100 categories, all stock/bond transactions I've ever made, and have been able to create excellent reports to understand actual spending patterns in preparation for retirement. All that said, it is a black hole for time. I'm in the process of creating an Excel spreadsheet that is sort of like a YNAB-lite, with only 14 categories. I plan to run both in parallel through 2017 (retirement date set for Jun 30), then completely switch over starting Jan 1, 2018. Benefits include simplification and time-savings, no requisite upgrade cycle, as well as being platform-agnostic (iPad, Mac, PC, etc). I can run and access it anywhere. Downsides include a far less granular view of spending, more up-front work on my part, and loss of banking and investment integration. Since this is a work-in-progress, I can't yet say how it will work out...

nofacetimber
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by nofacetimber » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:40 pm

I have been looking for an opportunity to share something I have been working on the past couple months, and it relates to tracking finances so thought this would be a good time to share.

Me and wife have always been quite deliberate with our finances, but never consistent with budgeting. When starting with Excel or other budgeting software we seem to do pretty good for the first couple of months but ended up dropping the ball, I guess we just don't always have the will to take the time and effort needed to track everything.

In September I started tracking our net worth (Debts/Assets) in Google Docs (Wish I would have started earlier!). I found it is lot easier and funner for us to stay on top of tracking our net worth. Focusing mainly on KEY assets and debts, I can get an idea of how much progress and momentum we are building.

After a couple months I wanted to see some graphs depicting net worth over time, I also thought it would be nice to have a way to privately share my Net Worth graph and Asset/Debt allocation with others online.

I am a Web Developer by trade and knew it would be fun, so I started building an open source project for our monthly net worth tracking and sharing, but it's something others can use too. If anyone is interested in trying it out, I would greatly appreciate some feedback.

I am hoping a handful of you would be willing to help out as beta users, you will receive a special medal on your profile distinguishing you as a beta user as a token of my thanks. There are plans in the near future to add some gamification to the product, such as medals for certain achievements in net worth, certain amount of profile views etc..

This is a labor of love and there will be no adds or solicitations associated with it in the foreseeable future. I would really love your feedback and help with the direction of this product.

Please do PM me if you are at all interested.

Note: This application does not track any of your financial accounts, rather you enter your own KEY financial numbers every month, the application does provide a convenient feature to facilitate the process though.

mptfan
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by mptfan » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:13 pm

I used custom made Google Sheets that I created myself to balance my cash accounts and credit card accounts, to track income and expenses, and to keep track of investment transactions and net worth. I love the fact that I can access the spreadsheets from any computer.

lilvixen
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by lilvixen » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:21 pm

We use YNAB for budgeting and retirement/investment account tracking.

523HRR
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by 523HRR » Fri Dec 23, 2016 6:06 pm

Everything is in Quicken.

Mav
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Mav » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:35 pm

lhl12 wrote:I started with "Managing Your Money by Andrew Tobias", a quirky DOS-based program that I always had a soft spot for.

When MYM eventually died because it never transitioned successfully to Windows, I switched to Microsoft Money. Again, a little quirky but did a great job and I was happy with it. When Microsoft decided to stop further development on MS Money, I transitioned to QuickBooks Enterprise.

QBE is great - very powerful and customizable, but requires a real investment of time and energy to learn and fully configure properly. Now that I have it set up the way I want it, I love it, although it's probably overkill for most.
And the cost of Quickbooks....is through the roof and you have to pay monthly to have accounts linked and have QB pull the transactions.

BogleMelon
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by BogleMelon » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:01 pm

YNAB 4
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

Alexander2020
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Alexander2020 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 2:30 pm

Personal Capital for investing. It tracks all of my accounts and provides everything I need in an easy to use interface.
Excel for budgets, taxable income projections and annual financial performance - since 2006.

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Sheepdog
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Sheepdog » Sun Dec 25, 2016 2:48 pm

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:I use the discontinued Microsoft Money, in which I have a quarter century of personal financial data. If starting from zero today I'd make a different choice, but I can't go back in time and make a different choice then, and anyway, today's better choices weren't available 25 years ago. It's a classic legacy IT situation. The cost of giving up the data, which I've tried and failed to port to something newer, is greater than any inconvenience of continuing to use the old system.

I keep the data out of the cloud, but back it up regularly, including for off-site storage.

PJW
Hear Hear. I have used Msoft Money since it came out. My last copy was Money 2002 and I use it on 2 computers and on them I have record of every thing I have invested and their returns, all expenses, RMD records, etc. I know my past cash flow or my future cash flow estimates from which I make my plans Ask me about any year since 1999, or any day or week as far as that goes, I can tell you my financial history for any period. What a great program that was and still is for me.
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter which tells what kind of life you have lived---Helen Walton

mptfan
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by mptfan » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:14 pm

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:I use the discontinued Microsoft Money, in which I have a quarter century of personal financial data. If starting from zero today I'd make a different choice, but I can't go back in time and make a different choice then, and anyway, today's better choices weren't available 25 years ago. It's a classic legacy IT situation. The cost of giving up the data, which I've tried and failed to port to something newer, is greater than any inconvenience of continuing to use the old system.
This is one of the reasons I use spreadsheets and avoid proprietary software, I do not want to be put in this situation in the future.

Tiffku08
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Tiffku08 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:25 pm

I have an excel sheet that I use to keep track of my finances to update it every Friday. It's nice to see an overall trend over the past couple of years.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:37 pm

mptfan wrote:...
This is one of the reasons I use spreadsheets and avoid proprietary software, I do not want to be put in this situation in the future.
Understood and agreed. Presumably you use an open-source spreadsheet application, like, for one example, openoffice.org's calc?
PJW

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cheese_breath
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by cheese_breath » Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:09 pm

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:
mptfan wrote:...
This is one of the reasons I use spreadsheets and avoid proprietary software, I do not want to be put in this situation in the future.
Understood and agreed. Presumably you use an open-source spreadsheet application, like, for one example, openoffice.org's calc?
PJW
That plus I want to know what's going on under the covers rather than blindly accept the answer put out by a propriety program. Best way to know what's going on is to build it (the spreadsheets) myself.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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triceratop
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by triceratop » Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:14 pm

trevordowdle wrote:I have been looking for an opportunity to share something I have been working on the past couple months, and it relates to tracking finances so thought this would be a good time to share.

Me and wife have always been quite deliberate with our finances, but never consistent with budgeting. When starting with Excel or other budgeting software we seem to do pretty good for the first couple of months but ended up dropping the ball, I guess we just don't always have the will to take the time and effort needed to track everything.

In September I started tracking our net worth (Debts/Assets) in Google Docs (Wish I would have started earlier!). I found it is lot easier and funner for us to stay on top of tracking our net worth. Focusing mainly on KEY assets and debts, I can get an idea of how much progress and momentum we are building.

After a couple months I wanted to see some graphs depicting net worth over time, I also thought it would be nice to have a way to privately share my Net Worth graph and Asset/Debt allocation with others online.

I am a Web Developer by trade and knew it would be fun, so I started building an open source project for our monthly net worth tracking and sharing, but it's something others can use too. If anyone is interested in trying it out, I would greatly appreciate some feedback.

I am hoping a handful of you would be willing to help out as beta users, you will receive a special medal on your profile distinguishing you as a beta user as a token of my thanks. There are plans in the near future to add some gamification to the product, such as medals for certain achievements in net worth, certain amount of profile views etc..

This is a labor of love and there will be no adds or solicitations associated with it in the foreseeable future. I would really love your feedback and help with the direction of this product.

Please do PM me if you are at all interested.

Note: This application does not track any of your financial accounts, rather you enter your own KEY financial numbers every month, the application does provide a convenient feature to facilitate the process though.
Is there any reason you rejected the open-source (GNU/GPL licensed) GnuCash when selecting a suite for your finances? Many Bogleheads use it and find it perfectly sufficient for tracking finances and generating reports. Reports I use: Income/Expense chart vs. time, Portfolio return calculators, Net Worth vs. time, Assets vs. time, etc.

It is quite flexible, and if you need more from it you can always hack on the source code.
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

H-Dog
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by H-Dog » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:09 pm

I use Personal Capital. It's easy and convenient. Instead of avoiding new tech I embrace it.

It's easy to check all financial transaction history in one place including credit cards, bill pays, ACH transfers etc and they do a great job keeping the platform functional with frequent updates. Personal Capital does not have ads which I really like vs Mint that keeps on pushing ads to you. At one point they do try to sell their services via email/call but it's not bad.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:28 pm

H-Dog wrote:I use Personal Capital. It's easy and convenient. Instead of avoiding new tech I embrace it.
...
Hi H-Dog,

I embrace new tech too.

It's just that I don't embrace losing the ability to access and learn from all my historical data. It's the frequently-encountered IT legacy problem.

Personal Capital as an institution, of course, will remain in business and unacquired and will continue supporting the data formats of the proprietary software they host today far longer than any individual's prospective lifetime, therefore nobody who today chooses to use their highly-desirable suite of applications will ever face the legacy problem.

PJW

P.S.: No. I'm not being ironic.

H-Dog
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by H-Dog » Sun Dec 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:
H-Dog wrote:I use Personal Capital. It's easy and convenient. Instead of avoiding new tech I embrace it.
...
...
It's just that I don't embrace losing the ability to access and learn from all my historical data.
...
That is a valid point. However if Personal Capital gets acquired, has to be shut down, or they change their business model that is not attractive to me anymore then I can always revert back to Excel. It is easy to download all transactions from time when I linked the accounts and download them in cvs format. Then I would not lose data.

There is nothing wrong with updating Excel and using it for tracking. Different people have different tastes. I like the simplicity of Personal Capital and how I can review all of my transactions from anywhere and anytime within one app.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:06 am

Understood H-Dog.

The difficulty is a quarter of a century ago you or someone else might have counseled me to preserve enough flexibility to export my Microsoft Money data into a financial tracking system I built myself using the then-market-dominant Lotus 1-2-3. For clarity of presentation plain ease of reading I could have maintained multiple releases of the pre-WYSIWYG word processing application WordPerfect, using dBase to keep track of which version matched which file, because backward compatibility is neither an immutable law of nature nor an invention of Ada Lovelace.

Who knows what the future equivalents of you will snicker at you for twenty five years hence? You'll probably seem hilarious to them, gramps. Or maybe the pace of technological innovation will slow?

At least the values can be separated with commas.

Except, CSV is no more an OSI-model application-layer protocol than was EBCDIC.

You, which more generally is to say youse, are not immune to the legacy problem.

PJW

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LazyNihilist
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by LazyNihilist » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:20 pm

I use GnuCash and am very happy with its Double Entry Book-Keeping.
The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must -Thucydides

steve187
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by steve187 » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:22 pm

Person Capital. Straightforward website and allows me to view everything at once. Linking accounts is very easy

Jags4186
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:15 pm

Mint for budgeting, personal capital for investments.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:52 pm

LazyNihilist wrote:I use GnuCash and am very happy with its Double Entry Book-Keeping.
If I were choosing today that's what I'd go with. Of course, I'd be sure to keep a copy of the source code and the libraries it links to and the compiler source on non degradable media only slightly degradable media where am I going to find a DVD drive in 2040? probably good enough media I could copy to something else later so when I became gramps I wouldn't find myself up a directed acyclic graph tree without C++ a paddle.
PJW

nofacetimber
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Re: How do you track your finances?

Post by nofacetimber » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:51 pm

triceratop wrote:
trevordowdle wrote:I have been looking for an opportunity to share something I have been working on the past couple months, and it relates to tracking finances so thought this would be a good time to share.

Me and wife have always been quite deliberate with our finances, but never consistent with budgeting. When starting with Excel or other budgeting software we seem to do pretty good for the first couple of months but ended up dropping the ball, I guess we just don't always have the will to take the time and effort needed to track everything.

In September I started tracking our net worth (Debts/Assets) in Google Docs (Wish I would have started earlier!). I found it is lot easier and funner for us to stay on top of tracking our net worth. Focusing mainly on KEY assets and debts, I can get an idea of how much progress and momentum we are building.

After a couple months I wanted to see some graphs depicting net worth over time, I also thought it would be nice to have a way to privately share my Net Worth graph and Asset/Debt allocation with others online.

I am a Web Developer by trade and knew it would be fun, so I started building an open source project for our monthly net worth tracking and sharing, but it's something others can use too. If anyone is interested in trying it out, I would greatly appreciate some feedback.

I am hoping a handful of you would be willing to help out as beta users, you will receive a special medal on your profile distinguishing you as a beta user as a token of my thanks. There are plans in the near future to add some gamification to the product, such as medals for certain achievements in net worth, certain amount of profile views etc..

This is a labor of love and there will be no adds or solicitations associated with it in the foreseeable future. I would really love your feedback and help with the direction of this product.

Please do PM me if you are at all interested.

Note: This application does not track any of your financial accounts, rather you enter your own KEY financial numbers every month, the application does provide a convenient feature to facilitate the process though.
Is there any reason you rejected the open-source (GNU/GPL licensed) GnuCash when selecting a suite for your finances? Many Bogleheads use it and find it perfectly sufficient for tracking finances and generating reports. Reports I use: Income/Expense chart vs. time, Portfolio return calculators, Net Worth vs. time, Assets vs. time, etc.

It is quite flexible, and if you need more from it you can always hack on the source code.
I actually never looked into or heard about "GnuCash" until you mentioned it. That does look like a great tool for generating reports, probably more in depth then I will get with my project. I am going to use GnuCash and look into generating some of those vs time graphs, very informative. Thank you.

I wouldn't characterize my project as a rejection of GnuCash, however I see that using both simultaneously would create more work.

For me the draw of my project is that it is web based, no software is required and you could access your data from any computer / mobile device.

Another thing i'm interested in doing is the ability to share my financial data/outlook with others quickly and conveniently, a web based solution allows me to do that.

And 3rd - I would like to add some fun, social aspect to the project. Earning awards (medals) for certain achievements along the financial journey that will be visible to others from your profile page. Not only awards that would be financial in nature such as certain net worth achievements. But also social awards, for achieving a certain number of profile views, having 1 year, 5 year worth of financial data tracked etc...

Hope that helps differentiate what i'm going for in this project as opposed to others. Thank you for informing me of GnuCash

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