How do you track expenses ?

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sixtyforty
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How do you track expenses ?

Post by sixtyforty » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:40 am

I'm looking for a way to track expenses. I would like to use something that imports from existing accounts. I am considering using something like MInt, YNAB or Personal Capital etc. but not sure how safe it is. What do you use ? Do you feel it's safe ? Has it helped ?
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midareff
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by midareff » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:45 am

I just do my own budget books in excel. It carry's over pension, SS and other income and dividend distributions in taxable from my portfolio excel book and then works expenses from there.

jebmke
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by jebmke » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:00 am

I only track 3 categories so I do it manually with a Google Sheet.
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truenorth418
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by truenorth418 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:06 am

I have an annual budget which prepare in an Apple "Numbers" spreadsheet.

Every month I download spending from my credit card account and withdrawals from my checking account, and I manually update my monthly budget with actual numbers to see if my budget is on track for the year.

I used to use Quicken but now it's almost as fast and easy - and certainly cheaper - to use my own system.

This process takes me about 20 minutes/month.

blueman457
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by blueman457 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:11 am

I have a Mac and use Bankitivity (previously ibank) to track my expenses. It works well, however I don't use it to track investments.

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Raybo
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Raybo » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:41 am

I pay for most things with a credit card and they track my spending for me.
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bertilak
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by bertilak » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:42 am

Quicken.
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Tex1234
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Tex1234 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 am

I've been using Mint for 7 years. I've always felt it is safe and never had a problem. I think it helps a lot. I don't budget super closely though, I've heard ynab is better for budgets, but Mint is nice for quickly looking at where all your money is going.

Searching transactions is nice too, like if I want to see just how much my cable bill has increased over the years I just search for company's name and can quickly see all of the transactions.

It also has a customizable set of emails it will send you. Like, I have it email me if I have unusual spending in a category, or I make a large purchase. And I get a weekly email that tells me how much I spent in the past week and a pie chart of the categories it was spent in.

Dandy
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Dandy » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:33 am

Bing retired my main purpose in tracking expenses is to keep track of my run rate. Obviously, knowing that helps determine my dollar withdrawal needs and if that is creeping up. I use a simple excel spread sheet with about 20 or so categories on the "y" axis e.g. one for each utility, credit card, insurance coverage, cable, phone, atm withdrawals, charity giving, etc. The "x" columns are for months.

I post the totals from my checkbook each month - about 10 minutes and strike a total for month, ytd and yearly monthly average.
I footnote any unusual expense e.g. expensive vacation.

Since I still match credit card receipts to my bill I have a good feel for where that money is going. I'm not sure getting detailed information on how much I am spending on restaurants or car repairs will be useful. If I have to reduce expenses I pretty much know where to cut.

As a secondary check on run rate I have all pension and social security income sent to online savings and then 2X a month I have money automatically moved to my checking account. Acts like a salary paid twice a month. If there is hardly any money left over at the end of the month for several months then I may need to do more detailed analysis, cut back expenses or increase withdrawal rate.

So far - works for me.

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flamesabers
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by flamesabers » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:44 am

Raybo wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:41 am
I pay for most things with a credit card and they track my spending for me.
Same here for me.

bloom2708
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:07 am

Personal Capital user here.

I used Money for years, Quicken and Mint.

PC seems to be a good mix of spending tracking and investment tracking. I track spending, categorize transactions and use it as a net worth aggregator. I have manual accounts for items I want to track that are not downloadable.

I pop in 1 or 2 times per week, categorize and clean up/standardize the name/description of transactions. PC does a pretty good job of guessing or using the last category for a business.

You will get a call from a PC rep when starting, but it was low key and I just said I am a DIYer. So far so good. I am coming up on 3 years with PC. The price is right at this time. ($0).
"We are not here to please, but to provoke thoughtfulness." --Unknown Boglehead

onourway
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by onourway » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:39 am

YNAB.

It's a bit of a learning curve, but its zero-based budgeting method easily pays for itself many times over every year. It also makes churning credit cards for bonuses much easier to manage - especially as I funnel a lot of reimbursed work expenses through them to hit the spends.

delamer
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by delamer » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:45 am

bertilak wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:42 am
Quicken.

Same here. But I save my data on my computer; I never upload to the Quicken cloud.

LarryAllen
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by LarryAllen » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:49 am

Been using Quicken for almost 25 years and been very happy. I use the original, saved data to computer, and it works well. Tried Mint and didn't love it. I also use PersonalCapital but it's more of an asset overview for me. Not so much on expenses.

Hockey10
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Hockey10 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:34 pm

I use Personal Capital. In addition to helping me track expenses, I use it as a tool to monitor my accounts for any fraud. Since I have multiple credit cards, bank accounts, and brokerage accounts, PC gives me a daily snapshot of everything in my financial world that took place yesterday.

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VictoriaF
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:36 pm

My own customized XLS (Microsoft spreadsheet).

Victoria
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runner3081
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by runner3081 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:55 pm

Google Documents.

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Toons
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Toons » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Quicken :happy
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Uncle Pennybags
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Uncle Pennybags » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:35 pm

I use Quicken and don't see any way out. They are holding decades of records hostage.
I will never use "cloud" software or storage that's the total deal breaker.

mptfan
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by mptfan » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:42 pm

My own customized Google Sheet that I update manually.

BogleMelon
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by BogleMelon » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:43 pm

Another vote for YNAB here. But make sure you use YNAB 4 (classic) not the new web based one. However, I am not sure how can u still buy it since the company no longer supporting it :oops:
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

JSDNJ
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by JSDNJ » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:35 pm

Personal Capital and Mint for budgets.

lgerla
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by lgerla » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:59 pm

I am really happy with Moneydance. I had to upload my initial bank transactions since my credit union is not supported. But I saved regular transactions so those are monthly "reminders" now and can be added quickly. I run most items through my credit cards and it imports my CC transactions and investment accounts, so very easy all around.

It doesn't have ads, phone solicitations, or monthly fees. For a one-time fee and potential upgrade fees every couple of years, it's on my PC and not in the cloud. If you want to sync to your phone or another computer, it uses your own Dropbox account. I also track my small business accounts through it and was able to drop the monthly fee for GoDaddy bookkeeping.

Since using it, I'm tracking Net worth in both charts and expense sheets, can view individual account asset allocations or across all accounts, and have cut some spending categories that were easy pickings.

H-Town
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by H-Town » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:36 pm
My own customized XLS (Microsoft spreadsheet).

Victoria
^ this :sharebeer

N10sive
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by N10sive » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:07 pm

I as well use excel. I just track really 3 items though.

bogglizer
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by bogglizer » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:56 pm

Gnucash - it's free!

3dream3
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by 3dream3 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:26 pm

I like using Personal Capital although I used to use Mint too. I also like getting the daily snapshot to monitor all of our accounts... or the wife's spending!

mindboggling
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by mindboggling » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:31 pm

Another vote for Gnucash. I only use it to track expenses and income. I enter everything manually. I don't track investment returns.
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AllieTB1323
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by AllieTB1323 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:37 pm

Apple's Numbers. We put maybe 90% of our spending on credit cards. Most of our expenses are reoccurring. Our income is fixed so we are basically running a monthly cash profit and loss.

Tamales
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Tamales » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 pm

Like several others, I created a custom Excel Table, and then created pivot tables from that.

With the pivot tables, you have great flexibility in looking at any desired subset of expense categories, over any user-selected timeframe, and various ways to filter the data. The flexibility is important because, over the first few years of expense tracking, when you do a year-end review, you realize there are some other ways you want to visualize your data.

Pivot tables are well worth learning (I just used youtube videos), and far less daunting than you might think. Even if you don't end up using pivot tables for anything else, it's a great tool for expense tracking.

keaton
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:07 pm

Mint! Easy, and works on every platform in any part of the world I might be in. No need to shell out for any other features unless I had my own business. Great for planning and getting a more complete net worth, along with checking credit card transaction in one easy login.

keaton
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:10 pm

Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 pm
Like several others, I created a custom Excel Table, and then created pivot tables from that.
How do you import transactions from accounts into the table with ease?

madbrain
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by madbrain » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:16 pm

Quicken.

Tamales
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Tamales » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:21 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:10 pm
Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 pm
Like several others, I created a custom Excel Table, and then created pivot tables from that.
How do you import transactions from accounts into the table with ease?
I haven't bothered to try and see if there's a way to do that because there is zero chance the data I'd be importing from various accounts would be in the right order or format, and I'd have to manually add my category and comment fields to each entry regardless (because those are all custom).

scrabbler1
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by scrabbler1 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:23 pm

Back in the mid-1990s, after I bought my first PC, I created a spreadsheet version of my checkbook register but added columns for broad, easily categorized expenses. I keep 2 years of that per spreadsheet so it doesn't become too large and unwieldy. In another year-summarized spreadsheet, I have a column for each year and many rows for various expenses, also in pretty broad categories but include some not shown in the other spreadsheet.

ThePrince
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by ThePrince » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:24 pm

Mint.com

keaton
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by keaton » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:23 pm

Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:21 pm
keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:10 pm
Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 pm
Like several others, I created a custom Excel Table, and then created pivot tables from that.
How do you import transactions from accounts into the table with ease?
I haven't bothered to try and see if there's a way to do that because there is zero chance the data I'd be importing from various accounts would be in the right order or format, and I'd have to manually add my category and comment fields to each entry regardless (because those are all custom).
That would kill me, I dont have the time or energy to input all data when software like mint does 99% for me with ease.

baliktad
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by baliktad » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:34 pm

I'm still a holdout with Microsoft Money. I recognize this is a dead product but it's too powerful to give up.

WIth nearly 2 decades of transactions recorded, effectively my entire adult financial history is captured and available to analyze. I've had to do a little extra work to get transactions and stock prices to download once Microsoft discontinued support, but all my banking and investment account transactions are automatically entered (with the exception of my HSA, held at a pseudo-bank operated in conjunction with my employer). I do some minor tweaking/categorizing about once or twice a month.

The power of Money is in having your entire financial life aggregated in one place. Day-to-day bank accounts, long-term savings and large assets, and investments all together allow you to constantly assess your overall financial position, rather than just "Where's my money going?" and "Do I have enough in checking to cover this month's bills?"

Putting in transactions is the work; slicing and dicing reports is the payoff. I can see how my overall position has changed as a direct result of the things I control (income and spending) and the things I don't (property values and investments). Because I split out complex transactions like my paycheck (gross, taxes, retirement contributions, misc payroll deductions) and mortgage payments (principal, interest, taxes, other escrows), I can get more insight into where money is really coming from and going to than solutions which only look at net dollars flowing in and out of an account.

Other features/functionality I find useful:

- automatic transaction entry/reminders (useful with autopay accounts so I know what's going to happen & when)
- cash flow (look-ahead balance predictions so I know how much I can divert to/pull from savings when I have irregular income/expenses)
- investment performance data covering any arbitrary time period, aggregated across any set of accounts (useful to keep track of performance when moving funds between accounts/institutions for 401K/Roth rollover, etc.)
- tax estimator basically pre-calculates what your tax situation will look like at the end of the year. Useful for adjusting withholdings and avoiding surprises in April

My favorite feature unique to Money has got to be the Lifetime Planner. This basically allows you to play "what-if" with your financial future at a very granular level: what if I start saving more now, get a promotion/raise next year, begin making extra payments on the mortgage starting in 2 years, pay for a house remodel in 5 years, receive an inheritance in 10 years, and/or retire a few years early? It will do the math on all the scenarios and show you the results for your whole life expectancy, including a year-by-year breakdown, optionally adjusting for inflation. It's weirdly fantastic and sobering to see your entire financial future laid out so starkly - much more so than most financial calculators which just focus on achieving a lump sum by retirement age. Perhaps the most useful financial planning calculator I have ever seen because it leverages all your own actual financial data to stay constantly up to date.

I probably won't be able to keep using Money forever, but until I find something that gives me as much value/benefit I'm likely to stick with it.

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FreeAtLast
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by FreeAtLast » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:17 am

Microsoft Excel 2007. Please- this particular task is not brain surgery.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

pasadena
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by pasadena » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:09 am

I use YNAB. I moved from YNB4 to the new one (cloud-based) earlier this year. YNAB is one of the best thing that has happened to my finances.

Safety-wise, you don't have to link your accounts if that's what is bothering you. Then it's just a bunch of numbers and nothing confidential, really. If your question is about losing your data, YNAB allows you to download everything in CSV format, which can be opened in any spreadsheet program.

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Uncle Pennybags
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Uncle Pennybags » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:15 am

baliktad wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:34 pm
The power of Money is in having your entire financial life aggregated in one place.
I switched to Quicken in the 90s. I didn't want to be held hostage by M$. :oops:

DrGoogle2017
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:45 am

Just Excel spreadsheet. That's sufficient for me.

njdealguy
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by njdealguy » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:52 am

Use an app on my android phone called "Expense Tracker". Very simple and convenient to record expenses immediately as they are made at any given time. Also I have a monthly budget for how much "discretionary" expenses I'll allow myself every month and always track how much amount from that budget is "remaining" every month to prevent overspending.

froman118
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by froman118 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:17 am

Mint. I've got 7 years of data there and had used Yodlee a few years before that. Being married with 2 kids means a lot of transactions (average about 120 per month) and a lot of them are either automatic or from my wife so having stuff come across automatically is amazing. We tend to use credit cards in place of cash whenever possible just to make transactions easier to track.

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Uncle Pennybags
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by Uncle Pennybags » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:45 am

froman118 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:17 am
We tend to use credit cards in place of cash whenever possible just to make transactions easier to track.
One of my favorite things is standing in a long line wile someone swipes there card ten times trying to get it to take.

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BolderBoy
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:51 am

mindboggling wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:31 pm
Another vote for Gnucash. I only use it to track expenses and income. I enter everything manually. I don't track investment returns.
Gnucash here as well (switched from Quicken last month). I do track investment stuff with Gnucash.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

new2bogle
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by new2bogle » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:53 pm

At the end of the month I make sure everything taken out of the bank account (mortgage, credit card payments, ATM, etc) are less than or equal to income coming in - so only one place to check. The income coming in already has all savings deducted from it so I am free to spend all of it.

Does it really matter where the expense goes as long as you are meeting your savings goals?

3feetpete
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by 3feetpete » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:43 pm

I use Mint. It is very convenient and easy to use. I have linked it only to my credit cards and checking account. Not to my investments. It automatically categorizes credit card expenses and is correct 95% of the time. Adding a category to a check or changing a category on a credit card transaction takes seconds on my phone or computer. It even allows me to split a transaction into several categories. It also gives me alerts if I over spend my budget and when credit card payments are due.

mptfan
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by mptfan » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:11 pm

Uncle Pennybags wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:15 am
baliktad wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:34 pm
The power of Money is in having your entire financial life aggregated in one place.
I switched to Quicken in the 90s. I didn't want to be held hostage by M$. :oops:
It seems all you did was change captors.

mptfan
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Re: How do you track expenses ?

Post by mptfan » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:16 pm

keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:23 pm
Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:21 pm
keaton wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:10 pm
Tamales wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:00 pm
Like several others, I created a custom Excel Table, and then created pivot tables from that.
How do you import transactions from accounts into the table with ease?
I haven't bothered to try and see if there's a way to do that because there is zero chance the data I'd be importing from various accounts would be in the right order or format, and I'd have to manually add my category and comment fields to each entry regardless (because those are all custom).
That would kill me, I dont have the time or energy to input all data when software like mint does 99% for me with ease.
For me it is a hobby, like gardening or stamp collecting. I actually enjoy entering my data into spreadsheets and tinkering with them.

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