Budgeting/Expense tracking

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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dbthegeneral
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:18 pm

Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by dbthegeneral » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 am

Curious how other Bogleheads manage their own finance.. I made a spreadsheet that i use for myself in conjunction with Mint. Mint is used only to export transactions from all accounts into the sheet and then i categorize myself in excel.

I have a tab with a P&L and BS and a summary tab that tracks the shows the main categories YTD, Projected for the year, and 3 year historical. Ive used some other calculations from other peoples sheets in further detail to see what would be required savings based on net worth and withdrawal rates with a few different scenarios.

Tracking categories:
- income
- savings
- utilities
- housing
- transportation
- food
- debt
- insurance/healthcare
- personal care
- education
- leisure/entertainment
- subscriptions
- vacation exp
- holidays/birthdays

The reason that i chose to do it this way was so that i could parse out things like subscriptions from entertainment and see exactly what these are, or holidays/birthdays from leisure entertainment to see how much that one specific item was.

Questions:
1. im curious how other bogleheads use similar things to track spending.
2. do you think there are too many categories here? should i make it a bit simpler and group a few of these together? (i have sub-categories in each)
3. I want to start conversation about savings needed for retirement - as a basic calc, ive taken the net worth, withdrawal rate, avg annual exp and calculated how much each expense category would need to be saved for FI. (similar to mad fientist). I was a bit surprised when calculating the number for food, leisure/entertainment (while taking into consideration that rent/housing is not my largest expense), but i can definitely cut back.
4. what other calculations/forecasts do you use in your own planning?
5. what sort of metrics are others focused on when maintaining a spreadsheet to track personal finance?

db

jebmke
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by jebmke » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:00 am

I track three categories

Income Taxes
Capital items (generally high dollar, long useful life - think car, home improvement)
Everything else.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

sschoe2
Posts: 449
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:42 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by sschoe2 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:02 am

I use Personal Capital to help plus keep track of bills via my banks's bill pay etc.
I know what the mortgage costs and am on the budget plan for electricity and gas and most of my other bills are regular.

I then calculate a percentage for each based on gross income.

Results are
30% lost to taxes [about 22% state and local income, 6% property, another 2% or so for sales tax and fees a bit higher really because I defer taxes buy maxing 401k]
27/31% (with match) savings via 401k and RIRA
20% housing&utilities
5% food
4% transportation
3% veterinary bills (2 dogs one is elderly and vet bills are ridiculous in this area)
11% is discretionary and misc expenses (home improvement mostly not a big spender)

CommitmentDevice
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:25 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by CommitmentDevice » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:06 am

I use Mint. I log in twice a month for the following:
  • Verify that the checking account balance is in my desired range
  • Skim transactions for unexpected expenses
  • Skim credit card balances to make sure auto-pay is working
  • Note my credit score
  • Note my net worth
I trust Mint's snapshot of my financial position on a given day, but I don't trust its trend reporting. This is in part because I don't re-categorize Mint transactions.

I don't budget. Instead, I determine a savings rate and set up auto-withdrawals to accomplish that savings rate. I subconsciously adjust my day-to-day expenses to keep my checking account balance within my desired range.

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Tyler Aspect
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Location: California
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Tyler Aspect » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:10 am

These are my categories that I can use in my cash flow tracking application.

Declare Income ai - alimony income
Declare Income csi - child support income
Declare Income dblTaxFreeDiv - double tax free dividend
Declare Income income - regular income
Declare Income inheritance - inheritance income
Declare Income dividend - dividend income
Declare Income gains - capital gains
Declare Income interest - interest income
Declare Income pension - pension income
Declare Income rebate - cash rebate
Declare Income taxFreeDiv - tax free dividend
Declare Income GiftIncome - gift received
Declare Income ShortGains - short term capital gains
Declare Income LongGains - long term capital gains

Declare Expense alimony - alimony expense
Declare Expense atm - ATM withdraws
Declare Expense car - car repair, car purchase, gas, parking, transportation
Declare Expense child - child support expense
Declare Expense civic - donation to campaigns or elections
Declare Expense charity - non-profit donation
Declare Expense church - religious organization donation
Declare Expense debit - generic debit expense
Declare Expense dining - dining out expenses, restaurant
Declare Expense education - school costs, tutor expenses, after-school programs
Declare Expense event - movie or musical events, amusement parks
Declare Expense fee - bank fees, credit card fees
Declare Expense gift - gift expense, including birthday
Declare Expense food - food and grocery store expenses
Declare Expense hobby - hobby related expenses, wine, tea, collectibles
Declare Expense housing - mortgage, rental, home repair, gardening, home owner association
Declare Expense insurance - car, house, or life insurance
Declare Expense legal - legal or lawyer expense
Declare Expense medical - dental and medical expenses, prescriptions, self paid premium
Declare Expense misc - miscellaneous expenses
Declare Expense phone - phone, cable, internet
Declare Expense shop - shopping expense
Declare Expense tax - property tax, income tax
Declare Expense utility - electricity, natural gas, water, garbage
Declare Expense vacation - vacation related expenses
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7eight9
Posts: 436
Joined: Fri May 17, 2019 7:11 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by 7eight9 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:40 am

I track expenses in the following categories:
Food (which is sub broken down by meat/vegetable/fruit/etc. and dining out)
Gasoline
Vehicle repair/maintenance
Clothing
Medical/Dental
Gifts
Household (all other spend)
Internet/Phone
Cellular phones
Electricity
Natural Gas
HOA dues
Property taxes
Property insurance
Vehicle registration/insurance
Vacation spend (airfare/hotel/ground transportation/meals etc.)

Every Saturday I update my spreadsheet and calculate net worth which is broken out in the following categories:
Real estate (per county assessor)
Cash (bank accounts/CDs/physical cash)
IRA/401k
Roth IRA
Taxable
Prepaid (stored value cards/electricity and natural gas which I pay annually)
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HawkeyePierce
Posts: 734
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Location: Colorado

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by HawkeyePierce » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:45 am

I use You Need A Budget. I input transactions as they occur using their mobile app (mostly, sometimes I forget). Transactions are also auto-imported from the banks themselves.

Before using YNAB money was flowing out the door and I didn’t have a good sense of where it was going. Now I know exactly where it goes.

YNAB also reduces mental accounting errors. I no longer give one dollar multiple “jobs” in their parlance.

I’m currently on an extended unpaid leave of absence and this system gave me confidence to know I could afford that. I was able to budget several months in advance.

josehde
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:55 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by josehde » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:50 am

I used both Mint and YNAB before, but these apps really can't seem to work well for me. I'm always back to the tried and tested excel sheet--I'm more comfortable tracking expenses manually that way.

Topic Author
dbthegeneral
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:18 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by dbthegeneral » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:55 am

josehde wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:50 am
I used both Mint and YNAB before, but these apps really can't seem to work well for me. I'm always back to the tried and tested excel sheet--I'm more comfortable tracking expenses manually that way.
Nice - yeah i like excel the best for the ability to customize however you want. Im curious if you dont use those apps how do you get all your transactions into the spreadsheet efficiently?

Topic Author
dbthegeneral
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:18 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by dbthegeneral » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:59 am

sschoe2 wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:02 am

Results are
30% lost to taxes [about 22% state and local income, 6% property, another 2% or so for sales tax and fees a bit higher really because I defer taxes buy maxing 401k]
27/31% (with match) savings via 401k and RIRA
20% housing&utilities
5% food
4% transportation
3% veterinary bills (2 dogs one is elderly and vet bills are ridiculous in this area)
11% is discretionary and misc expenses (home improvement mostly not a big spender)
Once i started tracking the percent to gross income, it opened up my eyes a bit. i started tracking it as of take home pay and that was worse. lol. Food - eating out, groceries, coffee shops - was off the charts. i get a lot of meals reimbursed through work but still, the amount spent on groceries AND eating out was alarming. definitely learned to manage that and eat at home more.

Topic Author
dbthegeneral
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:18 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by dbthegeneral » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:00 pm

jebmke wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:00 am
I track three categories

Income Taxes
Capital items (generally high dollar, long useful life - think car, home improvement)
Everything else.
This is an interesting approach, im curious what this would look like for myself.

cshell2
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 10:29 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by cshell2 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:04 pm

I use YNAB and track a lot of categories. I've been budgeting like this for over a decade, so it's just habit to enter all my expenses in on my phone app immediately.

ApachePeacock
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:13 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by ApachePeacock » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:22 pm

I built a pretty expansive spreadsheet over the course of the past 5 years to track spending and other things. My spend categories are:
-Bills/Utilities
-Groceries
-Fun
-Eat Out
-Home
-Dog
-Vacation
-Debt
-Savings
-Extra (apply to debt or savings as needed)

I pull spend data from my credit card every 2-3 days and add it to the sheet.

Other things I track (usually monthly):
-Net worth
-Savings Rate
-Investment returns and allocation
-Debt amortization schedule
-More granular into the categories above to make adjustments to budget

quantAndHold
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by quantAndHold » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:25 pm

dbthegeneral wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:55 am
josehde wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:50 am
I used both Mint and YNAB before, but these apps really can't seem to work well for me. I'm always back to the tried and tested excel sheet--I'm more comfortable tracking expenses manually that way.
Nice - yeah i like excel the best for the ability to customize however you want. Im curious if you dont use those apps how do you get all your transactions into the spreadsheet efficiently?
I do exactly as you do, except I use Personal Capital as the aggregator, then export that to a spreadsheet once a month.

My categories are similar to yours, except I have fewer of them, and they’re related to function. For example, anything housing related, from property taxes to insurance to utilities to trips to Home Depot is under the housing category. Then for the four or five categories with the largest numbers, I break them into subcategories. So, for example the healthcare category has insurance, office visits, prescriptions, etc.

Then I automatically generate some very nice colorful pie charts that my wife likes to look at.

Topic Author
dbthegeneral
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:18 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by dbthegeneral » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:35 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:25 pm

My categories are similar to yours, except I have fewer of them, and they’re related to function. For example, anything housing related, from property taxes to insurance to utilities to trips to Home Depot is under the housing category. Then for the four or five categories with the largest numbers, I break them into subcategories. So, for example the healthcare category has insurance, office visits, prescriptions, etc.

Then I automatically generate some very nice colorful pie charts that my wife likes to look at.
Okay - i have been thinking about better ways to look at expense, might try this out on another tab and see what i find analytically compared to my current sheet.

:mrgreen: I have learned that my SO likes to see the info in graphs/charts as well. I am in accounting so i deal with financials/numbers all day but the charts do make it more visual for most people.

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WingsFan4Life
Posts: 47
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by WingsFan4Life » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:44 pm

You Need A Budget (YNAB4). Bought it on sale on Steam years ago before they came out with the subscription based one. I think it can be used by anyone in any financial situation.

furikake
Posts: 293
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:13 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by furikake » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:25 pm

I track based on the bills we pay, like Credit Card #1, Credit Card #2, mowing, security alarm, dentist, gas, city/water, etc. I don't break out different categories like food, books, supplies, etc. I just need to know how much we spend each year. After tracking for several years, I know our expenses are roughly the same, that's good enough for me.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Shallowpockets » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:42 pm

I use Quicken version 2007. I use the checkbook feature. I only do spending. I do not enter any income. I can run reports. I can use a word search feature. For instance, I can look up car repairs, or word search oil to find my last oil change. I have categories that overlap somewhat. So household is pretty general and then there is miscellaneous too.
It has been invaluable to me to keep these expenses. I can look back to see what I paid over the years or for specific things. Sometimes I put events in there that are not a cost. I leave that part blank, but I can still find it.
This is all a no supported version of Quicken. There is no sign on. No upload, no download, no cloud. So it is secure. It is a gigantic checkbook with everything in it. Since it runs like a checkbook and I do not input any income, the overall spend over the years is displayed right there. I have spent $475,743 since August 2007. Two people, everything included, right down to the $1.50 for a hot dog in Costco.
With all that info, i went into retirement with a great amount of knowledge and confidence.
I would say that tracking your expenses is paramount to living life and planning on the future. Most people ball park it all, hence their questions here all the time about how much do I need to retire.

delamer
Posts: 9318
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by delamer » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:45 pm

OP, I track income and payroll taxes in addition to the the categories you have noted.

Taxes are by far our largest expense, particularly income taxes.

I also have subcategories. For instance, within healthcare, I break out premiums, prescriptions, and provider visits. And dining out is separate from groceries under food.

So I’d argue that you don’t have enough categories. :)

But it depends on what your expenses are as to how many categories you need. And whether you have a goal of reducing/reallocating expenses.

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Toons
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Toons » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:47 pm

Quicken
For Life
:happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

daheld
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Location: Midwest US

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by daheld » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:19 pm

I'm always surprised how many around here are comfortable using a service like Mint. I am not willing to give a single institution all the log-in information for all my banking and credit accounts.

We have an excel spreadsheet that my very smart engineer wife created. Once a month or so, we download transactions, copy/paste them into the appropriate sheet, then classify them by expense type. All credits/debits are consolidated into their appropriate category on a summary sheet.

bloom2708
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Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by bloom2708 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:24 pm

daheld wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:19 pm
I'm always surprised how many around here are comfortable using a service like Mint. I am not willing to give a single institution all the log-in information for all my banking and credit accounts.

We have an excel spreadsheet that my very smart engineer wife created. Once a month or so, we download transactions, copy/paste them into the appropriate sheet, then classify them by expense type. All credits/debits are consolidated into their appropriate category on a summary sheet.
Many threads on this. Using Mint or Personal Capital does not expose your usernames or passwords. I have 2 factor authentication on PC and all the accounts that are linked. Device recognition. Text verification. PC asks me for a code every time I log in. The linked accounts also require verification.

Logging onto Vanguard in your browser is higher risk than one time linking your account to Personal Capital through the Yodlee services.

But it has been hashed and re-hashed. I've been using Personal Capital for expense tracking for 5 years. Enough detail but not too much. I can look back year over year and see all my detail. Cash flow, income, spending. I log in once a week and verify transactions are categorized correctly.
"People want confirmation, not advice" Unknown | "We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you" Unknown | Four words. Whole food, plant based. Bing it.

Smk18
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Smk18 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:52 pm

I use personal capital. Very good app.

bankle
Posts: 31
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by bankle » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:31 pm

I think most of our categories are basically the same, we may use different names, include/exclude some per our lifetstyle.

One useful exercise I did (I think another BH once mentioned it), is to break down my "grocery" receipts, just for six months, into food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, treats/snacks. Eye-opening how much two people can spend on junk food and paper towels! :oops:

I do have a tendency to get too micro - I enjoy playing with Excel.

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peetsperk
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by peetsperk » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:32 pm

For the most part, ours are similar. However, there are a few differences.

Savings
Giving
Housing
Utilities
Food
Transportation
Clothing
Personal
Recreation
Medical
Pet Expenses
Other

Chris K Jones
Posts: 251
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Chris K Jones » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:09 pm

I only track the gross amount of spending each month. I don't try to follow a budget. It tells me all I need to know. I don't really have the time or interest to break it down by categories.

acegolfer
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by acegolfer » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:12 am

My spreadsheet dashboard generates the following charts from raw transaction data

1. current account balances, net worth
2. net worth time series chart
3. income/ expense / saving rate time series chart
4. current asset allocation pie chart
5. asset allocation % (stacked) time series chart
6. portfolio value / aggregate contributions times series chart
7. spending by category (stacked) time series chart

A440
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by A440 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:59 am

Old, circa 2004?, version of Quicken. We use an old laptop almost exclusively for this. I track everything that comes in and goes out. It's also great to search for things we spent. For example, "Hey, the coffee maker doesn't work! OK, I'll check Quicken to see when we bought it and maybe it's still under warranty" Or for the last time major home improvements were done (e.g. roof, driveway, plumbing)
I did try Mint, but found my old version of Quicken easier, only because it was very familiar to me.
I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

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lthenderson
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Location: Iowa

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by lthenderson » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:03 am

dbthegeneral wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 am
1. im curious how other bogleheads use similar things to track spending.
I only track one thing, how much I have saved/invested for the year. After years of trying to keep various spending categories, justify in my head overruns in one particular category or another, I realized that at the end of the day, I don't care a single iota for how much I spend as long as I am meeting my saving/investing goals. It is also much easier, I just plug ending balances of all my asset accounts into a spreadsheet once a month. Takes about five minutes, mostly logging into various sites.

MikeG62
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Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by MikeG62 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:33 am

dbthegeneral wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 am
Curious how other Bogleheads manage their own finance.. I made a spreadsheet that i use for myself in conjunction with Mint. Mint is used only to export transactions from all accounts into the sheet and then i categorize myself in excel.

I have a tab with a P&L and BS and a summary tab that tracks the shows the main categories YTD, Projected for the year, and 3 year historical. Ive used some other calculations from other peoples sheets in further detail to see what would be required savings based on net worth and withdrawal rates with a few different scenarios.

Tracking categories:
- income
- savings
- utilities
- housing
- transportation
- food
- debt
- insurance/healthcare
- personal care
- education
- leisure/entertainment
- subscriptions
- vacation exp
- holidays/birthdays

The reason that i chose to do it this way was so that i could parse out things like subscriptions from entertainment and see exactly what these are, or holidays/birthdays from leisure entertainment to see how much that one specific item was.


...do you think there are too many categories here? should i make it a bit simpler and group a few of these together? (i have sub-categories in each)
No I do not.

Here are the categories I use:

1) Amounts Charged to CC's:

a) Electric/Gas (PSEG)
b) Mobile Phone (Verizon)
c) Internet/TV/Cable (Comcast)
d) Auto Insurance
e) Homeowners Insurance
f) Personal Liability Umbrella Insurance
g) Food/Groceries
h) Restaurants
i) Gas Credit Card
j) Health Insurance Premiums
k) Medical Out-of-Pocket Costs
l) Gym
m) Lawn Service/Outdoor Maintenance
n) Travel/Trips/Other One-Offs
o) All Other CC Spending

2) Other (non-CC Spend):

a) Pocket $
b) Car loan/lease Payments
c) Real Estate Tax
d) Water Bill
e) Christmas
f) Income Taxes
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

WageSlave
Posts: 97
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by WageSlave » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:37 pm

dbthegeneral wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 am
1. im curious how other bogleheads use similar things to track spending.
2. do you think there are too many categories here? should i make it a bit simpler and group a few of these together? (i have sub-categories in each)
3. I want to start conversation about savings needed for retirement - as a basic calc, ive taken the net worth, withdrawal rate, avg annual exp and calculated how much each expense category would need to be saved for FI. (similar to mad fientist). I was a bit surprised when calculating the number for food, leisure/entertainment (while taking into consideration that rent/housing is not my largest expense), but i can definitely cut back.
4. what other calculations/forecasts do you use in your own planning?
5. what sort of metrics are others focused on when maintaining a spreadsheet to track personal finance?
1. Surprised no one has mentioned GnuCash yet. Free (open source) cross-platform (Windows/Mac/Linux) accounting software. This is my seventh year using it to keep track of every penny.

2. My opinion is that you should choose the categories that work for you, i.e. unique to your goals, circumstances, etc. One nice thing about GnuCash is that expense accounts are hierarchical, so you can have a small number of general categories, then below those get increasingly specific. You can report at any level.

3. Much of my approach is based off the methodology described in the book Your Money or Your Life. In a nutshell, I look at my monthly expenses versus my monthly passive income. The YMOYL book talks about the "wall chart", literally a giant sheet of paper where you graph passive income and expenses versus time. When the passive income line is consistently above your expense line, you are financially independent. I don't have a wall chart, but since I have all the data in digital format, it's easy to generate such a graph on the fly.

4., 5. Basically I look at my portfolio size versus the passive income it generates (i.e. interest/dividends). I do not count capital growth (simplifies the math and assumptions, also biases me towards more conservative estimates). In the seven years I've been doing this, my passive income is roughly 2.5% of portfolio value. Portfolio is a slightly tweaked classic BH 3-fund portfolio, about 80/20 stocks/bonds. So I can use this number to get an idea of where the portfolio needs to be to support us 100%. Health insurance is a huge wildcard: it's expensive, and likely to go through changes. Since my health insurance is employer-paid, my medical expenses are very low currently. But I estimate that would be $20-30k/year if I had to pay myself. The other semi-unknown is taxes, since I also consider that another factor this likely to change in my lifetime: I have to keep in mind my passive income will be reduced by some amount when I come to rely on it for living expenses.

The net result is that I have a system in place that maintains good data on our financial situation. Every year, I do a "rollup" and compare numbers to previous years: what's gone up, what's gone down, etc. And with that information, it can help my family and I decide what spending brings us the most fulfillment, and think about where we might possibly cut back without affecting our lifestyle. Again, loosely based on the methodology from YMOYL; there, the idea is that every single expense should be graded as to how much joy it brings. I tried doing that when we first started tracking our expenses, but my wife felt it was designed to make her feel guilty, so I took a more general, high-level approach. Ultimately, I think the most important thing is to have a system that works for you, and to use that system consistently and truthfully. I feel the data becomes more valuable over time, as you have more data, and it will also capture those expensive-but-infrequent expense (such as a new roof).

EverHopeful
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Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by EverHopeful » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:17 pm

Another YNAB user, desktop version. I have 4 categories in order of importance for expenses: Mandatory, Variable Mandatory, Discretionary and Savings. I've contemplated doing this in Excel but enjoy the report features in YNAB and I've tracked every single dollar since 2012 so it's an ingrained habit to enter the receipts. It's nice to see the snapshot of balances of the checking and cc accounts as well as budget account balances. Also nice to track and compare income from year to year since dh is hourly. Also started noting in the memo the actual Gifts to people if not cash as well as kwh for ComEd, water, etc. to see if any usage is unusual.

Mandatory:
Tithing
Mortgage
Savings
Escrow Taxes & Homeowners Ins
Income Taxes

Variable Mandatory
Nicor
ComEd
Village-H20 & Refuse
Auto Insurance + Tags
Petrol - Hudson
Petrol - Rose
Auto R&M - Hudson
Auto R&M - Rose
Medical/Dental
Home Items + R&M
Education (CU, Sports, etc)
Mobile Phone- R

Discretionary
Groceries (incl tp/pt + cleaning)
R Personal Spending
Pet Food + Vet
Gifts
Toiletries-Vitamins,Tpaste, etc
B Personal Spending
Clothing
Misc (postage, bank fees, etc.)
Holiday & Travel & Boarding
Dining Out
Recreation (Movies,etc)
Donations
Travel
CC fees, membership etc

Savings
Major Home Improvement
Emergency Fund
New Car

jgalt133
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:50 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by jgalt133 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:40 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:37 pm
1. Surprised no one has mentioned GnuCash yet. Free (open source) cross-platform (Windows/Mac/Linux) accounting software. This is my seventh year using it to keep track of every penny.
How do you pull in data from online (e.g., Chase credit cards, etc.)?

samjuno
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:55 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by samjuno » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:09 pm

Also used YNAB (non-subscription version) for several years & use the "Fixed" & "Discretionary" main expense categories w/ multiple subcategories. Tracking everything was tedious, but paid off when deciding to retire & now makes it easier to calculated Funded Ratios periodically.

How to translate that into asset allocations & life style is another whole project.

Monster99
Posts: 229
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Monster99 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:42 am

MSMoney - Sunset version. Free download from Microsoft website, no cloud, no internet access. Works like a big checkbook register with category and memo areas. Can be exported to Excel. Will also track investments.

Pitagoras
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:51 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Pitagoras » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:11 am

I loved Quicken, used it for a few years until I switched PC to Mac, did not get it or whatever. Now I use Excel, but far from the granularity I had achieved with Quicken. I did not integrate with online platforms, I entered it all manually and was happy with it.

I am going to look to the Gnu app someone suggested. Great thread.

jgalt133
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:50 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by jgalt133 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:52 am

samjuno wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:09 pm
Also used YNAB (non-subscription version) for several years & use the "Fixed" & "Discretionary" main expense categories w/ multiple subcategories. Tracking everything was tedious, but paid off when deciding to retire & now makes it easier to calculated Funded Ratios periodically.
What are funded ratios?

jgalt133
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:50 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by jgalt133 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:56 am

Pitagoras wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:11 am
I am going to look to the Gnu app someone suggested. Great thread.
I really love GNU Cash. I use it for business purposes (my single-member LLC). However, I'm looking for something simple to keep track of my personal finances. My wife and I don't need to budget. we are, for the most part, frugal and already know that our income, after maximizing all of our tax-deferred and retirement contributions including HSA, IRA, 401k, etc. approximately matches our expenses. I just want something simple to tell me what percent of my money is going towards clothing, food, etc as well as automated reminders about upcoming bills. Preferably something with automated pull-in from online accounts. Is there anything good out there? I looked at Mint and it does a lot of that (I really like that i can mark that I scheduled my credit card bill payment), but I don't love being the "product". I want to be the client (and pay a company to do this for me). Any good options?

Perhaps GNU cash can do this for me? I haven't played at all with the OFX settings.

samjuno
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:55 pm

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by samjuno » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:15 pm

jgalt133 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:52 am
samjuno wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:09 pm
Also used YNAB (non-subscription version) for several years & use the "Fixed" & "Discretionary" main expense categories w/ multiple subcategories. Tracking everything was tedious, but paid off when deciding to retire & now makes it easier to calculated Funded Ratios periodically.
What are funded ratios?
Here's an explanation:

https://retirementresearcher.com/unders ... ded-ratio/

Njm8845
Posts: 98
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:28 am

Re: Budgeting/Expense tracking

Post by Njm8845 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 4:06 am

dbthegeneral wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 am
Curious how other Bogleheads manage their own finance.. I made a spreadsheet that i use for myself in conjunction with Mint. Mint is used only to export transactions from all accounts into the sheet and then i categorize myself in excel.

I have a tab with a P&L and BS and a summary tab that tracks the shows the main categories YTD, Projected for the year, and 3 year historical. Ive used some other calculations from other peoples sheets in further detail to see what would be required savings based on net worth and withdrawal rates with a few different scenarios.

Tracking categories:
- income
- savings
- utilities
- housing
- transportation
- food
- debt
- insurance/healthcare
- personal care
- education
- leisure/entertainment
- subscriptions
- vacation exp
- holidays/birthdays

The reason that i chose to do it this way was so that i could parse out things like subscriptions from entertainment and see exactly what these are, or holidays/birthdays from leisure entertainment to see how much that one specific item was.

Questions:
1. im curious how other bogleheads use similar things to track spending.
2. do you think there are too many categories here? should i make it a bit simpler and group a few of these together? (i have sub-categories in each)
3. I want to start conversation about savings needed for retirement - as a basic calc, ive taken the net worth, withdrawal rate, avg annual exp and calculated how much each expense category would need to be saved for FI. (similar to mad fientist). I was a bit surprised when calculating the number for food, leisure/entertainment (while taking into consideration that rent/housing is not my largest expense), but i can definitely cut back.
4. what other calculations/forecasts do you use in your own planning?
5. what sort of metrics are others focused on when maintaining a spreadsheet to track personal finance?

db
My excel file has the following 4 tabs:
Income - I distinctly list net pay, 401k contribution, HSA, etc

Expenses - I have 10 categories that never change and various sub-categories that may vary by year. There are also columns for amount, date, account (which credit card or bank acct - so I can track how much each card saves me and this makes it easy to go back and check any entry) and actual transaction description, so I can get as granular as I want in the pivot.

Summary - this shows savings rate, charts of forecasted savings vs previous year actuals, etc

Detail - a pivot which shows category, subcategory, and actual transaction. Can slice by month.



I manually input expenses from credit card transactions every week. It takes maybe 15 minutes and while I understand some pull in costs automatically to save time, In my opinion there is utility in inputting manually.

I personally would have subscriptions as a sub-category but whatever works for you.

The biggest thing I care about is savings. I also track savings rate closely and it’s like a game to me to keep this as high as possible.

I have a separate “finances” file that tracks net worth, has a portfolio X-ray, and aggregates historical data from all my yearly expense files.

Overall sounds like we’re very similar and it’s fun reading about what other people do.

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