How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

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12481632
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How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by 12481632 »

Wondering how people efficiently go about tracking their spending/financial picture with quality analysis without having to manually go through credit card statements and essentially constant personal accounting?

I know some credit card companies will show you spend by category online, but I want personalized analysis and a larger picture of my finances. I use Betterment for live tracking my 8-10 accounts (401k, IRAs, checking/saving accounts and credit cards) which spits out a breakdown of my assets/liabilities in a general form and would love something like that for more detailed cash flows (i.e., automated software that scans all my financial data with all of my income/spending linked together in real time). Are there software programs/services out there that offer this? I just don’t have the time to sit down once a month and look at all of my statements to compile full picture like software easily could.
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GerryL
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by GerryL »

12481632 wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:12 am Wondering how people efficiently go about tracking their spending/financial picture with quality analysis without having to manually go through credit card statements and essentially constant personal accounting?

I know some credit card companies will show you spend by category online, but I want personalized analysis and a larger picture of my finances. I use Betterment for live tracking my 8-10 accounts (401k, IRAs, checking/saving accounts and credit cards) which spits out a breakdown of my assets/liabilities in a general form and would love something like that for more detailed cash flows (i.e., automated software that scans all my financial data with all of my income/spending linked together in real time). Are there software programs/services out there that offer this? I just don’t have the time to sit down once a month and look at all of my statements to compile full picture like software easily could.
I've been using Quicken for more than two decades. I find that entering the info serves multiple purposes. In addition to tracking my spending, I am keeping an eye on my spending (in various categories) over time and on the charges that appear on my cards, and I am up close and personal with my investments. Yes, it does require some time each month (I actually go into Quicken 2-4 times each month) but I feel that the time spent is worth it because of the value of understanding my own personal finances rather than trusting that someone or something else is "taking care of it" for me.
manatee2005
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by manatee2005 »

12481632 wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:12 am Wondering how people efficiently go about tracking their spending/financial picture with quality analysis without having to manually go through credit card statements and essentially constant personal accounting?

I know some credit card companies will show you spend by category online, but I want personalized analysis and a larger picture of my finances. I use Betterment for live tracking my 8-10 accounts (401k, IRAs, checking/saving accounts and credit cards) which spits out a breakdown of my assets/liabilities in a general form and would love something like that for more detailed cash flows (i.e., automated software that scans all my financial data with all of my income/spending linked together in real time). Are there software programs/services out there that offer this? I just don’t have the time to sit down once a month and look at all of my statements to compile full picture like software easily could.
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bogleblitz
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by bogleblitz »

mint for credit card, checking, savings, mortgage.
Personalcapital for 401k and vanguard.

The reason I separate them instead of all together was the total net worth could go up/down by 10k or more due to stock market. So I was not sure if I bought something that was 10k or my stock market networth went down 10k.
Now, I can view mint.com daily/weekly and not worry about the total networth amount.
personalcapital i visit monthly.
onourway
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by onourway »

YNAB for managing cash flow, a spreadsheet for managing overall assets. Separated for the same reasons as @bogleblitz above.

I update the spreadsheet about twice per year or when I feel like it.

YNAB takes about 1 minute per day on average; perhaps an extra 10 minutes once or twice per month. It’s the single best tool I’ve used for really nailing down our expenses and increasing our savings rate to the max.

You easily have time to do this. With 8-10 accounts you will spend more time chasing account log ins than you would just manually updating a spreadsheet to get your overall picture.
CalcHP12c
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by CalcHP12c »

Overall -vanguard website quarterly. Update non vanguard shares and use portfolio watch tools.

Budget - I do a simple family budget calculation on annual basis. Includes all automated savings targets, weekly cash allowance, recurring bills and expenses. Divide by 12 and compare to monthly income. That’s the amount we can spend! Charge all expenses, then I only need to track 1 bill. As long as our average monthly credit card stays below budget amount, we are good. So simple, no category tracking! No overthinking. Takes 2 minutes to update if a significant change in bill or income occurs.
runner3081
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by runner3081 »

We don't spend a ton, so tracking with manual entry on Google sheets works.

However, I break spending down in two ways:

Manually tracked - Variable expenses, food, auto gas, household items, gifts, clothes, etc.

Updated annually (based on previous 12 months or current renewal rate): Insurance, electricity, utilities, etc.

We usually end up with 50-70 entries a month that are manually tracked.

Never an issue and hardly takes time. Helps that I am OCD :)
djunkins
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by djunkins »

onourway wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:11 am YNAB for managing cash flow, a spreadsheet for managing overall assets. Separated for the same reasons as @bogleblitz above.

I update the spreadsheet about twice per year or when I feel like it.

YNAB takes about 1 minute per day on average; perhaps an extra 10 minutes once or twice per month. It’s the single best tool I’ve used for really nailing down our expenses and increasing our savings rate to the max.

You easily have time to do this. With 8-10 accounts you will spend more time chasing account log ins than you would just manually updating a spreadsheet to get your overall picture.
I use YNAB for budgeting, PersonalCapital for investments/planning, and a spreadsheet to keep our portfolio allocations in line. We used Mint.com and Quicken for budgeting up until last July and have found YNAB much better and well worth the money for us. YNAB is one of the best pieces of software I've ever used and it's adaptation of simple envelope-based budgeting is genius in how it incorporates different spending goals and credit cards. I'm very happily "stuffing" $6.50/month into my digital YNAB envelope to pay the renewal in July. ;)
Dandy
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Dandy »

If you want to understand your spending habits to see where your money is going you probably need some quicken type software. I spend a few minutes looking through my CC statements and kind of segregate their use e.g. one is for entertainment out, the other for ad hoc shopping and the 3rd for car related expenses.

I am more interested in expense creep so I use Xcel spreadsheet to post check register (remember those) entries to about 20 categories e.g. 1 for each CC, utility, insurance product, cell phone provider, etc. Takes about 1/2 hour a month. Formulas to calc monthly and YTD totals and Ave monthly expense. I exclude some discretionary expenses like large gifts to our kids so I get a truer picture of our normal run rate.

Once a month I get the month end balances of accounts at each firm to determine our overall assets in a few categories:
No Loss of principal (e.g. FDIC products), short term bonds, Large, Small and International equities. Get overall allocation and the allocation for each category e.g. TIRA, Roth, Joint Account, etc. Take an hour or so. Once spreadsheet is set up with good formulas the data entry takes only a few minutes.

So, 2-3 hours a month to keep track of expenses and assets. Being retired that is not a problem.
Old Sage(brush)
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Old Sage(brush) »

Morningstar portfolio tracker is great was using it when free through 401k. No longer have it now using Schwab performance report tool, not as good on detailed analysis. On expenses I don’t sweat it just keep a high level view on what comes in and what goes out and if it’s close I don’t look deeper.
Nowizard
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Nowizard »

We only track financial assets. As long as they are in excellent shape we have no need to track expenses or question what one spouse or another spends. This is based on having excellent finances and a history by both of thoughtful spending and conversation before major purchases are made. We are fortunate to be able to avoid carrying around receipts and recording them on spread sheets as we did when itemizing in the past.

Tim
mptfan
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by mptfan »

I use my own custom made Google sheets.
scrabbler1
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by scrabbler1 »

I have a projected checkbook register (spreadsheet) I plan out for the year so I can make sure I carry forward surplus money into later months which have larger, "lumpier" expenses. My actual checkbook register spreadsheet has extra columns I slot inflows and outflows into. For some of them (used for tax purposes), I project them out for the year because I have this linked to a skeleton income tax form so I can see how that is doing throughout the year and can determine estimated income tax payments, for example.

Another spreadsheet shows the bigger, multi-year picture. That has annual totals of investment income and expenses along with projected inflation rates, shown separately for medical and non-medical expenses.
orlandoman
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by orlandoman »

Recently started using Money Dance, https://moneydance.com/. Very happy with it.

MD is a Quicken alternative, without an annual fee. One time purchase for $49.95. Free trial, no info required for download, limits number of transactions ... but, you can pretty much set the whole system up & see how it works with the free trial.

Here are a couple of Quicken vs Money Dance comparisons:
https://www.doughroller.net/money-manag ... s-quicken/
https://wallethacks.com/moneydance-review/

FYI, for the free trial, just go to the download page & download the software. It is the full version & has a note at the top that says it's limited to 100 transactions.
Last edited by orlandoman on Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I have my own spread sheet for investments.

I've never had a budget in my life and haven't needed one. I tend to oversave vs spend too much. I do keep tabs on credit card spend through online transaction lists for each credit card. If something big is unknown, I'll ask my wife about it.
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KlangFool
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

I do the "Pay Yourself First" saving method. Every paycheck, I deposited the portion of the paycheck that I can spend into my checking account. I keep an additional 3 months of expense in my checking account. I just look at my checking account balance every few months. If the balance is below the 3 months of expense limit, I reduce my spending. If it is significantly higher, I spend more.

I do not budget. I save 1 year of expense every year.

My expenses are automatically tracked by Quicken. I only look for fraud and strange charges.

KlangFool
KlangFool
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

As per investment, I have a spreadsheet. It is used for rebalancing.

KlangFool
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BolderBoy
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by BolderBoy »

"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
mptfan
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by mptfan »

One of the reasons I use my own spreadsheet is because I own and control my own data, as long as I save it and keep it backed up, I will always have the data and I can always use it how I want. Whereas if you use proprietary software you end up getting trapped because you have years of data in that particular program which may prevent you from switching to another program even if you wanted to because either you can't transfer the data, or if you can it is difficult or cumbersome or you lose some of the data in the process.
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Elsebet
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Elsebet »

Nowizard wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:18 am We only track financial assets. As long as they are in excellent shape we have no need to track expenses or question what one spouse or another spends. This is based on having excellent finances and a history by both of thoughtful spending and conversation before major purchases are made. We are fortunate to be able to avoid carrying around receipts and recording them on spread sheets as we did when itemizing in the past.
We do the same. I have a financial google sheet, one tab has our total assets vs. liabilities and another tab has monthly income vs. expenses tracked.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca
MarkBarb
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by MarkBarb »

Quicken. I use it for macro stuff (asset allocation, account balances, and stuff like that) and micro stuff (spending by category, fraud detection, record keeping). It has been very useful. If I wasn't interested in the micro stuff, I'd probably just use Excel.
Hockey10
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Hockey10 »

I use Personal Capital to track expenses. All of our credit cards and checking accounts are captured there, so every $ we spend ends up in Personal Capital. I have a spreadsheet that tracks our income. I use the Portfolio Manager tool in Morningstar to track our investments.
prairieman
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by prairieman »

Nowizard wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:18 am We only track financial assets. As long as they are in excellent shape we have no need to track expenses or question what one spouse or another spends. This is based on having excellent finances and a history by both of thoughtful spending and conversation before major purchases are made. We are fortunate to be able to avoid carrying around receipts and recording them on spread sheets as we did when itemizing in the past.

Tim
This is the method we use.
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ddunca1944
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by ddunca1944 »

onourway wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:11 am YNAB for managing cash flow, a spreadsheet for managing overall assets. Separated for the same reasons as @bogleblitz above.

I update the spreadsheet about twice per year or when I feel like it.

YNAB takes about 1 minute per day on average; perhaps an extra 10 minutes once or twice per month. It’s the single best tool I’ve used for really nailing down our expenses and increasing our savings rate to the max.

You easily have time to do this. With 8-10 accounts you will spend more time chasing account log ins than you would just manually updating a spreadsheet to get your overall picture.
+1
Another YNAB user here. Makes it easy to track spending and stay cognizant of where the leaks are. I use a couple of simple spreadsheets to manage the retirement accounts which are, by design, very simple.
sapper1371
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by sapper1371 »

I use Personal Capital for everything. I don’t really pay much attention to monthly spending because it’s not always balanced but instead tally the annual total for each category and record it in a spreadsheet. I have been doing this since 2012 so have pretty good data at this point at where my spending is and can easily see trends I want to adjust.
jaybee9
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by jaybee9 »

mptfan wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:41 pm One of the reasons I use my own spreadsheet is because I own and control my own data, as long as I save it and keep it backed up, I will always have the data and I can always use it how I want. Whereas if you use proprietary software you end up getting trapped because you have years of data in that particular program which may prevent you from switching to another program even if you wanted to because either you can't transfer the data, or if you can it is difficult or cumbersome or you lose some of the data in the process.
Ditto spreadsheet. I want to control my own data and have total control over the process. As to tracking expenses, I do it typically a couple times each week as receipts build up. It's quick. There is no way software could correctly put expenses in my custom categories all the time. I track assets and net worth each month.
student
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by student »

I used Microsoft Money/Quicken for many years. Recently, I decided to stop tracking expenses. I use Fidelity and Personal Capital to track my portfolio and I update it at least once a month.
Nearly A Moose
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Nearly A Moose »

I use YNAB for day to day cost tracking. A bit of a learning curve, then I spend 5 minutes a day, tops. If my wife and I weren’t trying to stay closely coordinated on it, it could be 5 minutes per week. Can give you a lot of nice data depending on how you set up your categories.

I use a spreadsheet to track net worth. Once a quarter, I manually enter the balances on my debt and asset accounts, and the spreadsheet does its magic. Even with about two dozen accounts across about a half dozen or dozen institutions, it only takes about 15-20 minutes to update. And then I don’t look at it again for a quarter. I like it in part because I don’t have to worry about my data getting stuck in someone’s system.
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Dottie57
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Dottie57 »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:44 am I have my own spread sheet for investments.

I've never had a budget in my life and haven't needed one. I tend to oversave vs spend too much. I do keep tabs on credit card spend through online transaction lists for each credit card. If something big is unknown, I'll ask my wife about it.
No budget for me either. Haven’t had a spending problem. I know my allowed amount each month and have been able t pay normal and lumpy expenses. All is well.

Investments all at fidelity. and can see quite well how I am doing.
runner540
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by runner540 »

Nearly A Moose wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:13 pm I use YNAB for day to day cost tracking. A bit of a learning curve, then I spend 5 minutes a day, tops. If my wife and I weren’t trying to stay closely coordinated on it, it could be 5 minutes per week. Can give you a lot of nice data depending on how you set up your categories.

I use a spreadsheet to track net worth. Once a quarter, I manually enter the balances on my debt and asset accounts, and the spreadsheet does its magic. Even with about two dozen accounts across about a half dozen or dozen institutions, it only takes about 15-20 minutes to update. And then I don’t look at it again for a quarter. I like it in part because I don’t have to worry about my data getting stuck in someone’s system.
+1 for YNAB. Recently switched from an elaborate spreadsheet that required manual updates and pulling CSV files from various places, to YNAB. Steep learning curve but excited about it. I still use a spreadsheet that I update quarterly for networth across all assets.
campy2010
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by campy2010 »

For investments, I have a simple spreadsheet where I manually update balances quarterly or sometimes monthly. I have some formulas that add the rows to totals.

For expenses, I resurrected my abandoned Mint account recently, mostly so I can quickly review spending. Mint does the simple aggregation of credit cards and my primary bank account. A few expenses need to be recategorized but overall it does a pretty good job with minimal effort. It has improved since I last used it in 2016 and only took about 10 minutes to link accounts.
Jgrace
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by Jgrace »

I have two spreadsheets that I update monthly. They are essentially a Balance Sheet where I track about 40 asset and liability balances, and an Income Statement which has about 40 different income and spending categories, including taxes and pre/post tax expenses.

The balance sheet takes me about 3 minutes a month to update, and provides me with my Net Worth tracking, among other things. The Income Statement helps me ensure that I have a comfortable cushion between my income and spending.
acegolfer
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by acegolfer »

I built a spreadsheet to track paycheck/income/expense/investments/portfolios/accounts. It gives me a complete picture of my personal finance (money in/out/growing) going back 20 yrs. For data entry, my sheet imports downloaded CSV transaction files. Hence I can update when I want to instead of at a specific time intervals.
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leeks
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by leeks »

A few simple Excel spreadsheets.

Once a month, I login to all accounts to eyeball every transaction and update the excel sheet that lists the balance of all the family accounts. Every 2-4 years a small fradulent transaction or two sneaks in somewhere and we have to get a card number cancelled and reissued.

We do not track every actual purchase by budget category. Instead we look once per year (or when something changes) at the monthly picture of known expenses and set our savings plans. Each paycheck we contribute the planned savings amounts, set aside money for rent and regular bills, and spend the rest as desired.

In part this is easy to do because our income is extremely high. But it is basically the same system I used on my own when I made only a modest salary and it worked then too. If one wants to spend less, one simply ups the money going straight into savings.
pmr2017
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by pmr2017 »

I use an excel spreadsheet I built and have refined over the last couple of years. It's worked well for me and I keep things relatively simple. Every morning I look through my accounts and record all posted transactions and formulas do the rest for me. I like doing things a bit more manual as it forces me to really pay attention to where I am spending my money and I quite enjoy updating the sheet everyday.

As far as investments and savings go, I check each account once a month and updated the associated tabs in my spreadsheet.

In total I spend 3-4 hours a week and it's time well spent.
jerrysmith
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by jerrysmith »

We use YNAB for budgeting/expense tracking. Changed our lives.

Not big investors, I have an IRA containing roll overs from previous gigs.
I don't own individual securities so I just check the IRA quarterly.
Everything else is still in pensions/457/403 and I look at quarterly as well.
LiterallyIronic
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by LiterallyIronic »

I use a couple of spreadsheets. One has a bunch of columns for different spending categories (mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc). Then I go through our bank statement every week or two and write all the transactions down, correctly categorizing the expenses.

For net worth, I have a different spreadsheet that I update on the first of every month. I just note the balances of our liquid accounts, our retirement accounts, outstanding mortgage balance, and estimated home value, which gets me our net worth. I graph the change over time.
rage_phish
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Re: How do you track your monthly expenses/overall financial picture?

Post by rage_phish »

Google sheets
Wife updates it at the end of every month
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