Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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DJZ
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:42 pm

Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by DJZ »

A friend is nearing retirement and is doing all the right things with his portfolio, but several times has said "Frankly, I never quite understood where all the money went" and his estimates for annual expense requirement in retirement has an extremely wide range, a factor of two. I think his next step is to figure out where the money actually goes, by using one of the programs available that will download your credit card and bank data, categorize it, and make reports.

I use Quicken for Mac (and love it) but it might be too cumbersome for this. Should I recommend to him YNAB, or perhaps Mint, or something else? I have no experience with these.

Thanks
Last edited by DJZ on Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
tibbitts
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Re: Where did all the money go?

Post by tibbitts »

DJZ wrote: Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:46 am A friend is nearing retirement and is doing all the right things with his portfolio, but several times has said "Frankly, I never quite understood where all the money went" and his estimates for annual expense requirement in retirement has an extremely wide range, a factor of two. I think his next step is to figure out where the money actually goes, by using one of the programs available that will download your credit card and bank data, categorize it, and make reports.

I use Quicken for Mac (and love it) but it might be too cumbersome for this. Should I recommend to him YNAB, or perhaps Mint, or something else? I have no experience with these.

Thanks
I used to do this but find it's not worth the effort any longer. I did it to find out where there were opportunities for savings, and to determine mandatory vs. discretionary expenses. But it was an annoying thing to do with 5 or 6 credit cards per month plus bank charges. With any automated aggregation service there are times when things don't work (the service has to catch up to website changes or enhanced security.) I don't think it's that difficult to determine the recurring mandatory expenses, which is really what you want for a retirement baseline. For the rest, you really have to have a multi-year picture (I did mine for twenty-plus years) so you include things like vehicle and roof and hvac replacements. And then you have to apply an inflation factor... so really I think with just a little more thinking about it he could get a better idea of expenses without a lot more effort.
Impatience
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Re: Where did all the money go?

Post by Impatience »

tibbitts wrote: Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:23 am
DJZ wrote: Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:46 am A friend is nearing retirement and is doing all the right things with his portfolio, but several times has said "Frankly, I never quite understood where all the money went" and his estimates for annual expense requirement in retirement has an extremely wide range, a factor of two. I think his next step is to figure out where the money actually goes, by using one of the programs available that will download your credit card and bank data, categorize it, and make reports.

I use Quicken for Mac (and love it) but it might be too cumbersome for this. Should I recommend to him YNAB, or perhaps Mint, or something else? I have no experience with these.

Thanks
I used to do this but find it's not worth the effort any longer. I did it to find out where there were opportunities for savings, and to determine mandatory vs. discretionary expenses. But it was an annoying thing to do with 5 or 6 credit cards per month plus bank charges. With any automated aggregation service there are times when things don't work (the service has to catch up to website changes or enhanced security.) I don't think it's that difficult to determine the recurring mandatory expenses, which is really what you want for a retirement baseline. For the rest, you really have to have a multi-year picture (I did mine for twenty-plus years) so you include things like vehicle and roof and hvac replacements. And then you have to apply an inflation factor... so really I think with just a little more thinking about it he could get a better idea of expenses without a lot more effort.
I think you’re overestimating other peoples’ mental abilities. If all it took to wrangle one’s finances was “a little more thinking” there would be a whole lot less problems in the world.

The fact is most people are really bad with money and with keeping track of their personal affairs in general. It’s a combination of not knowing and not caring. I think OP has a good idea to help his friend. It doesn’t need to be perfect or totally up to date or adjusted for inflation, it just needs to point out the biggest and most obvious issues that can be corrected for big gains. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good and all that.
Topic Author
DJZ
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Re: Where did all the money go?

Post by DJZ »

Right. My own experience with Quicken was very instructive. Just looking for a relatively easy data-driven way for him to pin down what his expenses have actually been. Anyone here have experience with YNAB or Mint or something else?

Thanks
onourway
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by onourway »

YNAB has the best opportunity, IMO, of really creating a change in one’s relationship to money, however it has a steep learning curve that certainly puts some people off. It really takes at least two months to start understanding it and seeing results. Well worth the effort though.
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rob
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by rob »

Tripped over tiller a while ago and was thinking of giving it try...... instead of a software tool it's a tool that extracts the data into a spreadsheet.... Not sure that would work in the scenario you mention but a different option....
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien
dukeblue219
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Re: Where did all the money go?

Post by dukeblue219 »

DJZ wrote: Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:41 am Right. My own experience with Quicken was very instructive. Just looking for a relatively easy data-driven way for him to pin down what his expenses have actually been. Anyone here have experience with YNAB or Mint or something else?

Thanks
There's plenty of YNAB users here, myself included, though some despise paying an annual fee. We find it works great to set aside funds for various things and track our spending.
System1
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by System1 »

I have tried both, started with YNAB last fall and then tried mint. I prefer YNAB. There is definitely a learning curve, but after a couple months it's easy. I mostly use it now near the end of the month to check on the last month and setup the budget for the next month. This only works if you have enough in savings (in accounts that are tracked by YNAB) to cover your next months expenses, this was probably the hardest part to understand for me in the beginning. We use credit cards for spending and then pay off each monthly. YNAB requires that you have enough in savings to cover those balances as well, otherwise it shows overbudget.

If the person. Is willing to commit the energy to YNAB, its worth it. Otherwise, I might just be inclined to recommend Discover's spend analyzer and use that for everything.
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Nate79
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by Nate79 »

I have used mint for years and really like it.
delamer
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by delamer »

Housing, food, transportation, taxes (income and payroll), and medical care make up the majority of expenses for most people. If he can manually go through his credit cards and checking registers and identify those expenses for the last few years as a first step, he probably doesn’t need specialized software.

If he discovers that mamy of his expenses don’t fall into one of those categories, then he can do a deeper dive if needed.

And many accounts’ transactions can be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet.
Jags4186
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by Jags4186 »

Mint is pretty good. I think YNAB is great if you’re anal about this stuff, but I found it to be a little cumbersome. Mint is good if you just want to keep track of and categorize your expenses. Mint is record keeping, YNAB is planning (I haven’t used YNAB in a while).
sailaway
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Re: Where did all the money go? Mint v YNAB etc

Post by sailaway »

I used Mint for a few months to see where any leaks might be occuring, and kept meticulous records the year we moved aboard the boat. But for year to year, long term expense trends, I just download the checking account summary.
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