Are shiny money apps really necessary?

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Topic Author
guppyguy
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Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

I recently began evaluating Banktivity as a replacement for our current YNAB+Excel solution to managing all things family finance. I've gotten about a week into learning the program and setting up categories and budgets when it dawned on me: I could point to only a handful of actual benefits from all of these activities. I found myself staring at Banktivity because why then? Shiny reports? Gawking at our "wealth"? A neurotic tendency to balance everything? It appears to be a great app and this is not meant as a dig on that app as I could have picked any service out there, but what is really the purpose?

At 47 I've probably spent 10x the amount of time truly required to manage or monies....a trend I do not want to continue.

So to answer the question in the title, at least for me, no.

Who else has "burned the ship" or deleted the excel spreadsheet or flushed Quicken? What did you consider the essentials and what where the things/ideas that most got in the way?

For me all I really want to know is:
  • * General expense history (in order to determine eventual SWR)
    * Annual Net Worth tabulation...maybe/maybe not
    * Periodic asset allocation for risk mitigation...monthly?
    * Enough liquidity for bills and discretionary spending
I'd like to be able to put everything on the back of an envelope basically.

What am I missing?
MAKsdad
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by MAKsdad »

Personally, I tend to agree with you. For me, a budget only needs two lines: "in" and "out", and excel has done a perfectly good job of letting me track that, plus my AA and net worth. I update my spreadsheet monthly and it takes less than 10 minutes.

That said, I do feel like some people (including my younger self) benefit from having a detailed budget, mental accounting, etc. to stay on track with goals.
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climber2020
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by climber2020 »

I've tracked my spending the last few years using textedit (the mac equivalent of wordpad).

Recurring monthly bills which are usually the same every month plus the one credit card I use for everything else. No spreadsheet or apps necessary.
vas
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by vas »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:10 pm Who else has "burned the ship" or deleted the excel spreadsheet or flushed Quicken? What did you consider the essentials and what where the things/ideas that most got in the way?

What am I missing?
I've tracked net worth and asset allocation in a spreadsheet for years. I update it occasionally. Sometimes just once a year, sometimes more often. Never felt that I needed to know my net worth to the penny on any given Tuesday afternoon. Maybe there is some utility in that for young adults just getting started.

Like many here, I manage my risk via asset allocation and insurance. I'm happy to check the AA once a year so no need for an app.

Just recently I've started to use Mint to track expenses in an effort to quantify expected retirement spending. While not absolutely necessary, it does simplify the process once you have categories set up. I found it took some time to adjust the spending categories to the right level of detail; very simple in my case. The capability of the software makes it tempting to over categorize and over complicate. That may be useful for someone trying to figure out where all the money is going but I found that just a few broad categories are sufficient. Not sure I'll stick with it more than a year or two but we'll see. You may find one of the financial tools you mentioned useful for this purpose.

I don't think you're missing anything. No wrong answers, just a matter of dialing in what works for you.
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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Taylor Larimore »

guppyguy:

Once a year I look at my Vanguard statement (3 funds).

It gives me all the information that I need.

Taylor
Jack Bogle's Words of Wisdom: "In the stock market the more elaborate and abstruse the mathematics the more uncertain and speculative are the conclusions we draw therefrom."
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SmileyFace
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by SmileyFace »

I used Quicken for something like 20 years then one day asked myself "what am I still doing this for" and decided to stop nickel and diming every expenditure. Thr only thing I missed for a while was the database search aspect "How much did we pay f or rug cleaning last year?" - but those use cases were few and within no time I missed nothing.
I estimate expenses based upon year end bank and credit card statements for retirement planning purposes and simply make sure I have enough in the bank to cover monthly cash flow.
To me - it felt like financial imdependence to finally stop tracking, to the nickel, how much I was spending on each category. Who cares if I spend an extra $200 a year on cofee out if I am meeting my savings goals?
I use a simple spreadsheet to track my investments and to summarize yearly expenses.
lazynovice
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lazynovice »

Our financial life is down to five spreadsheets.

1) Asset allocation spreadsheet used to calculate AA across our many accounts (2 401(k)s, 2 Roth’s, 3 brokerage accounts and 2 529s). I update it every two weeks to figure out where to put new money. Takes 5 minutes. Don’t see a way to eliminate it. I’d need it at some point to rebalance.

2) Annual “budget” with four categories- income (has lines for W-2, interest and dividends), taxes (broken out by type), contributions to Investments (by type) and spending (with no detail). We both refer to this to see how we are doing each year. I have it dating back to 2010 when I stopped doing detailed tracking. About 10 minutes a month required but I do like to play with it.

3) A sheet that calculates our federal tax estimate so I can make sure I am not over or under withholding. Updates automatically when I update number 2 but requires updating with new tax tables annually.

4) A sheet that estimates taxable dividends for the year. I wouldn’t get this detailed if I weren’t increasing my taxable account pretty significantly. Updated twice a month when I buy new shares and then at quarter end when dividends come in. I could get rid of it and just have a bigger variance in my tax estimate if I wanted. Created during boring part of lockdown.

5) A cash flow projection spreadsheet that helps me to plan taxable deposits to brokerage. This one is new because I was bored and could be easily ditched. It allows me to deposit to taxable by pay period without holding too much out just in case or putting too much in a creating a problem when a bill hits. It is by bill not expense category, so “Fidelity credit card” is one line item that has almost all expenses on it.

The first three I wouldn’t do without. The last two are just hobby horses.
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dak
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by dak »

Phase one: When my wife and I were first married, we (I) carefully tracked all money flows in Quicken. It was modestly useful as money was not overly plentiful in our early years. Eventually I realized that I had never made a single decision based on all of this detailed information that I was gathering.

Phase two: Drop quicken, have investment automated, and live on the rest. Simple and served us for many years - throughout most of our working careers in fact.

Phase Three (current) : After retirement, started tracking things to a modest level of accuracy again in a Google spreadsheet. Mostly to provide visibility on how we are doing relative to our expected spending. I do not obsess over every penny, nor do I worry about the categories overly much. This phase may end rather quickly if we simply start giving ourselves a monthly "paycheck" rather than doing ad hoc money withdrawals from investments.

I do track net worth closely because a guy has to obsess about something. And, yes, home equity is included in net worth. 8-)
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Harry Livermore
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Harry Livermore »

lazynovice wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:54 pm
Our financial life is down to five spreadsheets.
Similar, but just the first two for us:
"snapshot" spreadsheet showing net worth, AA, individual positions, estimated future cash flows, etc.
"budget" spreadsheet with 8 categories of expenses, and several of income, with a "start" and "end" number for cash on hand.
Never used a shiny money app. I have a pal that loves YNAB- I am happy for him but see no utility for me.
Cheers
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

I am using Moneydance to track both income and expenses against a budget. It works for me. As far as decision-making goes, I mentally divide spending into regular and irregular. The irregular spending is what needs to be managed. In theory I could just track that and ignore the regular spending.
Topic Author
guppyguy
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

lazynovice wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:54 pm
2) Annual “budget” with four categories- income (has lines for W-2, interest and dividends), taxes (broken out by type), contributions to Investments (by type) and spending (with no detail). We both refer to this to see how we are doing each year. I have it dating back to 2010 when I stopped doing detailed tracking. About 10 minutes a month required but I do like to play with it.

The first three I wouldn’t do without. The last two are just hobby horses.
lazynovice and others -
How do you measure your budget? Basic account balances?

Any finally, if your considering making a big irregular purchase how do answer the question "can I afford it?"

Anybody got a spreadsheet example (empty of course) they would be willing to share.

Thank you-
Gup
runner540
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by runner540 »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:10 pm I recently began evaluating Banktivity as a replacement for our current YNAB+Excel solution to managing all things family finance. I've gotten about a week into learning the program and setting up categories and budgets when it dawned on me: I could point to only a handful of actual benefits from all of these activities. I found myself staring at Banktivity because why then? Shiny reports? Gawking at our "wealth"? A neurotic tendency to balance everything? It appears to be a great app and this is not meant as a dig on that app as I could have picked any service out there, but what is really the purpose?

At 47 I've probably spent 10x the amount of time truly required to manage or monies....a trend I do not want to continue.

So to answer the question in the title, at least for me, no.

Who else has "burned the ship" or deleted the excel spreadsheet or flushed Quicken? What did you consider the essentials and what where the things/ideas that most got in the way?

For me all I really want to know is:
  • * General expense history (in order to determine eventual SWR)
    * Annual Net Worth tabulation...maybe/maybe not
    * Periodic asset allocation for risk mitigation...monthly?
    * Enough liquidity for bills and discretionary spending
I'd like to be able to put everything on the back of an envelope basically.

What am I missing?
YNAB for managing monthly budget with spouse on a daily basis. Spreadsheet updated several times per year with net worth.
shess
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by shess »

I know for myself that part of why I use Quicken to track things a little bit excessively is because my wife will not track things at all. She is not in the habit of going out and spending huge amounts on completely irrelevant things, but she has no problems writing four checks for big household expenses without checking whether there are funds available to back those checks. I fully realize that me tracking things very closely does not compensate for her not tracking at all, but it keeps me from going off the rails.

That said, I do completely realize that there could be a benefit to ending the close tracking. When I committed to a very passive 3-fund portfolio rather than trying to time everything and pick the direction of everything, it really did help my stress level. That said, I do worry about how much of today's situation is the result of years of tracking, and folding in knowledge learned from tracking. Not so much to say we spend exactly $X on groceries, but rather to notice we have an unwarranted complication that can be removed. (add:) So if I dropped close tracking, it might go well for five or ten years, but then gradually go askew as things changed.
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by pasadena »

runner540 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:45 pm YNAB for managing monthly budget with spouse on a daily basis. Spreadsheet updated several times per year with net worth.
+1 on YNAB. To me it's one of those "necessary" things. Can I live without it? Yes. But it's proven time and again to be the best way for me to control my expenses, mostly the "buying stuff" part. I do have (a lot) more money when I use it.

The rest isn't really necessary. I do enjoy playing with my Excel spreadsheet - forecasting savings and investments (including making sure I have enough money to eat when I front-load my retirement accounts), and keeping an eye on my portfolio, especially rebalancing bands. I also track my net worth. But none of that is necessary, just something I enjoy doing.
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guppyguy
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

I've used YNAB for 10 years but to be honest am pretty sick of categorizing receipts. The app helps but the mental overhead is old.

I think my segway into a non-YNAB world is to reduce the number of envelopes. I've already gone from close to 70 to 46. Several of these are for single expenses (annual homeowners insurance for example) that I like to put aside 1/12 for...so that's useful.

But I can see us going to less than 10 and maybe nothing. I can easily find how much we spent on something by looking for the payee instead of trying to decide if those fancy socks my wife got me for Christmas (which I don't know about, btw) should be in Gifts or Clothing.

It was indispensable starting off but with 120+ days age of money and 6 months of savings outside of YNAB, it is just overhead.
MrJedi
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by MrJedi »

All of my bank accounts, credit cards, etc. are set to send me an email notification of any transaction. This gives me an easy task item to copy over to my spreadsheet. I find expense tracking coupled with income to be useful to have a better grasp of what we can or can't afford each year.
AnnetteLouisan
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by AnnetteLouisan »

I do mine on paper in the back of my daily planner.

One page for budget, monthly, annually and next year

Half a page for net worth tracking, monthly

One page for annual inventory items & shopping lists.

Keeps it simple and basic.
esteen
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by esteen »

I do mine in excel and on Personal Capital because, well, I enjoy it. It's not "time wasted" for me, it's a hobby. But if it were to start sucking up too much of my time I want to spend on other things, then by all means I would streamline and cut out the excess hours.

Addition by subtraction, a great path to happiness.
This post is for entertainment or information only, and should not be construed as professional financial advice. | | "Invest your money passively and your time actively" -Michael LeBoeuf
Mike Scott
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Mike Scott »

I could do my tracking on the back of three envelopes but it is convenient to have them as simple xcel sheets which can be copied, updated, tweaked and to do the math. All the app makers want an audience so they try to convince you to try theirs.
mindboggling
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by mindboggling »

I use Gnu-cash, an open source double-entry accounting program, to track only current year income and expenses.

I also have a short, one-page spreadsheet that calculates:
-- total portfolio size
--percent of total equities
--percent of ex-US equities within total equities.

Nothing else--no future estimates of anything, no projections, no performance numbers
In broken mathematics, We estimate our prize, --Emily Dickinson
lazynovice
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lazynovice »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:40 pm
lazynovice wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:54 pm
2) Annual “budget” with four categories- income (has lines for W-2, interest and dividends), taxes (broken out by type), contributions to Investments (by type) and spending (with no detail). We both refer to this to see how we are doing each year. I have it dating back to 2010 when I stopped doing detailed tracking. About 10 minutes a month required but I do like to play with it.

The first three I wouldn’t do without. The last two are just hobby horses.
lazynovice and others -
How do you measure your budget? Basic account balances?

Any finally, if your considering making a big irregular purchase how do answer the question "can I afford it?"

Anybody got a spreadsheet example (empty of course) they would be willing to share.

Thank you-
Gup
We started with what we spent in 2013 and have given ourselves inflationary raises every year. We usually set it up at the beginning of the year. We plan for everything above that to go into taxable. If there is a big one time item, then we increase the “spend” number for that and take it out the next year. For a long time if we under spent, I kept the extra money in checking for the next month. When COVID hit and spending went way down, I stopped doing that and I just keep enough in checking to pay the next two weeks of bills plus a small flat cushion. So I guess your answer of account balance is right. The checking cushion plus the next two weeks’ bills. The amount that goes into taxable varies by pay period. When my property taxes are due- nothing goes to taxable. When my bonus comes, almost all of it goes to taxable.

How do we know we can afford something? We currently spend or donate about 10-15% of our gross income not including one time items like cars or renovations. Our kids are grown and out of college. Including those items could be 20%. I will caveat it with- we make a lot of money.

So we can afford a lot we don’t buy. We have gotten to the point of we can buy what we want but we don’t want much. Our budget has room for new I phones every few years and new TVs or computers if we want them. Two senior dogs with lots of vet bills and medications. It has enough for a few small vacations per year but no first class trips to Europe. That would be a one time item.

If we wanted something extravagant, like a big $100k renovation, the way we would measure it is how much it cuts into our savings rate and whether that is something we would be willing to do. We can afford it but how bad do we want it?

Sometime in our mid 30s we read on this forum the concept of taxes are a third, spending is a third and investments are a third. You could probably use taxes at 20%, spending at 40% and investments at 40% or any proportion that works. Some months you spend more and some you spend less.

That worked for us for several years but eventually raises made the spend number higher than we were willing to spend and we switched to a fixed spend number.
“I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.” Nomadland
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Kenkat
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Kenkat »

I overall enjoy using Quicken to manage things but am careful not to overdo it either. For example, I do not categorize receipts down to a detail level. If I have an expense for Wal-Mart, that goes into “Household”. If I have an expense for “Kroger”, that goes into “Groceries”. Do I buy groceries sometimes at Wal-Mart and household items sometimes at Kroger? Yes I do. Do I care that I don’t capture that nuance? No I do not.

I don’t really budget at all beyond just looking at total dollars in, total dollars out, are we good. But I do like having access to spending history; that has been a great tool as I am planning for upcoming retirement. I also value automatic downloads of credit card and investment transactions. A big time saver overall for me.

I probably spend an hour a week on it total; it’s worth it to me but my wife says when I die, she’s not doing “all this” anymore.

When I die, she can do whatever she wants. :wink:
Socal77
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Socal77 »

Not necessary
bob60014
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by bob60014 »

I can look at a glance at my bank and investment accounts and know where I stand. No need for apps.
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by abuss368 »

Taylor Larimore wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:45 pm guppyguy:

Once a year I look at my Vanguard statement (3 funds).

It gives me all the information that I need.

Taylor
Jack Bogle's Words of Wisdom: "In the stock market the more elaborate and abstruse the mathematics the more uncertain and speculative are the conclusions we draw therefrom."
Hi Taylor -

I recall you and I discussing over the years the many benefits of simplicity and then drilling down into individual questions and topics.

Our journey towards simplicity included:

* removing Quicken after over a decade of use saving time and money.
* closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
* deleting various spreadsheets saving time.
* automating all transfers and payments.
* using only one credit card.
* non-financially decluttering a ton of stuff in the house.

Both our financial and non-financial lives are night and day in difference and much lower stress from less to do and worry about. This made more time for rewarding avenues with family and friends.

I will always be thankful.

Best.
Tony
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
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abuss368
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by abuss368 »

bob60014 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:15 pm I can look at a glance at my bank and investment accounts and know where I stand. No need for apps.
Hi bob60014 -

Simple and effective wins every time!
👍
Tony
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
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StevieG72
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by StevieG72 »

Taylor Larimore wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:45 pm guppyguy:

Once a year I look at my Vanguard statement (3 funds).

It gives me all the information that I need.

Taylor
Jack Bogle's Words of Wisdom: "In the stock market the more elaborate and abstruse the mathematics the more uncertain and speculative are the conclusions we draw therefrom."
I love the simplicity!

I don’t use any software to track my finances. I do have a spreadsheet that loosely tracks my investment account balance along with contributions for each year. I recently updated my spreadsheet and had to catch up a few years. I am frugal but nature so don’t find a budget necessary.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
lazynovice
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lazynovice »

Kenkat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:04 pm I overall enjoy using Quicken to manage things but am careful not to overdo it either. For example, I do not categorize receipts down to a detail level. If I have an expense for Wal-Mart, that goes into “Household”. If I have an expense for “Kroger”, that goes into “Groceries”. Do I buy groceries sometimes at Wal-Mart and household items sometimes at Kroger? Yes I do. Do I care that I don’t capture that nuance? No I do not.
That was what killed me. If I went to Target and bought food, clothes, school supplies and cleaning supplies, it meant a lot of time categorizing.
“I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.” Nomadland
runner540
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by runner540 »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:13 pm I've used YNAB for 10 years but to be honest am pretty sick of categorizing receipts. The app helps but the mental overhead is old.

I think my segway into a non-YNAB world is to reduce the number of envelopes. I've already gone from close to 70 to 46. Several of these are for single expenses (annual homeowners insurance for example) that I like to put aside 1/12 for...so that's useful.

But I can see us going to less than 10 and maybe nothing. I can easily find how much we spent on something by looking for the payee instead of trying to decide if those fancy socks my wife got me for Christmas (which I don't know about, btw) should be in Gifts or Clothing.

It was indispensable starting off but with 120+ days age of money and 6 months of savings outside of YNAB, it is just overhead.
It’s indispensable for us: couldn’t maintain our lifestyle and aggressive saving without it. There’s a middle ground between nothing and 46-70 categories!
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tetractys
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by tetractys »

Definitely track for tax, income, and expense categories, and as a guard. Expedient consistency is the key to really save time and money. Accuracy and thoroughness proves honesty and is a legal bull work.
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by AerialWombat »

abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
For entertainment purposes only.
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by abuss368 »

AerialWombat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:43 pm
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
Never had any issue and long time customer of bank. Do you have any examples?

Tony
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
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AerialWombat
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by AerialWombat »

abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:50 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:43 pm
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
Never had any issue and long time customer of bank. Do you have any examples?

Tony
I mean some technical glitch that prevents you from accessing online banking for a few days, or that makes an ATM card or credit card stop working for a few days. Outages do happen.
For entertainment purposes only.
Katietsu
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Katietsu »

abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:50 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:43 pm
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
Never had any issue and long time customer of bank. Do you have any examples?

Tony
One that I have both experienced and read about here is a bank account being frozen or without accessible funds due to a fraudulent transaction. Though with a credit card and an investments account, I suspect that you have the means to work around a temporary bank account problem if you needed to.

Back when cash was more important, I always had access to two banks and two ATMs. Now I make sure I travel with two credit cards.
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AerialWombat
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by AerialWombat »

Katietsu wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:02 am
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:50 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:43 pm
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
Never had any issue and long time customer of bank. Do you have any examples?

Tony
One that I have both experienced and read about here is a bank account being frozen or without accessible funds due to a fraudulent transaction. Though with a credit card and an investments account, I suspect that you have the means to work around a temporary bank account problem if you needed to.

Back when cash was more important, I always had access to two banks and two ATMs. Now I make sure I travel with two credit cards.
Gotcha. Maybe it's just because I live in a small town where most merchants only take cash. I've been considering consolidating to two banks. I don't need 8. :oops:
For entertainment purposes only.
JohnFiscal
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by JohnFiscal »

A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?

eg: checking accounts, savings, credit cards, investment accounts, etc? I am getting the impression that many people do not do so.

Myself, I do. I suppose a personality thing or perhaps doing this ingrained my personality, and I want to keep aware of my spend rate, and watch for potential errors not of my making (which have happened).

In my case, so I do keep close track of accounts with all transactions, so I can readily reconcile with statements, etc. I suppose it's old-fashioned but I see no other way for the task to get done without abdicating.
shess
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by shess »

abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:50 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:43 pm
abuss368 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:22 pm * closing multiple bank accounts.
* consolidating to one bank.
* consolidating investment accounts.
Not to hijack the thread, but do you ever worry about getting locked out of the one bank account, leaving you temporarily unable to pay a bill or get cash?
Never had any issue and long time customer of bank. Do you have any examples?
I once had accounts at a bank locked for almost a week, because they were worried about fraud. I had opened a new CD, and when they looked at things my birth date and my wife's birth date didn't match up. Our birth dates were swapped. They aren't even remotely similar in any way. So my guess is that someone at the bank made a transcription error. Of course, nobody ever explained things to me.

All things considered, they did things as well as one might expect. It was scary, because obviously they needed to treat everyone as suspect until they figured things out, but from my POV there was no way to tell that my bank account WASN'T getting cleared out by someone. Of course, since we were back in in a week, having a backup account didn't provide any real benefit, but in the middle of being locked out we didn't know that would be the outcome.
Gryphon
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Gryphon »

JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
Yes, absolutely. I'm downloading the statements anyway for record keeping so it only takes an extra minute to reconcile in Quicken, and every once in a while I find that I made a mistake somewhere.
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
I reconcile at least weekly to the online account. I rarely look at the statements themselves, and I no longer receive them in hard copy form.
minimalistmarc
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by minimalistmarc »

guppyguy wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:10 pm I recently began evaluating Banktivity as a replacement for our current YNAB+Excel solution to managing all things family finance. I've gotten about a week into learning the program and setting up categories and budgets when it dawned on me: I could point to only a handful of actual benefits from all of these activities. I found myself staring at Banktivity because why then? Shiny reports? Gawking at our "wealth"? A neurotic tendency to balance everything? It appears to be a great app and this is not meant as a dig on that app as I could have picked any service out there, but what is really the purpose?

At 47 I've probably spent 10x the amount of time truly required to manage or monies....a trend I do not want to continue.

So to answer the question in the title, at least for me, no.

Who else has "burned the ship" or deleted the excel spreadsheet or flushed Quicken? What did you consider the essentials and what where the things/ideas that most got in the way?

For me all I really want to know is:
  • * General expense history (in order to determine eventual SWR)
    * Annual Net Worth tabulation...maybe/maybe not
    * Periodic asset allocation for risk mitigation...monthly?
    * Enough liquidity for bills and discretionary spending
I'd like to be able to put everything on the back of an envelope basically.

What am I missing?
We have a one fund portfolio, 1 bank account, 1 credit card. I check the balances regularly on their associates iPhone apps but it literally takes a few seconds. Other than that I don’t do anything.
63humber
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by 63humber »

In a somewhat related tangent, are there any recommended apps that can do 'what-if' testing for retirement related questions such as: when to take Social Security, Roth rollover, are annuity appropriate, gifting, tax implications...

I do some things in Excel, but am afraid its no better than asking myself a question. I'm bringing no new insight to the problem.

thank you
MAKsdad
Posts: 263
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by MAKsdad »

JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?

eg: checking accounts, savings, credit cards, investment accounts, etc? I am getting the impression that many people do not do so.

Myself, I do. I suppose a personality thing or perhaps doing this ingrained my personality, and I want to keep aware of my spend rate, and watch for potential errors not of my making (which have happened).

In my case, so I do keep close track of accounts with all transactions, so I can readily reconcile with statements, etc. I suppose it's old-fashioned but I see no other way for the task to get done without abdicating.
I review my CC statements for potential fraudulent charges each month prior to paying the bill. When I enter my monthly spending in my budget tracker, by default I have to scan through transactions in my checking account. Beyond that, I don't "reconcile" anything. We write maybe 15 checks a year, so it's not like outstanding checks are a major issue. I keep far more cash than I need to...I could go 3-4 years without looking at my bank balances if I wanted to.
Lastrun
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Lastrun »

Gryphon wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:03 am
JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
Yes, absolutely. I'm downloading the statements anyway for record keeping so it only takes an extra minute to reconcile in Quicken, and every once in a while I find that I made a mistake somewhere.
This^^^^^^^

I don't keep a ton in checking so I reconcile to catch mistakes and missing transactions.

I use Quicken and find it helpful, but I have a very simple philosophy and that is I have just a handful of broad categories, less than 10. I also have a simple asset allocation spreadsheet. Someone upthread posted they have 70 budget categories and that just seems unwieldly to me.

I use sort of a 50/30/20 budget approach in my life with a caveat. If my savings goal is met, I honestly care little about the rest. I don't live a high lifestyle, but am also blessed with a good income. But I am approaching retirement and Quicken has been helpful in looking at the bigger picture of what my base spend is and this will help with a modified LMP approach I am using.

But life is too short to worry whether the money I spend at Target was for clothing or groceries, or both.
Lastrun
Posts: 444
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Lastrun »

63humber wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:30 am In a somewhat related tangent, are there any recommended apps that can do 'what-if' testing for retirement related questions such as: when to take Social Security, Roth rollover, are annuity appropriate, gifting, tax implications...

I do some things in Excel, but am afraid its no better than asking myself a question. I'm bringing no new insight to the problem.

thank you
You can look around for threads on this but there is the BH Retirement Portfolio Model spreadsheet

Maxifi is often discussed here.

Also, some BH's will go with Mike Zoril's Planvision for a low fee to access his professional planning software package.
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Kenkat
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Kenkat »

Gryphon wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:03 am
JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
Yes, absolutely. I'm downloading the statements anyway for record keeping so it only takes an extra minute to reconcile in Quicken, and every once in a while I find that I made a mistake somewhere.
I do as well, using the “Reconcile” function in Quicken for Checking and Credit Card accounts. For other investment type accounts, I don’t reconcile them monthly but just make sure the share balances match when I do Update i.e. Transaction Download.

I do the Update in Quicken twice a week or so to keep an eye on credit card activity.
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lthenderson
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lthenderson »

I did Quicken for a couple years but gave it up for many of the same reasons. I hated having to reconcile one time expenses that seem to crop up now again in life and at the end of the day, don't care of how much I pay in expenses yearly. I am much more concerned with how much I save every year towards retirement.

I keep a simple spreadsheet where I just type in the balance of all my accounts once a month. Takes a couple minutes to do. From that, it tells me how much I have saved since the same time last year and if I'm on track with my financial goals.

The only accounts I reconcile is my checking account which I do monthly. By keeping tabs on it, it allows me to keep more money in higher earning accounts and catches an occasional error.
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guppyguy
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by guppyguy »

minimalistmarc wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:28 am We have a one fund portfolio, 1 bank account, 1 credit card. I check the balances regularly on their associates iPhone apps but it literally takes a few seconds. Other than that I don’t do anything.
Wow, that's pretty lean. So by one bank account you mean just a checking (no savings)? Why not a back up credit card? I've got two CC, just because I've had one hacked before and like having a spare if I need to complete a purchase in another country or something.
Colorado13
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Colorado13 »

I've kept detailed expense worksheets in Excel for many years. I'm considering cutting back on this level of tracking because we save/invest approximately 60% of our income. Taxes comprise another chunk, so it seems that we should be able to spend whatever we want out of the remainder.

The tracking has been useful to monitor inflation and increases in property taxes and similar large expenses. Yet this doesn't impact our investing or saving behaviors.

We maintain a spreadsheet of investment performance and update those on a quarterly basis. We have established income and expense projections in Excel for our upcoming retirement. Otherwise we haven't found a need to use any shiny apps.
lazynovice
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by lazynovice »

JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?

eg: checking accounts, savings, credit cards, investment accounts, etc? I am getting the impression that many people do not do so.

Myself, I do. I suppose a personality thing or perhaps doing this ingrained my personality, and I want to keep aware of my spend rate, and watch for potential errors not of my making (which have happened).

In my case, so I do keep close track of accounts with all transactions, so I can readily reconcile with statements, etc. I suppose it's old-fashioned but I see no other way for the task to get done without abdicating.
I stopped reconciling the checking account when we started using online bill pay. Other than paper checks, there wasn’t anything to reconcile. Our bank (USAA) allows you to enter the paper check into the system and matches it when it clears (although it’s spotty). So little goes through checking, there is little to reconcile. Almost everything goes to credit cards paid off at month end.

We do not match up receipts to the credit card bill the way we should. We review the transactions for anything unusual. We have missed things like being overcharged for a gym membership catching it six months later. We got a refund, but lesson learned that we were not careful enough. But not a big enough lesson to check every single charge against a receipt.
“I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.” Nomadland
Dottie57
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Re: Are shiny money apps really necessary?

Post by Dottie57 »

Gryphon wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:03 am
JohnFiscal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:45 am A related question about this but somewhat tangential, Do people still "reconcile" and "balance" their accounts with monthly statements?
Yes, absolutely. I'm downloading the statements anyway for record keeping so it only takes an extra minute to reconcile in Quicken, and every once in a while I find that I made a mistake somewhere.
I have less than 10 transactions a month in checking. Not much to reconcile.

The 2 credit cards are where I need to verify info.
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