How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills.
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BizMike
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How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by BizMike »

Basically, I am trying to keep track of my personal finances using Excel but it is getting very tedious. Do wanted to ask what are some of the tools you guys use to keep track of your personal finances including expense tracking, savings, investments, etc.
MGBMartin
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by MGBMartin »

Quicken for me since their very first version back in the 80s.
I’ve tried other tools but never warmed up to them.
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atlantaCPA
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by atlantaCPA »

I use Tiller. Love it. Liked using YNAB around 2012 but never got there with the online version. If you’re already using Excel, check out Tiller. Might be a good fit for you.
Parkinglotracer
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Parkinglotracer »

I keep track of monthly and annual expenses with excel but simplify the grouping over the years

For example Now I have entertainment and extras and call it 5 K a month then I lost my monthly bills over $50 like cable, electric, car insurance etc


I do my annual tracking with a list of my funds and account in excel. I have a boglehead 3 fund portfolio with a treasury bond ladder across day 6 accounts so it is not too burdensome. If yours is too complicated I’d consolidate funds and accounts as much as possible.

How detailed do you go? The amount of detail may drive what you use.
kleiner
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by kleiner »

MGBMartin wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 6:41 am Quicken for me since their very first version back in the 80s.
I’ve tried other tools but never warmed up to them.
I have also been using Quicken since the 1990s to keep track of and categorize expenses. It costs about $50 per year and works well enough for my needs.

In addition, I use a separate spreadsheet to (manually) track the amounts in various accounts and the asset allocations. I update this spreadsheet typically once a week.
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slippinsurlies
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by slippinsurlies »

+1 for YNAB.

For family spending and budgeting: YNAB. I tried Quicken Simplifi. It was a good product if you want something more like a register of transactions. Simplifi shows you “what you did.” YNAB is much better for planning your spending before you do it. YNAB shows you “what you plan to do.”

For the family investment portfolio: Nothing. All my investments are with Vanguard and TSP, and the holdings there are very simple. So, checking two websites isn’t much of a burden. I’m also not in the withdrawal phase of life, if that makes a difference.
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WinstonTeracina
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by WinstonTeracina »

Quicken for expense tracking/budgeting, investment tracking and tax planning. Googlesheets for retirement planning

I’ve tried several products and believe quicken to the best, most feature rich product relative to the cost.
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FeralCat
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by FeralCat »

I don't keep track of savings and investments. Because I am 100-percent equities, I know that my portfolio value is volatile. If I checked regularly, I would always be manic or depressed, so I don't check. I calculate my net worth every 3 or 4 years maybe, when the mood strikes. I trust that the system works, and so then focus on the rest of my life.
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Toons
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Toons »

Quicken :happy
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RJC
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by RJC »

I check my bank account and main credit card once a day just to make sure there's no random charge/withdrawal. As for investments, I put everything down in an Excel spreadsheet once a month. It's only about 6-7 accounts so relatively easy for now.
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climber2020
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by climber2020 »

TextEdit document (the Windows equivalent is probably Notepad). It's like a super dumbed down version of Microsoft Word.

Once a month or so I check my investment accounts, which are all on 2 websites so it doesn't take long, and write down the balances and add them all up. I also keep a running tally of how much I've saved and invested year to date to make sure I'm hitting my savings goal.

I don't track expenses other than setting aside enough from each paycheck for recurring bills and a little extra for unexpected expenses. I don't spend much money relative to my income, so tracking this in detail adds little to the overall picture.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Toons wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:13 am Quicken :happy
Yeah. I don’t budget, but it’s good to double check payments and money movements from account to account. Easy. I don’t mind the subscription model; not something that gets my knickers in a twist.
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YeahBuddy
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by YeahBuddy »

I guess we don't track. I check my statements online but we don't go through the trouble of tracking. That seems like a lot of time and work. Wife uses mostly cash so I have no idea where that's going. I'll check my bank, credit card, and investment accounts on a regular basis but that's about it.
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celia
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by celia »

DH and I have a joint trust account and also individual accounts but I have to keep assets belonging to everyone else in a separate account for each person. No co-mingling allowed.

For our accounts, I just keep a spreadsheet that lists just our account balances at the end of the year and how much money was added or removed. It also shows the custodian, account number, account title, and heirs. This is meant to keep our assets easy to locate when we die as well as seeing if we are making financial progress.

I also maintain a list of tax documents (and account numbers) that are needed for our tax return and I don't start taxes until everything is in. (I learned to do this one year when I discovered there was a form I had received but didn't report it.)

I'm no longer tracking individual transactions in life as time is more important than money but just put everything on auto pay from our checking.
livesoft
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by livesoft »

There is a piece of scratch paper on the kitchen table. A new piece appears monthly with my spouse's hand-written upcoming BIG expenses written on it and a rough due date. Otherwise, since I charge all my expenses to a credit card, the credit card company keeps tracks of my expenses for me. My bank keeps track for me of when I pay my bills.

No spreadsheets. No Quicken.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
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tibbitts
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by tibbitts »

BizMike wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 1:42 am Basically, I am trying to keep track of my personal finances using Excel but it is getting very tedious. Do wanted to ask what are some of the tools you guys use to keep track of your personal finances including expense tracking, savings, investments, etc.
For 25 years or so I tracked all my expenses, basically using something similar to Excel. I had to for business purposes and just added in the personal expenses for informational purposes. It was mildly interesting but not worth the effort. Now I don't track expenses in any way. It was always obvious to me what I was spending money on so it's not like I learned anything from the process. I rate the activity pretty high on the waste-of-time-but-okay-if-it's-your-hobby scale.
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Michael Patrick
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Michael Patrick »

Another Quicken user here. I reconcile my checking and credit card accounts monthly.

I like that I can enter expected transactions for future dates, so I can be sure there will be money in the account to cover them.
Hoosier CPA
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Hoosier CPA »

YNAB for cash flow and planning. Spreadsheet for investments/net worth. I log into ynab daily and the update the spreadsheet monthly or quarterly.

I also have a spreadsheet I export ynab data into to do some reporting and planning.

I used to use a spreadsheet for all of it but could never keep up with the data entry. I do like Ynab's "envelope" style budgeting where you just budget the dollars you have. I like that a lot better than say a monthly budget. But I'm frustrated with the reporting aspect of it. I've been thinking of building something similar to ynab in tiller, so that I could build the reports I want. Or learning how to use API to build it from ynab.

There's two questions - where is my money going and where has my money gone. I think ynab is excellent at the 1st but not good at all at the 2nd. I don't think they have intentions of improving the 2nd because their method is to teach you to work with money you have for decision making rather than summarize what is in the past and can't be controlled. I get that to some extent but I think both views are important.
NYCaviator
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by NYCaviator »

1. Simplify and consolidate your accounts. You only need one checking account, one savings/money market, one credit card, and maybe a backup credit card. That'll make tracking things a lot easier.

2. Keep a cushion in checking. That way you won't need to constantly move money around to cover expenses and it allows you to automate things.

3. I use a spreadsheet to track how much money we save and compare that with our income so I have a general idea of our savings rate. It's really simple to do that.

I've tried Quicken but always got rid of it. For me, it just takes too much time to set up properly and keep running. Amex has a really good end of year spending report (and you can run it YTD too) to show what you are spending the most on. I glance at that a couple times a year just to see, but otherwise I don't really care. As long as I'm meeting our savings goals and have money to pay the bills, I don't need to know exactly how much I spent on dog food or dry cleaning last month.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

Now retired. Living on cash flow, with no budget and no annual savings or withdrawals. When we were working, all paychecks were direct deposited to our BoA checking account, with taxes and retirement savings withheld by our employers. We spent what we needed each month, and at the end of the month I transferred all checking account excess above $15K or so to our Vanguard settlement account, which became our emergency/intermediate term savings account for new cars, new house roof or furnace, and annual vacations. Every few months I assessed known upcoming expenses, like a new car or a vacation, and invested the rest of our settlement account, above a minimum balance of $25-30K, in Vanguard index funds.

I checked our annual savings accumulation each year. It ran about 35% of net income, after income taxes, in our thirties, 40-45% in our forties, and 50% in our fifties. These savings rates seemed consistent. If they had ever dropped-off, we would have revisited our "no budget" expenditure pattern, but that never became an issue. We have never had to withdraw any dollars from our taxable savings, and only RMDs from our retirement savings.
Last edited by fourwheelcycle on Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
SuzBanyan
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by SuzBanyan »

kleiner wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:03 am
MGBMartin wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 6:41 am Quicken for me since their very first version back in the 80s.
I’ve tried other tools but never warmed up to them.
I have also been using Quicken since the 1990s to keep track of and categorize expenses. It costs about $50 per year and works well enough for my needs.

In addition, I use a separate spreadsheet to (manually) track the amounts in various accounts and the asset allocations. I update this spreadsheet typically once a week.
I could have written this same post! Quicken and excel for once a week (or so) tracking investments by asset allocation.
catlady
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by catlady »

I update excel once a month with account balances and individual bills (mortgage, gas, electric, etc). Takes about 5 minutes.
Lastrun
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Lastrun »

SuzBanyan wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:56 am
kleiner wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:03 am
MGBMartin wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 6:41 am Quicken for me since their very first version back in the 80s.
I’ve tried other tools but never warmed up to them.
I have also been using Quicken since the 1990s to keep track of and categorize expenses. It costs about $50 per year and works well enough for my needs.

In addition, I use a separate spreadsheet to (manually) track the amounts in various accounts and the asset allocations. I update this spreadsheet typically once a week.
I could have written this same post! Quicken and excel for once a week (or so) tracking investments by asset allocation.
100% the same-Quicken, Excel, but I am 61, so older and not really an app-phone person.

I used Personal Capital in the past, but Quicken is good enough for overall portfolio tracking "graphs, etc.", and I really only trust Excel for rebalancing.

If I really needed budgeting, I might look at something like YNAB.
johnegonpdx
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by johnegonpdx »

Use a combination of spreadsheets and Quicken.
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by minesweep »

I don't track my personal expenses anymore (retired 23 years). I do however use an Excel spreadsheet to track my yearly monetary gifts to my heirs.
One brokerage (Vanguard) and one personal checking account. I do have a spreadsheet to monitor all of my upcoming monthly debits and credits to my checking account, so I don't have an overdraft. Also, makes no sense to keep more money in my checking account then needed (beyond a few hundred buffer amount) when I can get over 5% in VUSXX.

I receive bank account daily notification amounts. And Citi daily alerts summary.
Last edited by minesweep on Mon Jul 08, 2024 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by steadyosmosis »

Much like Livesoft, I just use a calculator, pencil, and the back of an envelope, which gets tossed after filled up, and a new one started.
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by chassis »

BizMike wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 1:42 am Basically, I am trying to keep track of my personal finances using Excel but it is getting very tedious. Do wanted to ask what are some of the tools you guys use to keep track of your personal finances including expense tracking, savings, investments, etc.
Excel for balance sheet and summarized income statement.

RPM model for future cash flow driven net worth forecasting.

Financial account statements (Fidelity, credit card issuer) for detailed transaction review and analysis.
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daleddm
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by daleddm »

livesoft wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:36 am There is a piece of scratch paper on the kitchen table. A new piece appears monthly with my spouse's hand-written upcoming BIG expenses written on it and a rough due date. Otherwise, since I charge all my expenses to a credit card, the credit card company keeps tracks of my expenses for me. My bank keeps track for me of when I pay my bills.

No spreadsheets. No Quicken.
Yup, the use of credit cards to pay for almost everything, then the bank to pay the credit cards, and there it is. In anticipation of retirement, the last 2-3 years of banking payments downloaded monthly to observe and record the average expense amounts, which over that period of time seems a pretty stable track of expenses for review and planning toward longer term liabilities.
cshell2
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by cshell2 »

When MS Money went away I moved to YNAB (maybe 2007?) YNAB isn't much for tracking investments, but for the budget and a check register it's excellent. I have a bunch of Excel spreadsheets I use to track other things.
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by vinhodoporto »

We track account balances and make portfolio adjustments annually at the same time we do taxes, backdoor Roth, and 529 contributions.

Our spending and direct deposit goes through one account so we can check that there. I used to pull down data from the credit cards and categorize spend in to different buckets monthly but found that was too much trouble. That level of visibility would probably be helpful in reducing spending.

We have everything set up to make automatic investments so we know we are hitting our savings and investment goals even if we don’t know down to the penny what else we spent money on.
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mhc
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by mhc »

Excel

One spreadsheet for spending. There is a row for each thing we pay (3 credit cards, several utilities, ATM, medical insurance, ...). It is pretty easy because we use credit cards for as many things as possible.

I also have a spreadsheet that I update once a year that lists all the current balances for our money (bank accounts, investments).

I also keep a spreadsheet of all income and taxes paid. I'm retired, so I need to make sure taxes are paid in a timely manner.

I also keep a spreadsheet for all medical expenses so I can deduct at tax time. This is also used in case we want to take money from HSA.

Once the spreadsheets are set up, I probably only spend 20 minutes a month keeping them updated.
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goodenyou
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by goodenyou »

No budget. Spend by "feel".

Aggregate all assets at Vanguard using Portfolio Visualizer. Update non-Vanguard assets periodically. Use it to track asset allocation and test possible changes in asset allocation.

I get constant emails of credit card spending transactions since my wife and I share an account.
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SevenBridgesRoad
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by SevenBridgesRoad »

What follows is a bit more than just "tracking", but it provides context. We are retired, have pretty regular spending habits and have ample sources of non-portfolio income to cover non-discretionary spending. Short answer to the OP question: No tracking using software such as Quicken. Instead:

1) One checking account at a big bricks-and-mortar bank. All of our routine bills are on autopilot. All portfolio accounts are at Vanguard. We do a quick visual scan of these accounts on-line about once a week.

2) We use the VPW Retirement worksheet once a month.

3) We look at our credit card statement once a month, for two things: a) anything odd?, and b) with our "Monthly Income Reduction" number in mind from the VPW worksheet, we check off discretionary purchases on the cc statement until we match/exceed that number. This reminds us of what we could/would easily do to comfortably reduce spending if portfolio drops require reductions.

4) The only thing maybe a little weird: There are lumpy expenses, such as the property tax bill, big vacations and annual gifts to family/charity. These expenses have to fit within the VPW monthly withdrawal, but the actual spending doesn't occur monthly. We have a "lumpies" account to accumulate those funds on a monthly basis. We use VG Cash Plus for this. Yes it's a bucket, but it helps maintain the simple discipline of withdrawing the VPW amount each month. True, we could draw less than the VPW suggested amount each month but we would quickly lose "visual management". We track the lumpies (what we are accumulating for) on one sheet of actual paper. (This works nicely for us, and I'm open to better ideas on this.)
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by sailaway »

For expenses, I just rely on my checking account's tracking feature. As above, I don't generally categorize cc spending even though that is the vast majority of our spending. My personal CC's from the same bank do automatic categories, but all other CC's are just finance. The one quirk is that my partner's same bank CC's don't show up as spending, even though I am an authorized user. That is the one manual update I make each month so that the total spending is accurate. I have only tracked spending closely when I was looking for places to cut. I know where I could cut right now, but there isn't a need to do so.

For our portfolio, I updated a spreadsheet twice a year to rebalance when RSUs grant. We don't have joint accounts, so this involves logging into every institution we use twice. Once you split out cash/bonds/equities in a few of the accounts, there are 60 some rows, so it is a bit tedious.
Last edited by sailaway on Mon Jul 08, 2024 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
beardsicles
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by beardsicles »

Hoosier CPA wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:52 am YNAB for cash flow and planning. Spreadsheet for investments/net worth. I log into ynab daily and the update the spreadsheet monthly or quarterly.
Exactly how I do it.
bh1
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by bh1 »

Gnucash - https://gnucash.org/

Kinda like Quicken, but free. I started to put everything into it 20+ years ago, so I would have some idea of where our money went, and it became a habit.
cmdreset
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by cmdreset »

BizMike wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 1:42 am Basically, I am trying to keep track of my personal finances using Excel but it is getting very tedious. Do wanted to ask what are some of the tools you guys use to keep track of your personal finances including expense tracking, savings, investments, etc.
If you have a programming background, I recommend and use Beancount https://beancount.github.io/docs/index.html which is an example of plain-text accounting https://plaintextaccounting.org/accounting.

Otherwise, Quicken :)
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Beachey
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Beachey »

atlantaCPA wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 6:44 am I use Tiller. Love it. Liked using YNAB around 2012 but never got there with the online version. If you’re already using Excel, check out Tiller. Might be a good fit for you.
+1 for Tiller, been using it about a month.

I was using Mint mostly to track net worth. Tiller allows me to track net worth and monitor cash flow/transactions. I get a daily email with all transactions. If you truly want to budget, there may be better applications, but I plan on sticking with Tiller once the 30-day trial is up.
KarenC
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by KarenC »

Hoosier CPA wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:52 am YNAB for cash flow and planning. Spreadsheet for investments/net worth. I log into ynab daily and the update the spreadsheet monthly or quarterly.
[…]
That's pretty much what I do. One particular wrinkle for me is using the amount assigned (the YNAB terminology for putting money into virtual envelopes) to determine a target gross income.
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Snowflake
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Snowflake »

I use YNAB for cash flow and tracking my investment accounts. I manually enter the transactions every couple days. I only update the investment accounts about once a month.
millennial1995
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by millennial1995 »

Personal Capital by Empower. I have a NW excel sheet that I update but I pull the data from Personal Capital.
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by ichee_marone »

^
^
^
This. Empower.
Nivek
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Nivek »

Excel spreadsheets. Update my investment balances as I see fit but do an automatic pull for some. For expenses, I download CRV file from our various credit cards and bank account once a year. Do a quick pivot table an type of expense and know what in general we have spent $$$ on. The whole Amazon charge though is getting a little difficult to allocate properly due to so much activity.
jarjarM
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by jarjarM »

I too use Personal Capital to track my expenses, the expense is then downloaded to an excel sheet that give me custom summary (pivot table and all). NW and asset allocation is done on Excel with custom build tracking summaries.
the_wiki
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by the_wiki »

I have not found any value in tracking detailed expenses. Simply looking at CC balances weekly lets me know if I'm spending too much. If I have a surprising CC balance, I just skim the last week or two of transactions on the bank's website and the answers are obvious. I have alerts sent if balances get too high or low.

Investment and saving tracking is pretty easy. None of us on this site should really be doing frequent trades. So just making a simple Excel and manually updating it monthly or quarterly is easy.
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wwhan
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by wwhan »

I use Excel spreadsheet to track overall savings twice a year and a separate Excel spreadsheet for estimated quarterly taxes which I update every month.

A weekly check of bank accounts, Fidelity 401K and credit cards is enough to see if there are any issues.

I also use the Vanguard Summary webpage to track overall savings weekly and update "Outside investments you update yourself". I double check the asset allocation calculated by Vanguard with my Excel spreadsheet and the results are very close.

I pay everthing I can (without a surcharge) on credit cards, then look at & save the annual yearly CC summaries at the end of the year, which give me a good idea of expenses. Most expenses are automatically paid.

I don't really have budget.
Lastrun
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Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by Lastrun »

the_wiki wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 11:37 am I have not found any value in tracking detailed expenses. …..
(emphasis mine)

Can I ask what stage of your investment life are you?

I am recently retired, and honestly tracked expenses with a broad brush, but I found the data incredibly helpful in the decision of when to retire, in terms of things like all the heuristics people use——25X, VPWs 50% required flexibility, LMP construction, etc.

I also found it incredibly helpful to have this data when using retirement planning software (free or pay) to estimate expenses in retirement in terms of absolute necessary spend and aspirational spend.
KlangFool
Posts: 32755
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

Quicken for expense.

Excel for investment.

KlangFool
30% VWENX | 16% VFWAX/VTIAX | 14.5% VTSAX | 19.5% VBTLX | 10% VSIAX/VTMSX/VSMAX | 10% VSIGX| 30% Wellington 50% 3-funds 20% Mini-Larry
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slow n steady
Posts: 407
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:54 pm

Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by slow n steady »

YNAB for budgeting. Google sheets for net worth monthly.
hoofaman
Posts: 1070
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:39 pm

Re: How do you keep track of your personal finances?

Post by hoofaman »

We've never really needed to budget and track cash flow, however I do like to make sure our spending is always as optimized as possible

For us, we spend everything using a rewards card, so I just review those statements each month. I also have an alert set up so that every transaction on the credit card generates a notification, this has been helpful for us to spot duplicate/invalid charges or raise awareness of forgotten subscriptions. Would usually catch those things in a review of the statement, but the alert is a nice additional notification. I feel like for some people subscriptions, especially those with an annual renew cycle can be issue as they can "hide" for 12 months until you get hit with a renewal

The only document I maintain is a net worth document with all of our investments, it's a google sheet, I have to manually update the share counts and dividends every few months but otherwise it's sort of automatic as it pulls price levels in using google finance
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