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How do YOU keep track of income/expenses, etc?

December 17th, 2009 at 04:22 am

Out of curiosity, how do you keep track of your budget items? Do you use a computer program like You Need A Budget or do you use a ledger or something else?

Since we're Dave fans, we do the sheets at the end of the month for the next month but that helps us figure out what's due and not the other intricacies of our finances, which is where we need more help.

I really need to find a system that works for us so I figured I'd pick the brains of you moolah mavens. Whatever method you use, please share the pros and cons of that method. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

8 Responses to “How do YOU keep track of income/expenses, etc?”

  1. historychick Says:

    Right now I'm using Money Manager Ex, its a free download that allows you to see (and move around) all your stuff at one time including: checking/savings accounts, non cash assets, stocks, repeating tranactions, budgets etc.

    What I don't love is that it doesn't have a good way to handle loans so I have to track my student loan on my own (but according to the website, the developers are working on this feature). If I had a ton of loans to keep track of, I'm not sure it would work for me.

    The other thing I use is a composition notebook I keep in my stupidly-large-purse. I don't like (haven't learned) the "Budgeting" function in Money Manager Ex so I just write out my monthly budget in the notebook for now.

    Cliffsnotes
    PROS:
    -free download
    -allows multiple types of accounts and transfers
    -available for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu
    -forum where you can ask for help/updates/new features
    -multiple currencies

    Cons:
    -no set loan feature (there's a workaround, but way too complicated for me)
    -the built in help guide isn't terribly helpful

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    I use Splashmoney for the iPhone (although I have the iPod Touch). That way, my financial records are literally everywhere with me, wherever I go.

    But I can also understand that this isn't a suitable option for everyone.

    Yeah, I think there are a lot of YNAB fans on here (and I myself am quite curious as to the progress of his iPhone app).

    If all else fails, there's always Excel....

  3. Caoineag Says:

    I love excel. Since I like to play with numbers its extremely handy for cashflow and projection.

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    I like being hands-on and entering everything myself, so I'm an Excel nerd. Smile I keep spreadsheets in Google Documents, so I can log in and access them from anywhere.

    I keep one spreadsheet of my fixed expenses as well as listing the "buckets" for my variable expenses such as groceries. I keep another one where the action happens: At the top I have my checking account balance, then below I have listed all the things I think are going to come in and go out for the next three months. I try to keep the bottom line at $20; at first I tried to keep it at $0, but that was a little stressful, so the $20 balance I aim for is just for my own comfort. In actuality I usually have a few thousand bucks in the bank, but it's all allocated, either to fixed upcoming expenses or it's part of a bucket such as health expenses or groceries.

    I access my checking account daily, sometimes several times a day, during the week, and usually don't during the weekend.

    When an income or expense happens, I delete it from my spreadsheet. Not as interested in the past as long as the numbers match up; my goal is to always make sure we're good for the next three months. If a paycheck is going to be unexpectedly lower, I can pick through the spreadsheet and cut expenses where needed. If one of our "wants" is surpassed by another, we can work to reallocate bucket money to what we really want.

    Basically, my spreadsheet looks like this:
    ACCOUNT BALANCE $1000.00
    Pending authorizations: 12/17/09 Target -$10.00
    AVAILABLE BALANCE $990.00
    Groceries/household [bucket] (55.67) $934.33
    12/18/2009 Spending money (180.00) $754.33
    12/28/2009 Student loan (61.88) $692.45
    12/31/2009 CJ paycheck $1,261.59 $1,954.04

    etc. As you can see, I have a calculation that shows what the checking account balance would be should every income and expense come through on the date indicated.

    Oh, and I have other spreadsheets where I keep track of debt, net worth, savings, etc. Like I said, big Excel dork. But the hands-on approach is good for me because I tended to be disorganized and irresponsible with money, so now I always have it fresh in my mind what we've got and what's going on.

  5. monkeymama Says:

    I use Quicken and Excel.

    Once you get Quicken setup, it is very user friendly. You download the data and can generate reports every which way. I often get comments in my blog that I must spend a LOT of time tracking data, etc. The truth is just minutes a month!

    Others would say a con is the cost. I don't agree. Pays for itself easily. (You just get so organized and cathc more things that would fall through the cracks otherwise).

    The big con is that I think I probably would not settle for anything less since I am an accountant. I find my friends and people around here have a lot harder time setting it up. So, if you have any accounting experience, it is awesome. If not, will take some patience to learn - or may not be very useful.

    Quicken is clunky for tracking net worth, so I do that in excel too. Though the numbers come easily from Quicken. This is probably the most important thing I do, to get a long term big picture.

    I find Quicken good for the nitty gritty, day to day tracking, and excel good for big picture things.

    OF course, I use Quicken to track all my income and expenses on a daily basis. So it is all in electronic form and I can look up anything with ease. & run reports, etc., with a click of a button.

    I use excel to track my savings "buckets." I put in $1k/month to pay non-monthly bills, and pull the money out when needed. I input the savings and expenses in excel, to make sure I am on track, and not over-spending my cash. I also have another tab in excel to track all my additions to longer-term savings. I then reconcile the totals, monthly, to my bank accounts. Make sure I didn't forget anything, etc. (This is mostly needed because I Tend to lump all my cash in the highest yielding vehicles. I don't use sub accounts. But this is probably easier for me as an accountant, too. I understand if someone rather just have separate bank accounts!).

    I don't really budget, per se. If I need to come up with a budget, I do it in excel.

  6. frugaltexan Says:

    I'm a Ynab'er all the way. Really the only con to it is not having the info easily accessible on the go - but as BA said, there is an iPhone app in the works, so that'll take care of that. Smile
    I'm not really into reporting functions, I just like to see the numbers. I tried quicken and Microsoft money and even making my own budget in excel. None of them were able to do what I wanted (rolling over budget amounts from month to month). Mevelopes could do it, but I hated paying a monthly fee. (YNAB 3 has much improved reporting function. I might even get into it - just to play with the software a bit). Smile

  7. Patchwork Pennies Says:

    I used Quicken for years and years, starting about 1994, and it was great for me. Once I got in the habit of keeping things updated, I was pretty disciplined, and I credit Quicken with that. I also used Pocket Quicken for many years, when I had a Palm PDA, and that was great because I could keep track of all of my balances. But then, a couple of years ago, I started slacking off, and then Quicken became unmanageable due to it being bloatware and forcing the user to do updates. I stopped using Quicken, and now I'm using MoneyDance, but there are a lot of deficiencies with that program. One of the things I want to do now is to resume tracking my expenses, since there's no way I can get out of debt without doing that first.

  8. DeniseNTexas Says:

    Thanks for all the input, yall! And yeah, some of y'all really are nerds. Wink Just kidding! It's all good and we do what works for us, huh? I really appreciate the input and will put it to work in making a decision.

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