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Thread: Tracking my spending

  1. #1
    Senior Member The Storyteller's Avatar
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    Tracking my spending

    I'm retiring soon and so I want to get a tighter hold on my spending habits. I'm already budgeting, but want to do more so figure it's time to start to track my spending again, a la YMOYL.

    I'm curious how and if anyone even does that any more. If so, what are your mechanics? I remember years ago on here or the old site, people were starting to transition to using their credit cards for it and just tracking it based on their statements. I'd like to keep it a bit tighter than that so I can view what it was actually spent on as opposed to just an amount at a certain place.

    So, do you track your spending? If so, what are your mechanics and thinking behind your strategy?

    Thanks much, and have a great day.
    "There are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere." --Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Storyteller View Post
    I'm retiring soon and so I want to get a tighter hold on my spending habits. I'm already budgeting, but want to do more so figure it's time to start to track my spending again, a la YMOYL.

    I'm curious how and if anyone even does that any more. If so, what are your mechanics? I remember years ago on here or the old site, people were starting to transition to using their credit cards for it and just tracking it based on their statements. I'd like to keep it a bit tighter than that so I can view what it was actually spent on as opposed to just an amount at a certain place.

    So, do you track your spending? If so, what are your mechanics and thinking behind your strategy?

    Thanks much, and have a great day.
    I know a lot of people here use computer budgets like YNAB. As a paper person, I try to keep it written down in a little book, and I have tried using a checkbook register and writing down everything I spend there.
    My problem comes in doing something with what I have spent--that ,I think, is why the computer spending records are so popular.

    So I have not been as successful as I would like, and would appreciate hearing what others are doing, too.

  3. #3
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Yep, track monthly spending for the same reason: wanting to understand true expenses for retirement planning. I use a paper and pen, and then total things up by category each month and put into an excel spreadsheet. I likely could load some apps but this is easy enough.

    When I come home from shopping, I throw the receipt on my desk and throw it away once it is logged. When I do on line shopping, I just write it down then. The only thing I have to remember is when I use cash, but that's pretty rare anyways.

    As far as categories, I have a bunch relating to the house (taxed, maintenance, household consumables, oil, utilities...), some for the cars (gas, maintenance, tolls, repairs), some for food (food consumed at home, food out, food with friends), and personal spending. I will likely have fewer categories next year, but it was good to be granular and look at if I am getting the value out of my purchases.

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    Herbgeek, that is exactly what I need to be doing. Did you make the Excel spreadsheet yourself?

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    I use a notebook and have gotten laxer over the years in my categories. For instance, I just record groceries as one line item rather than splitting out food from things like soap and toilet paper. I also have a column for left to spend this month and stay on budget.

  6. #6
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Did you make the Excel spreadsheet yourself?
    Yes, I have the months across the top and categories down the left side. I have totals for each category for the year, as well as total spent each month. Its low tech, but it works for me. It also makes me more mindful about impulse splurges knowing I'll have to account to myself at the end of the month.

  7. #7
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Hey OP, good for you! I retired from the city library system here 2.5 years ago.

    Please tell me you arent going to be one of those people who retire on a Friday and come into the library the following Monday to volunteer for whatever. Those people always made me go "hunh?"

    i visit the branch library near my house about once a week to check out materials and read magazines. Just recently I was strong armed into a silly project to organize a small collection there, one that is fairly useless, but I pasted a smile on my face and said (after my time was volunteered by someone else) "why sure, I will do that Work!" Once a librarian always a librarian, I guess, at least as others see you.

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    We've tracked since 2000. I have an excel spreadsheet setup by our major categories. I continue to do this even though we are debt-free and retirement funded. I still want to know where our money goes. It keeps us mindful of spending and focused on being sure our expenditures have value to us.

    It's really cool to look back at us over time. I'll email you my template if you want it. lbq4u@yahoo.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    Cheap notebook and pencil. Just copy each month main headings like food, personal care, health care etc
    also write balances of every account every month. Have a small stack of notebooks since 1978 when gas rose to 65 cents a gallon and I made a little over 12,000 as a registered nurse. I could make dinner for two for under a dollar. We have some incomplete two years before that but then I got serious.

    Fewer categories these days. Fun to look at how spending changed but more importantly the power of compounding savings.

  10. #10
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    I make a spreadsheet every January with known fixed and variable expenses with a column for each monthly total. I keep receipts to tabulate and add to the spreadsheet at the end of the month. For example, tabulate all grocery receipts and then final amount total is entered. I have separated out a few misc categories (coffee, pets, alcohol, etc) just so I have an idea on those types of variable expenses. I don't generally track misc small expenses as I don't spend much that way. The very last column is what I use for averaging categories at the end of the year thus I know that I spend an average monthly of $400 on groceries, $140 on utilities, $55 on pets, $25 on coffee, etc. It allows me to see fairly precisely what our monthly expenses are and plan for the next year. I have been doing this for at least 15 years and find it very helpful for understanding our spending in retirement and where to cut back if needed. I enjoy the process so I don't see it as a chore.

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