Tracking Your Spending / Financial Software and Tools

Tracking Your Spending / Financial Software and Tools
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#1

Relating back to @acoombes question in the Financial Goals thread, I thought it might be interesting to break out into a separate conversation about how we manage our money, track our spending, etc.

In our house, my husband & I each have a separate credit card, then we also have a joint card for gas and groceries and shared bank accounts. He also has a separate bank account where he stashes money for long-term savings.

Our tools:

  • A budget that we more or less developed together about 5 years ago and adjust as our financial situation changes. We budget to a pretty granular level.
  • A savings account to which we automatically transfer a set amount of money monthly, so no one has to remember, and those funds are there when we need them (this account is mostly for designated savings: new car, repairs, vacation, etc).
  • A spreadsheet where I track my personal monthly spending and our groceries so I have an idea of what to expect when we get the bill for the grocery card. I update this most days.
  • Quicken, where I download the statements for nearly all of our accounts (maybe time to connect them all?) and I categorize our transactions. I update this every other week, typically. Otherwise, I get way behind and become an ostrich.
  • The NerdWallet app for keeping a casual eye on our balances between the formal update listed above. I’ve found this so handy for knowing that our spending isn’t (or is!) going way off the rails.

I’d love to hear how others do it!


#2

Love hearing your strategies, Emily! Thanks for sharing. This is inspiring. I’m looking forward to hear how others do this, too.


#3

I’m a huge believer in “no questions asked” money. My husband and I each get cash every month to spend any way we want. His is transferred to a separate bank account each month and I just use ATM withdrawals for mine.

I also have about a dozen “savings buckets” at an online bank. Each is labeled with its purpose (property taxes, vacations, Christmas, life insurance, home repairs, etc.) and funded with automatic transfers from our checking account. My goal is “no scrambling, no surprises.” I like having the money ready and waiting when we need it.

We have a boatload of credit cards, because rewards. I finally used my label maker to remind us which card to use when. (I can’t wait for our app to do that!) Our CSP cards have a “travel/dining” label on the back, for example. I occasionally demand Hubby surrender a card so I can give him another one (bonus spend!). I have alerts set up so I get the daily balances on our most-used cards, plus warnings when we’re using more than 10 percent of our available credit. I can then make an extra payment so our credit scores don’t get dinged.

I feel like I should add a “Professional driver, do not attempt” warning, because this is definitely not for everybody. (Your system makes a ton of sense, @emily!). On the other hand, we just spend two free nights at the Gritti Palace in Venice, when the rack rate was 1500 euros and 2200 euros, respectively. So there’s that.

Everything gets tracked on Mint and business expenses get tracked on QuickBooks Self-Employed (which is much less awful than regular QB, which I wished I’d known years ago). A couple times a year, I do a spending autopsy to see if our money is going where we want it and if there are expenses we should cut. And there always are.