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10-21-17 08:49:59 AM

Jul - General Chat - Budgeting and expense tracking New poll - New thread - New reply
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Sanqui
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Posted on 07-24-17 08:07:44 AM Link | Quote
Do you track your expenses somehow?

I've been interested in it even though my turnover is small at the moment. First I used GnuCash for Android, but it was a bit confusing and glitchy, so I gave it up after about two months. Now earlier this month a friend told me about Expense Manager for Android, so I've started using that. It's a bit better but still not perfect.

Overall I seem to get hang up on weird issues when entering expenses. Such as when others pay for me or I pay for them. I'd like to enter all of it. Also, it feels weird for an expense that's like a membership lasting 6 months to only count for the first month...

What works for you?
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Posted on 07-24-17 05:44:35 PM Link | Quote
I just track everything in my head personally. If I wanted to make a proper budget though I'd just make it in an excel spreadsheet.
Xkeeper






Posted on 07-24-17 06:34:52 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Sanqui
Do you track your expenses somehow?

I've been interested in it even though my turnover is small at the moment. First I used GnuCash for Android, but it was a bit confusing and glitchy, so I gave it up after about two months. Now earlier this month a friend told me about Expense Manager for Android, so I've started using that. It's a bit better but still not perfect.

Overall I seem to get hang up on weird issues when entering expenses. Such as when others pay for me or I pay for them. I'd like to enter all of it. Also, it feels weird for an expense that's like a membership lasting 6 months to only count for the first month...

What works for you?

I heard you ask about this in IRC. I will talk more about it I guess!
These images are (should be) clickable for full size, but of course imgur.

YNAB's philosophy is about giving every $CURRENCY a job.



This is the most recent 3 months. The left column for each month is the budgeted amount from that month's income. The second column is expenses in that category; the third is the total balance.

The most important thing to take from this is that budgeted amounts roll over; if you budget ¤100 to the electricity bill, but your electricity bill is only ¤80, then your balance is ¤20 -- it carries over to the next month. This is important, because if you budget ¤100 every month... If your power bill suddenly spikes to ¤120 the next month, you've budgeted for that sort of thing in advance.

This works towards one of your questions, too:

Also, it feels weird for an expense that's like a membership lasting 6 months to only count for the first month..

In this case, let's say that the first six months are ¤120. You budget that amount in for the first month, because you need to spend that much the first month.

But for every month after that, you can budget ¤20. You aren't spending anything those months, so the balance grows.

January: ¤120 (budgeted) - ¤120 (spent) = ¤0
February: ¤0 (balance) + ¤20 (budgeted) = ¤20
March: ¤20 + ¤20 = ¤40
April: ¤40 + ¤20 = ¤60
May: ¤60 + ¤20 = ¤80
June: ¤80 + ¤20 = ¤100
July: ¤100 + ¤20 = ¤120 ... and you're ready to spend the ¤120 cost again.

(You can do this without the first "lump" month if you know the expense in advance, like buying a new PC or whatever; just contribute what you can every month, and when you have enough budgeted, go buy it.

You can see this in work with the "Car registration" category, where I budgeted $20 per month until it was due. It turns out that I over budgeted quite a bit, so I can relax that category for now.



Such as when others pay for me or I pay for them. I'd like to enter all of it.


This just depends on what you're trying to achieve:

• Do you want your friends to pay you back? Then issue an IOU or use something like Splitwise.
• Do you want to pay your friends back? Then keep track on your own, and enter the expense when you pay it.
• Do you not care? Then just track your expenses. It isn't your job to budget other people's money!



One of the most useful benefits I've found to budgeting is keeping track of where money goes:



The colors in this directly correspond to the major categories in the first image (household expenses, personal bills, general expenses...). It's been really useful at capturing where all of my money goes...
Sanqui
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Posted on 07-25-17 03:02:36 AM (last edited by Sanqui at 07-25-17 03:03:33 AM) Link | Quote
Right now, my main concern is

1. Entering everything in
2. Eventually getting useful information out, such as what whether I'm within my income, how much did a vacation cost total, and where most of my money goes in general, to see if there are places I can easily cut back.

I'm not too concerned about having categories assigned budgets just yet, in fact I need to figure out those categories first. (Not paying rent, although that might change soon.)

Excel sheet won't work. I need entering stuff to be as painless as possible, which means I need to be able to do it from my phone.

Originally posted by X
• Do you want your friends to pay you back? Then issue an IOU or use something like Splitwise.
• Do you want to pay your friends back? Then keep track on your own, and enter the expense when you pay it.

Yeah, we've used Settle Up in the past with some friends, and it works well. But it feels like I should be entering these into my budgeting as well. Sometimes I pay for people without expecting money back, also, of course. Do I split the bill between "eating out" and "paying for somebody else"?
Similarly, when another person pays for me, I feel obliged towards them, and I feel like it's technically money I "would have spent [on eating out]". Maybe I should enter both an expense and an income from the friend. But, really, I'm probably overthinking things.

Either way, I can't justify paying for YNAB just yet. (I'm aware they give 12 months for free to students, but then I'm concerned about being locked in.)

I'll probably continue using Expense Manager for a bit and see what I collect. Eventually I can just export it as CSV and work with it further.
Orlandu


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Posted on 07-25-17 11:27:19 AM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Sanqui
Either way, I can't justify paying for YNAB just yet. (I'm aware they give 12 months for free to students, but then I'm concerned about being locked in.)


Try Mint.com. It's free, offers pretty basic budgeting and expense tracking. You can even connect to your bank account directly. It will automatically add transactions and categorize them based on the vendor, or you can adjust the category manually if need be. Their mobile app is pretty easy to use and intuitive.
Sanqui
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Posted on 07-25-17 11:46:07 AM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Orlandu
Try Mint.com. It's free, offers pretty basic budgeting and expense tracking. You can even connect to your bank account directly. It will automatically add transactions and categorize them based on the vendor, or you can adjust the category manually if need be. Their mobile app is pretty easy to use and intuitive.



...yeah this won't do.
Xkeeper






Posted on 07-25-17 01:45:17 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Sanqui
Right now, my main concern is

1. Entering everything in
2. Eventually getting useful information out, such as what whether I'm within my income, how much did a vacation cost total, and where most of my money goes in general, to see if there are places I can easily cut back.

I'm not too concerned about having categories assigned budgets just yet, in fact I need to figure out those categories first. (Not paying rent, although that might change soon.)

You have to assign categories to know where stuff is going. Even if you don't budget for it yet, breaking them down is good (and you can always just use your monthly expenses for those categories as next month's budget, to start.)


Yeah, we've used Settle Up in the past with some friends, and it works well. But it feels like I should be entering these into my budgeting as well. Sometimes I pay for people without expecting money back, also, of course. Do I split the bill between "eating out" and "paying for somebody else"?

Personally I put it under "eating out", period.


Similarly, when another person pays for me, I feel obliged towards them, and I feel like it's technically money I "would have spent [on eating out]". Maybe I should enter both an expense and an income from the friend. But, really, I'm probably overthinking things.

I think you are over-thinking it. If your friend wasn't paying, perhaps you would not have gone at all; now your budget needs to support imaginary numbers, too


Either way, I can't justify paying for YNAB just yet. (I'm aware they give 12 months for free to students, but then I'm concerned about being locked in.)

I may have a solution...
FieryIce

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Posted on 07-25-17 10:06:36 PM Link | Quote
Way to go making me feel inadequate Xkeeper I don't keep a budget :/ I do look at my expenses at the end of every month and go on "damage control" mode the next month if a particular month got out of hand, though. It's probably the worst system, but it works for me because I am thrifty by nature
Xkeeper






Posted on 07-26-17 02:22:27 PM Link | Quote
Different things work for different people. Budgeting like this helps me keep track of everything. If you don't have much to keep track of (live alone, that sort of thing) then you have less need for it.
Sponty
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Posted on 07-26-17 02:46:35 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by FieryIce
Way to go making me feel inadequate Xkeeper I don't keep a budget :/ I do look at my expenses at the end of every month and go on "damage control" mode the next month if a particular month got out of hand, though. It's probably the worst system, but it works for me because I am thrifty by nature

Oh this is my system! Except I overspend way too often.
Though I just synced up all my accounts to Mint with some budgets and paying off credit card debt goals, I'm kinda hoping that'll help me keep a better handle on it. I have no problems watching my money (I've gotten legitimate anxiety when my online banking was down for maintenance) it's just... not spending it that's the problem.
Xkeeper






Posted on 07-26-17 06:08:47 PM Link | Quote
That's why the idea of YNAB isn't to watch your money, it's to sort your money into piles of what you can spend. I don't look at my account and go "ooh, $20,000, I can buy all sorts of stuff", I look at my fun budget and see $150 and know that's what I can spend.

I tried Mint but I didn't like it at all and it didn't feel like I was really budgeting as much as just watching my money disappear.
Sponty
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Posted on 07-26-17 06:28:10 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Xkeeper
I tried Mint but I didn't like it at all and it didn't feel like I was really budgeting as much as just watching my money disappear.

It's better than nothing, but there's some weird missing features. Their budget page subtracts your budgets from your estimated monthly income, then shows how much you have leftover, but then it fails to take into account any bill payments? Even though they're already recognized as bills on the overview page.

Regardless, it's a step up from the alternative "spend money and hope I can make bills at the end of the month" philosophy I used to have.
Orlandu


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Posted on 07-26-17 07:00:33 PM Link | Quote
We don't actually use Mint, I just know it has some budgeting and expense tracking capabilities and was free compared to YNAB.

My wife and I use a convoluted spreadsheet to track everything and we have our's planned out through January 2019 currently. Everything from school supplies budgeting, paying off credit cards in order from highest to lowest, medical expenses from the upcoming baby, etc. It's complicated but I've budgeted practically my entire adult life so it's second nature to me by now.
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Posted on 08-01-17 12:26:48 PM Link | Quote
OMG YES YNAB

I'm also a YNAB user, but there are other ways to do a zero-based budget (a budget where every dollar you earn is allocated to a task ahead of time, including savings), if you don't want to pay subscription fees. Before I used YNAB, I used a spreadsheet that made sure my income minus expenditure added up to zero. Big problem was tracking and updating things. YNAB is definitely a lot easier to keep up-to-date than a spreadsheet.

For a very simple solution, you could use the envelope method. You just put your allowance for certain things into envelopes labelled with your budget categories. I used to have envelopes for groceries, bills, games, etc. Just chuck an amount of money into the envelopes each pay. Very old-fashioned, but it works. Allows you to save up incrementally for larger expenses, and avoid overspending. Very cheap to implement. Not very good if you want to go cashless.
Xkeeper






Posted on 08-01-17 01:48:30 PM Link | Quote
The envelope method works a lot better if you're cash-only, but in more modern times it's a lot more difficult because you can't really put cards in envelopes
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Posted on 08-01-17 05:31:11 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Xkeeper
The envelope method works a lot better if you're cash-only, but in more modern times it's a lot more difficult because you can't really put cards in envelopes

You totally can! It just doesn't work the same! And so convenient these days thanks to contactless payments!

Yes, it's extremely cash based, which is it's biggest drawback. I also wouldn't be comfortable having envelopes around that have as much money in them as some of my YNAB categories… especially rainy day funds.

On the other hand it's very cheap and simple. No special software or spreadsheets, no subscription fees, no expense tracking (when the envelope is empty you're just shit out of luck). But, unless you prefer to work with cash, I'd probably only recommend it to help put the brakes on overspending before moving on to something more sophisticated.
Xkeeper






Posted on 08-01-17 07:11:50 PM Link | Quote
It's a really great method if you want to start educating younger people how to deal with their money. Teenagers and kids, with allowances.

Especially in the US, where any sort of financial education appears to be completely missing
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Posted on 08-01-17 07:27:55 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Xkeeper
It's a really great method if you want to start educating younger people how to deal with their money. Teenagers and kids, with allowances.

Especially in the US, where any sort of financial education appears to be completely missing

Absolutely! Also good for people who don't trust internet banking/contactless payments/technology. Which… probably isn't anyone here.

And good if you need to be sneaky too, as cash can be hidden from the government, abusive partners, etc, and the envelopes generate no paper trail. Although again I doubt anyone here is in a position to need to protect themselves this way.
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Posted on 08-02-17 10:49:16 AM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Xkeeper
Especially in the US, where any sort of financial education appears to be completely missing


It almost seems intentional, as if credit card companies lobby grade schools to avoid the subject so that they can target them with predatory interest rates in college. I guess it's just one of those things people expect parents to teach their kids about but too many parents don't.
Xkeeper






Posted on 08-02-17 12:39:44 PM Link | Quote
I'd suggest it has something to do with schooling in general, too; maybe not outright financial-sector lobbying, but you see a lot of electives and other things going away, too, with an ever-increasing focus on ~standardized testing~
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Jul - General Chat - Budgeting and expense tracking New poll - New thread - New reply




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