I am especially interested in hearing from people outside the US, more so if they have assets in the US that they manage as well.
My bank allows me to export statements in CSV or Quicken(?) format, but it is often easier just to key them in manually.
I treat credit card spending as a "Black Box" only recording the monthly payments out. Should probably break that down further so I can see where we're wasting money.
I try to align Direct Debits (regular monthly payments in the UK) so they come out on the same day / week. Some companies are more helpful than others at moving them.
No cheques - thankfully their use is in the way out in the UK. Similarly, I try not to use cash - far harder to track spending.
I leave investing to professionals. There's no way I can compete on the stock market with people who do it full time and have billions to play with. So I let my pension fund do that work for me.
Hardest thing to track is ad hoc payments through PayPal - either to people or as payment from friends & companies.
Sadly, my bank doesn't offer mobile banking, but I'm happy enough with Web access. I don't need spending alerts, to make sudden payments etc.
The most important thing - if you're married/living together/in a relationship - talk to your partner! Explain your priorities, talk about realistic goals, work out how you'll split bills etc. Money breaks up too many relationships.
For obvious reasons I tend to charge everything to my credit cards and then just pay them off before the due date.
I have an account and a debit card that's only for ATM usage. The account behind that card has a nil balance unless I'm about to get cash, in which case I just use a banking app to do a quick transfer. It takes about a minute or so from app launch to available funds. I have this separate account in case the card gets skimmed.
In essence, with this separate ATM account and my credit cards, I'm keeping my cash in cold storage until it's go-time.
Other than this, I don't really do anything magical or fancy. I used to diligently keep track of every expense but it didn't really add anything to my life so I stopped doing it. I'm not a fan of wasting time.
As a contingency against losing my wallet (which has happened exactly once!) I have a second set of bank accounts and credit cards. These backup cards stay at home. If my wallet disappears and departs from my life I don't have any downtime; I just switch over the backup while replacements are on their way.
I keep my wallet as empty as possible and only carry the bare minimum I need for my day to day. Most of the time I don't even get my wallet out and just use my phone to pay for things. Most places where I go have PayPass enabled terminals.
I'm curious to see the financial status of everyone writing in this thread now though. As a person just entering the work force, I don't have much in the way of wealth so I know I'm not a good example here.
A lot of people increase their spendings proportionally to their income so when they get more money, they acquire more expensive tastes, go to more expensive restaurants, buy more expensive cars and so on.
It's an easy trap to fall into especially with peer pressure but if you can avoid it, then it becomes easy to spend less than what you earn without tracking every penny (or at least it's easy for most people here who tend to earn more than the median salary).
In term of investments, I tend to prefer long term investments rather than short terms one. I've bought some apple shares which I don't touch and I have invested in some index funds.
I do have an accountant to keep my company's book.
I do not expect to be able to get pension from my country by the time I retire so I save and make sure that I'll have enough to live by that time. To that end, I live well below my means and try to save 60% of my income each months.
This does mean that I have a relatively small apartment, that I do not splurge on restaurants and that I tend to not want to buy stuff (this is connected to the fact that I like not having much clutter in my life). I strongly believe that it's easier to continue having the same lifestyle as you did when you started working than returning to a cheaper lifestyle after having had a taste of luxury. So I avoid luxury for now.
In term of spreadsheets, I maintain two spreadsheets.
1. Recurring income and expenses. This allows me to track recurring expenses and decide or not to cut them. I make sure to review it every 2 months
2. Investment spreadsheets, this is a spreadsheet I use to track the different investments I do and the monthly return I get on them. I only review them once a month because I do not want to make impulsive decisions regarding my investments. I've found that it's too easy to panic and make bad decisions and it's also healthier not to worry constantly about one's investment. I probably leave money on the table because of this but it's the choice for me (and then again I have less risk of losing everything).
In term of credit card spending, I set a limit as to what I spend every month and will only really analyze my spendings if I near that limit.
EDIT: Quick hint for people who need to deal with multiple currencies, it's worth looking at a specialized service like Currencies Direct (but there are many others), they tend to give much better rates than banks. I've saved over $1000 this year by doing this.
My personal method is to have a standard of living high enough that I don't have to really think about it much. A small amount of discomfort, but not much. I'm a naturally frugal person so it's not so bad.
I have a single credit card, a single debit card, and various Vanguard accounts (IRA, Roth IRA, Brokerage). I keep a few months of cash liquid in the bank account, whenever it gets a couple thousand over that I transfer it to my Vanguard accounts.
Vanguard is very easy to manage. About an 80/20 mix between US and international, and an 80/20 mix between stock index and bond index for both US and international. So only 4 index symbols to deal with and rebalance every 6 months or so. Increase the size of your bond holdings as you get older.
I log into my bank's website to pay my balance every month, and to view my transactions for that month to make sure there's no fraud/stolen card. I look at my net worth in Mint every few months just out of curiosity. I used to use Mint for tracking budgets for stuff like food, but I found that my happiness went down drastically if I tried to artificially limit my spending because I feel like I'm already really frugal.
This is enough for 95%+ of people assuming they're saving enough and making enough to save enough.
I'm based in Europe but have most of my investments in the US largely due to my phenomenal broker there: https://www.interactivebrokers.com/
Interactive Brokers allows you to exchange currency basically without fees and at real market rates.
In terms of investments I keep it simple and split the money in fixed percentages between cash, bonds, index ETFs, and gold. This saves a lot of time and fees.
Once you're up to speed on that and want to get really fancy you should check out https://www.youneedabudget.com.
Good luck on your journey.
Thanks for sharing a bit.
I'd rather go from earning 60k to 120k than try to not spend 60k
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Data entry is primarily via emacs, although for my business ledger I have a script that pulls transfers from my Stripe account.
Do you have any plans to support automated transactions? I use them quite extensively.
I pay an accountant / financial advisor to help me with taxes on payments from multiple freelance clients and she's also recently advised me what savings accounts to use:
1. 3 month emergency tax fund
2. Unit trust with 50-50 shares / bonds composition
4. Cash saving for property
I really can't wait for digital currencies to penetrate further into mainstream.
Thanks for asking, hopefully I'll spot some good tips here.
Most airports have those multi-currency donation bins.
Full disclosure, I do not own stock in CaptialOne or are affiliated with them in any way. I am just really happy with their banking services.
Edit: Except Argentina, as I was there when the official dollar-peso exchange rate was held artificially (and laughably) low. But now the law has changed, so your millage may vary.
Unfortunately, Microsoft retired this product about five years ago but still makes it available as Money Plus Sunset Deluxe edition, available as a free download.
I've never found a application / app / web site which works so well for me.
The idea of mapping the balances in my accounts (cash, bank account and credit) to a set of buckets ("digital envelopes") really resonates with me. Every paycheque gets assigned to the Salary bucket, and I have a set of fill rules defined to move money from income buckets to expense buckets such as the mortgage, consumables (my version of groceries), kids savings, etc. No money actually moves when the fill rules execute: it's just bucketing. I'm free to "move" the money around manually too.
I don't care about the physical mechanism to spend money anymore: cash, credit and debit all have to be assigned to a bucket in the end. (Though I do prefer the credit card for the rewards, and have it automatically paid off in full each month.)
Some buckets go negative: when we redid our floors, I "paid" out of the projects bucket, and then "repaid" that amount to myself over the next few months. I didn't borrow any money externally, and kept the overall bank balance well above zero by maintaining a "minimum balance bucket", along with the regular funds in all the other buckets.
My wife and I have "personal" buckets - money to spend, or more crucially, to save over a few fill cycles. It's very freeing for both of us.
I haven't been terribly successful at getting non-technical folk to use it, because it really requires you to buy into the "bucket" (e.g. digital envelope) system. It also changed ownership a few years back, and development has slowed, though not stalled.
The desktop application has served me well for 2 years now and I can see that going forward.
A good thing about it is it supports importing transactions from Quicken format, which my bank offers, so keeping up to date is a fairly quick process.
I live in the UK, have to pay my US student loans, which is a bitch.
I used to have a US bank account registered to my parent's address over which my mother had Power of Attorney. I'd transfer a decent sum of money using a forex 2-3 times a year and pay the student loans monthly out of that
However, the bank account kept going dormant because of there being no personal type contact. So I ended up closing that account out of fear I'd lose access to it.
That left me with two ways to pay my student loans, forex and paypal (looking at you Discover, only allowing paypal is terrible).
So I paid off the loan that required me to use paypal by socking all the saved money I had at it, and now use a low-fee, good exchange rate forex to pay the other loan monthly.
Everything is handled completely online, and I only keep one set of UK bank accounts.
Personal savings into a stocks and shares ISA happens automatically every month, plus a work pension that I manage online.
I'm a big supporter of manual entry for the extra clarity on what I've been (and will) spending on, I know many people find it cumbersome.
I "manage" Fidelity account in the exact opposite manner - almost 100% automatically - paying all the bills and such. Fidelity knows of the biller and can pay the exact amount each month for many of my bills. The others, such as my electric bill are mostly on payment plans that make it the same each month and re-adjust once or twice a year, so Fidelity just sends a check to an address with the account number in the memmo. It also automatically sends money to the credit union, retirement accounts, etc.
Oh, and we have a separate account for giving, both to causes that we support and people in need. Some of its automated, some of it changes each month.
That might change once things start getting more complicated, (Kids!) but for now, it's very easy to keep track of everything.
It's a free cross-platform GUI like Quicken (I guess). Developers make money by selling addons.
I do this because I do not expect to be able to depend on anything outside of myself for my later days.
I don't use any outside advisors but I do have someone keeping the books and occasionally they will inform me of some detail that might be worth pursuing. (One of these for instance is that in NL income from rental property is nearly tax free if you own the property privately.)
It does a few nice things like automatically determining your recurring income and expense patterns, which allows it to do a bit of forecasting. I'm working on expanding that capability at the moment to summarise savings progress for recurring expenses with multi-month periods. Contributions welcome!
I don't see the need for management, I know in my head how much I have. I tried to set up spreadsheets, apps or other fancy things to keep track of my spendings, but I abandoned all of them in a few days due to lack of motivation.
I wish I had your problem :)
I might check the total every now and then out of interest. I also don't have any investments or a lot of recurring things.
As far as spending goes, I buy just about everything with my Citi Double Cash credit card which pays 2% cash back on all purchases. I have an automatic transfer that pays the balance in full every month, so I never have to worry about late fees or interest payments. Any other bills, deposits, etc that can't be put on the card are set up as automatic deposits/withdrawals, so managing everything takes essentially zero effort. Almost all of this stuff happens via my CapitalOne 360 (formerly ING Direct) high interest savings account. They give me instant transfers between that and my 360 checking account as well as have a feature where overdraft on the checking account gets handled with no fees from the savings account. This means that I am able to keep the vast majority of my cash on hand in a savings account, so I maximize the returns of that money too.
Since my spending habits are now naturally restrained and I'm not concerned about tracking where my money goes what I do now is my own simplified take on a cash flow report. Every month I record in a spreadsheet the balances of all my cash accounts (two checking and one savings account). I also record the sum total of any deposits I make to investment accounts. I don't record the actual value of the investment account because then there would be lots of fluctuation due to the market. All this takes me like 5-10 minutes every month. From these four numbers I can derive a very accurate picture of exactly how much money I am saving every month, and when I subtract this from my actual after-tax paycheck amounts, I know exactly how much I'm spending.
The information I get from this report tells me the only number that really matters for early retirement: your savings rate, as a percentage of your take-home pay. From this you can get a really good idea of how long it will be before you can retire (https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement).
I save all my extra money ( most of my expenses are in the weekend), have some recurring income ( in the form of hosting + some subscriptions on ledenboek.be ) and now starting a ecommerce for additional funds in a niche market
I don't have a credit card. To be fair, nobody here has a credit card. I just spend less than I get, and I try to save something every month. I put my savings on a saving account.
Most people say it the other way: "spend less than you earn."
But one gives an emphasis on earning more income (more income === more money to save), the other simply limits how much you can spend.
I found that by focusing on earning more, I had to worry less and less about spending less.
A tip I once read that made sense to me:
- Every raise you get (of predictable income), save 50% of it (so if I get a $10k/yr pay increase, I should increase savings by $5k/yr).
- Every bonus you get (unpredictable income), save 90% of it
My savings and lifestyle would increase together as I begin to earn more, and all it takes is the discipline to follow those two rules.
- The advice for college financing in colorado is great assuming laws don't change in the next 15 years. You can move money between one account and a college account for a few days before cashing it out.
- The rest of our money is scattered between a number of funds I've never heard of.
I still think the best advice I've ignored is from my brother's FIL: put your money in a vanguard fund and forget about it;