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How Do You Keep Track of Your Finances?

Written by Nickel - 27 Comments

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How Do You Keep Track of Your Finances?I’ve shared a lot about how we keep track of our finances, so today I want to turn the tables and ask you guys to share your methods. As you’re likely aware, I’m a bit of a Quicken junkie, having tracked our spending, investments, etc. in one version or another since January 1, 1997.

(Yeah, I know. I’m a bit obsessive about these things.)

Anyway… To facilitate the discussion, I’ve created the following poll. What I’m looking for here is your primary method of tracking your finances. There are lots of options out there, and I’ve done my best to capture the big ones. Of course, many of us probably use a combination, so please just choose the one that fits the best.

As always, please also feel free to chime in with a comment to add some context to or otherwise clarify your answer.


Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or the RSS feed, you might have to click through to participate and/or see the results. Ready? Go!

Published on April 23rd, 2010 - 27 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany,Polls

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I use Yodlee, and sometime mint but Yodlee has more features and a better interface for me.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 8:55 am
  2. I use a simple excel sheet to track and many sub accounts in ING to pay bills and destroy debt.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 9:00 am
  3. I use a piece of paper to track my budget each month. I can typically write out my expenses for the next month or 2 from memory. Once I move from the debt side to the investment side of financial management I’ll probably need to get a bit more organized. Every month or two I do a quick figure of my change in net worth to make sure I’m progressing at a satisfactory rate.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 9:27 am
  4. Mint for me, although I probably don’t login as much as I should. That’ll probably improve now that they’ve added manual transactions.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 9:46 am
  5. I’m an excel junkie! My husband even switched from a software (I think quicken) to excel when I showed him all the things you can do in excel if you just know how to use it ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ve got some awesome spreadsheets! In fact, I sent the mortgage spread to my brother – who said it was “way better than any of those financial calculators on the web!” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 9:52 am
  6. I use a ledger for the checking account — spreadsheets for everything else (printed and filed once a month).

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 10:26 am
  7. both quicken and excel ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 10:43 am
  8. Back in the old days, I used to use Pha$sar on the Atari ST. After converting to a PC in the mid-90’s I switched to Quicken. These days I still use Quicken, but run under GNU/Linux using CrossoverOffice. My investment records go back as far as 1977. It’s great for looking at investment performance (IRR) throughout different time periods and for different accounts/securities.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 11:07 am
  9. We put together a simple spreadsheet about twice a year with our budget but then use the envelope system to implement it. Automatic savings go out at the beginning of the month and the rest of the month is on a cash basis. If there is money left over in the envelopes, that goes into a savings account as well.

    It is so simple because it takes all the tracking out of the equation. the tracking is built into the envelope amount determined at the biannual review of our budget. Easy peasy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 11:16 am
  10. Mvelopes is my online tool of choice. Like mint and yodlee it pulls in all of your transactions, but it uses the envelope method of sorting transactions and budgeting. It is great to see exactly how much you have left at the end of the month, and not have to guess how much you can pay towards debt.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 11:18 am
  11. I’ve never heard of Yodlee or Mint before, been checking out their websites. You guys are brave to trust some random company with all of your financial information _online_ — wow.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 11:48 am
  12. I keep track in my head for the most part, but I try to use a spreadsheet to keep track of long term goals and pen and paper to quickly figure out a rough budget every 2 weeks.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 11:57 am
  13. BG: Mint is owned by Intuit (maker of Quicken and TurboTax) so they’re not really a random company. But yeah, there’s risk associated with having all that info centralized.

    Comment by Nickel — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 12:30 pm
  14. When it comes to the monthly budget, my husband is amazing with excel and can create spreadsheets better suited for us than any software we’ve tried. He just doesn’t have the patience to enter the data day after day, month after month, year after year. I, on the other hand, am excel challenged, but like to keep track of every cent. It works out well, I input & keep tabs on the data and he comes up with great ways to analyze it.

    However, for the big picture, we like to use Mint. It’s an easy way to keep track of all of our assets, including retirement accounts, employee stock purchase program and our son’s 529 account. It’s nice to be able to get our net worth just by signing in.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 2:40 pm
  15. I use a simple excel spreadsheet as well. It is just so much easier and all I have to do is spend about 5 minutes a month reviewing it.

    I know I don’t really need to look at it much unless a big change takes place like buying a house or moving around some debt.



    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 2:45 pm
  16. I generally just use a spreadsheet. I’ve been curious about using a tool like Mint. But I’m still a little paranoid about security and my wife is even more paranoid. And when I say “paranoid” I mean that literally. I don’t really think Mint has security risks any worse than any of my banks or someone stealing my laptop or hacking my email.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 3:43 pm
  17. Spreadsheet all the way. I did try Mint for awhile; not to replace the spreadsheet, but to give me one place to go for balance updates. Unfortunately, it had so many problems with updating my ING accounts, and then my Capital One account that I just gave up on it. Finally deleted the account last month.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 6:56 pm
  18. Excel on Google Docs.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 7:26 pm
  19. Pen, paper and calculator all the way! I don’t find it burdensome – my personality lends itself readily to lists and such, and I actually enjoy keeping our books. And our financial life is not particularly complicated. I love excel at work, but I don’t really feel like I have a need for it in my personal book keeping.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 8:53 pm
  20. I use a checkbook register to keep track of my checking, savings, and credit cards (yes, I am creative with that ledger). I also use paper to keep track of problem spending categories.

    However, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of long-term stuff like my budget, how much savings I have in different categories, my investments, and my net worth. I like that I can make spreadsheets do exactly what I want, and I can even change my mind about what I want. (Heck, I even personalized my checkbook register!)

    I also still do my taxes by hand but I now double-check them and mail them in using computer software.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2010 @ 10:33 pm
  21. Pen and paper for me. The budget is made up and categories lined up in November when we know if there’s any change in my husband’s salary. It’s pretty straightforward. The physical act of writing it down and seeing goals being reached is very soothing.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 24th 2010 @ 6:15 pm
  22. I use Gnucash (computer program)! It’s like an automated version of a ledger for me, and it does everything I want really easily.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 24th 2010 @ 7:16 pm
  23. I use a spreadsheet (Excel) that I created. I have broken my spending into 10 categories and by month so I can track of how much I’m spending on certain categories per month and see the trend. I also have income inputs so I can find out whether I’m spending too much or saving enough for my future too. I’ve been doing it since beginning of this year and gave me a better view of my personal finance. I recommend everyone to setup because it fits your style and spending.


    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 25th 2010 @ 11:52 am
  24. YNAB – online budget tool (You Need a Budget); has been an excellent way for us to actually create and follow a budget.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 26th 2010 @ 12:23 am
  25. I use a combination of Mint and the family budget spreadsheet in Google Docs.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 26th 2010 @ 11:33 am
  26. Pen, paper, checkbook register. I really don’t track every penny because all monthly expenses are automatically deducted from one checkbook and several sub accounts at Ing keep track of non-monthly expenses. Other checkbook has additional savings deducted automatically and the rest is spending allowance. IRA accounts are not touched and are intended for my grandchildren.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 30th 2010 @ 4:33 pm
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