12 votes

how do you manage your personal budget?

Do you use software, pen & paper, or just keep in all in your head?

If you share a household with someone, how do you track / share expenses?

15 comments

  1. Chopincakes
    Link
    Points to head Can't manage your budget if you don't have any money to spend. In all seriousness, though, my wife and I track the constants in a shared excel sheet, but we generally try to spend...

    Points to head Can't manage your budget if you don't have any money to spend.

    In all seriousness, though, my wife and I track the constants in a shared excel sheet, but we generally try to spend as little money as possible on unneeded things.

    7 votes
  2. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. liberty
      Link Parent
      I can also vouch for YNAB - I used it for about a year and a half and had a good experience. Ultimately I stopped using it and just track things with Personal Capital, but YNAB was great for when...

      I can also vouch for YNAB - I used it for about a year and a half and had a good experience. Ultimately I stopped using it and just track things with Personal Capital, but YNAB was great for when I wanted to be more hands on and make change in my habits, rather than just track.

      5 votes
    2. jwilcoxson
      Link Parent
      Also recommending YNAB, if you can get in to the envelope method it’s great. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it for me.

      Also recommending YNAB, if you can get in to the envelope method it’s great. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it for me.

      2 votes
  3. unknown user
    Link
    I just started experimenting with this using my bullet-ish journal. I'll dedicate one page or two per month and just calculate manually. I don't have almost any money ATM (just graduated and...

    I just started experimenting with this using my bullet-ish journal. I'll dedicate one page or two per month and just calculate manually. I don't have almost any money ATM (just graduated and preparing for my masters the upcoming or the other semester), but soon I'll start working and making a note of what is my income and what I spend may help with making some savings.

    So basically I use pen and paper. I like this over using the computer for it because it's just what it is: a notebook I use to organise myself. It does not have bugs or a battery, or internet, and thus it's way less distracting and as portable as it gets. I started doing this about three months ago, switching from a heavy-ish set of Org mode files.

    5 votes
  4. Lynndolynn
    Link
    I don't do a terribly good job of it, but I've been using Google Sheets. I have one sheet dedicated to tracking expected monthly expenses like rent or insurance to make sure I'm nominally balanced...

    I don't do a terribly good job of it, but I've been using Google Sheets. I have one sheet dedicated to tracking expected monthly expenses like rent or insurance to make sure I'm nominally balanced on average; another one to look ahead by a year or two with expected (but not regular) expenses like tuition or medical procedures to make sure I'm solvent in the long run; and another one keeping track of things on a daily basis to make sure I'm keeping on track with my estimates, allocate my money into virtual buckets, and examine my past spending behavior. I have graphs on the last two sheets to help with visuals.

    It works pretty well when I'm actually using it. I need to actually go back in and keep things updated, but it's been difficult to do much of anything lately because I've been struggling with depression.

    4 votes
  5. [2]
    KVDZV
    Link
    Intuit Mint. I have everything linked up in there. It's free.

    Intuit Mint. I have everything linked up in there. It's free.

    3 votes
    1. Archimedes
      Link Parent
      Same here. It's quite convenient.

      Same here. It's quite convenient.

  6. balooga
    Link
    My credit union lets me set up and manage unlimited savings accounts online, and schedule recurring transfers, so I make full use of that. I have a separate account for each bill I pay, and others...

    My credit union lets me set up and manage unlimited savings accounts online, and schedule recurring transfers, so I make full use of that. I have a separate account for each bill I pay, and others designated for specific types of expenses. Every payday a bunch of scheduled transfers fire, allocating the proper amounts to the right places. When a bill is due, I auto-transfer the balance back into my checking account right before the auto-pay occurs.

    It's a little complicated to look at the whole list of 20+ accounts and even more scheduled transfers, but the automation has saved me a lot of work and frustration in the long run. It's really just a digital version of the envelope method, which is a pretty old idea. I like having all my "spoken for" funds immediately removed from my available balance so I can't spend them by accident.

    3 votes
  7. Pabc1
    Link
    This is something that I really recently started doing. Right now I'm using Ledger. Specifically with emacs in org-mode. I have found it really helpful for keeping track of my expenses and to set...

    This is something that I really recently started doing.
    Right now I'm using Ledger. Specifically with emacs in org-mode. I have found it really helpful for keeping track of my expenses and to set a budget.
    I haven't even gotten deep into ledger capabilities and I still feel there's much more I can do with it but as of now it's been perfect for my personal needs.

    3 votes
  8. SourceContribute
    Link
    I use Google Sheets (and pen & paper) for each paycheck and to manage the overall flow: how much cash needs to be spent directly, how much is put into savings, how much to pay down credit cards. I...

    I use Google Sheets (and pen & paper) for each paycheck and to manage the overall flow: how much cash needs to be spent directly, how much is put into savings, how much to pay down credit cards.

    I use YNAB to keep track of individual accounts and to keep an eye on what average amounts are spent in different categories (essentials, credit card payment, misc. where essentials contains rent and transportation to work for example).

    This way I can set aside a % of my income to cover the overall category and then shift amounts in sub-categories (for example moving money from groceries to cover a dinner outing, or from buying books to paying for movies or whatever).

    YNAB's goal setting is also very useful!

    3 votes
  9. [3]
    MimicSquid
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    Running a bookkeeping business, I use the same software that I recommend to my clients and that my employees use every day. No better way to stay familiar with its ins and outs than using it...

    Running a bookkeeping business, I use the same software that I recommend to my clients and that my employees use every day. No better way to stay familiar with its ins and outs than using it myself. It's massively overpowered for a household as simple as my own, but it's worth it for the familiarity.

    I share a household with my wife, and our finances are (almost) fully merged. Everything we make from our day jobs goes into the pot, and we pay everything from there. We each get a small stipend of fun money to do with as we please, but aside from that all savings and spending is mutual and agreed on together. The exception is that my wife's hobbies occasionally turn out salable items that she puts up on Etsy and the proceeds from that are hers alone to do with as she pleases. (Almost exclusively put back into tools and materials, as one does.)

    2 votes
  10. cge
    Link
    For accounting, like many others here, I use a ledger/plain-text-accounting-based system, currently using hledger. These (ledger, hledger, beancount, etc) have, for me, the particular advantage...

    For accounting, like many others here, I use a ledger/plain-text-accounting-based system, currently using hledger. These (ledger, hledger, beancount, etc) have, for me, the particular advantage that they are simultaneously lightweight, flexible, extensible, and scalable. A simple, single account ledger can be easily managed with hledger, while I've also used it for an organization large enough to require audited financial statements, and have experienced no problems with our accounts or our auditors. A particular advantage of plain text accounting is that the formats are generally well-described and easy to manipulate with other tools.

    However, the lack of features can be frustrating. While, in theory, having a flexible system for different products, hledger is in practice almost useless for investments, lacking basic abilities like historical pricing and cost basis tracking. Ledger and beancount are apparently a bit better, but also, it seems, lack good accounting for cost basis and lots, expecting all of that to be dealt with manually.

    In terms of tracking and sharing expenses: I currently do two things:

    • For clear cases where something should be split, or paid by someone else, I put the appropriate portion of the amount not in an expenses account, but in an accounts-receivable account from the appropriate person. I then keep track of the accounts-receivable accounts, and use those for tracking how much I am owed. In a group situation, the same type of method could likely be used for everyone: eg, receivable/accrued-expense accounts for each person, which they pay into.
    • For less clear cases, where an expense might be something someone else might want to pay for some reason, I use hledger's tagging to place it under a tag collecting those charges. This allows me to easily find and present the expenses, while still showing up, conservatively, as parts of my financial statements.
  11. tnkflx
    Link
    Homebank. Personally, the most difficult part of budgetting is not so much which app to use, but trying to stick with it...

    Homebank.

    Personally, the most difficult part of budgetting is not so much which app to use, but trying to stick with it...