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2019 Spending Estimate

May 16, 2019

I’m back to tracking spending!

I have been wanting to pick up budgeting again, but we’ve not done budgeting in a very long time. My goal isn’t to set limits on any particular category or even total spending.  Rather, I want to really understand where our money is going and how much we spend each year.  With the addition of a baby, I’m sure things look different than the past, but I didn’t know really how they would look.  So, budgeting isn’t the goal, but tracking spending is.

With that in mind, I started looking for an app or service that could help, with the following features:

  • No linking to bank accounts required. This is less because of security concerns and more because these interfaces always seemed buggy.
  • Ability to manually enter transactions on-the-go, from my phone
  • An annual view of the our spending: actual spending for past months and projected spending for future months, both for current month. This is important, as monthly budgets don’t really make sense for how I run and think about our finances
  • Free!  Or maybe a small one-time fee.

I didn’t quickly find anything that met my desires, especially compared to my old system.  It is an excel file with a list of transactions pulled into a pivot table, then some basic formulas to do a forecast/actual page.  The only thing it lacked was an easy way to enter transactions on-the-go with my phone. I figured out how to do that with a Google Sheets form, so I’m back in business!  (I do have to copy and paste info from Google Sheets into Excel.)

I was inspired enough to go back and do my best guess at categorizing all of our past spending in 2019 so far, using our credit card history.  There are surely holes, such as what precisely we bought Costco for each trip (I just said it was groceries) and some cash transactions.  Still, it is a reasonable estimate.

I’m excited about this!  Our current projected spending is the highest yet, with our house leading the list, followed by child care.  This is no surprise.  It is nice to observe how the recast of the mortgage and elimination of the student loan had the intended effect on our yearly spend.  It is also interesting to note that the smallish purchases to accomodate the newest member of the family really add up.  It also reminded me I need to send in some receipts for pump parts to my flex spending account for reimbursement!

I’m happy to have this insight again.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2019 9:08 am

    I use an app called Checkbook Pro (on iOS). I used the free version for awhile, but paid for the Pro version to be able to have more features. I want to say it was $4.99 maybe. It’s just a check register, but it has features where you can view daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly expenses or incomes. It has a pie chart and shows the percentages of each category. You can also export it as a .csv, HTML, or QIF file. It may not have everything you are looking for, but it has some of what you listed you are looking for. Also, do you have a blank version of your Excel sheet available for others? I’m super interested in that. I have self made spreadsheets to track debt payoff, but pivot tables and fancy formulas elude me. haha!

    • May 17, 2019 2:04 pm

      That seems pretty useful.

      I don’t have one off hand, but I could probably make it blank. My home budget was my excuse to learn how to use Excel a little better.

      • May 20, 2019 8:01 am

        I exported my checkbook from the app to Excel and created a Pivot Chart. Pretty eye opening! I need to do it every month though. I was working with a years worth of data. It’s showing me I need to narrow down my categories and might help with our spending in certain areas.

    • May 21, 2019 2:38 pm

      Do you want me to contact you at the e-mail you provided in your comment with a blank version to play with? I think with a pivot chart you already said you made, you pretty much have what you need, but I’m happy to share!

  2. May 20, 2019 12:33 pm

    I’ve been doing a higher level tracking in my manual spreadsheet for a couple years now and sometimes I wonder if I should be doing it at a more micro level. At the moment I just track the payment totals monthly.

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