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January 07, 2010


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Nice topic!

I track my net worth monthly, my budget weekly, and my cash flow daily.

For net worth, I use Why? Um, because it's free, and because it's online, I can access it at work as well. That's basically it. Otherwise, I admit there are more versatile programs out there, but this is good enough for me.

As for the budget, I use Splashmoney for the iPod Touch. Yeah, it's an expensive way to budget, but I've cut my teeth on a very similar program for the Palm PDA, where for years, I am used to having my budget down to the last penny.

Now, I just can't use anything less than that, even with something like Mint that downloads all my transactions for me. Literally, every time I buy something, I would pull out my iPod and update my budget on the spot. I don't wait to see $1 pending in my account, and wait a couple of days for the transaction to be complete, and finally get posted online. No, it's done, right then and there.

And because it's portable, I can look at it anywhere, anytime, even when I'm sitting on the John. Yes. I check my budget on the John. Why are you looking at me like that?

During every pay day, I would log on to my online accounts, and verify my direct deposits and all my transactions. I also pay all my bills and credit cards then, so I never run into the problem of not having enough money left or forgetting to pay something.

Actually, Splashmoney automatically sets aside the money needed for each line item budget and bill for me, so I never input that. But because it's already set aside, there's always enough money to pay for any bill when it arrives. This works especially well for non-monthly expenses such as insurance, taxes, and homeowner fees. I even have one set up to buy extra minutes for my cellphone, and I automatically save for birthdays and Christmases year-round.

I'm very happy with this arrangement.

In our case it couldn't be any simpler:

We only have four assets, which (listed in order of value) are:
1) Our Fidelity Investments portfolio of CDs, Municipal Bonds, & Bond Mutual Funds (75.6%)
2) Our Home (13.9%)
3) Our Condo (10.1%)
4) Our Credit Union checking/savings accounts (0.4%)

The Investment portfolio gets updated daily using Fidelity's Active Trader Pro software when I check to see if I have received interest that needs to be reinvested.

Real Estate values don't change every day so I only check them online once in a while just for curiosity and since they will never be sold I don't really care how they fluctuate.

The Credit Union accounts are balanced at the end of every month, money is transferred from savings to checking as needed, and income checks come in by direct deposit.

I don't include debts from credit cards or charge cards because they are paid off every month using Bill Pay.

Since our portfolio is all in income investments and our social security and retirement pension check amounts are known at the start of each year I can also estimate our annual income fairly accurately at the beginning of each year, regardless of what the stockmarket does.

I also track our net worth monthly using I use it mainly since it is free and I just liked the idea of keeping a general idea of our net really doesn't matter much to us, but it is nice to watch it go up regularly.

My 401k and my husband's pension plan contributions are taken automatically from our paychecks. Every other monthly bill including the Roth IRA contribution is either automatically deducted from our checking account or automatically charged to our credit cards. The credit cards are the only bills I have to pay off manually every month using their online payment systems.

Our budget and our cash flow are kept on the same Excel sheet at home. I update our budget at least once or twice a week with every purchase we've made or any cash we have withdrawn (less than $200 a month).

We use our credit cards for almost everything so it's really easy to keep track of our expenses. If we use cash, it was already taken into account on our budget as a cash withdrawal, so we don't have to worry about itemizing the same thing twice. While I update the Excel sheet, I also verify that all the charges as correct.

If we cannot afford to pay for something in cash, then we wouldn't charge it. We also rarely spend more than 60% of what we make in a month including the mortgage, so we always have enough to fully pay off the cc balances each month. If we do have a large or unexpected purchase (like a big car expense or our TV), that amount would be covered by one of our savings accounts for the purpose - Auto and Home, Vacation/Fun, Taxes, or the Emergency/Savings account. Each of these accounts also receives monthly funding, so we have plenty of backup.

Lastly, if there is any money left at the end of the month after all expenses and savings, we split it evenly between the Emergency/Savings account and the Vacation/Fun Account. There isn't usually much left, but it is fun to increase the Vacation/Fun account even more when we can. :-)

I use Quicken, most updates happen once a month. You can easily graph your network for any time period to see how you are doing.

At the end of the day, I think net worth is the most important measure.

But one of the easiest ways to track the ups and downs of your money is to use It's free and it uploads information automatically from bank and credit card accounts. They even have an iPhone app.

I do a net worth calculation once a month but just based on the numbers that I can add up in my head. As I hold a lot of cash and my investments don't fluctuate too much the increase comes mostly from savings.


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