As a result of the problems identified in my previous article with Mint.com’s annual “Net Savings Over Time” report, I decided to nerd out on money tracking again. Apologies to those of you who don’t enjoy these articles as much as some of my others. However, much like Darrow Kirkpatrick did with retirement calculators, I believe it’s important to understand the pluses and minuses associated with popular money tracking software. This is especially crucial considering the importance I place on tracking money, to begin with.
I spent several days prior to writing this article improving the fidelity of my data in my Mint.com account. I also rebuilt my entire 2017 financial year in Quicken. Doing so allowed me to total my net savings for the year in Quicken and verify if I made any mistakes with my Mint calculations.
To refresh everyone’s memory, when I initially ran Grumpus Familias’s net savings for 2017 through Mint as part of my annual end of year fiscal review, it reported we saved $70.5K. However, I didn’t trust that number due to my inability to verify whether or not Mint accounted for our annual Roth IRA transfer. The program, as far I could tell, didn’t allow for that determination. After spending a few days double checking entries, modifying several transaction labels, and re-displaying reports; Mint now shows an annual net savings of $69.5K. Obviously, I had approximately $1K of transactions mislabeled in my previous report. However, I still cannot verify exactly how Mint determines expenses and income for this report. As a result, I don’t trust this number any more than the previous one. Continue reading Track Your Money (Part 4): Mint All Breakdown
In case you can’t tell from my title, this article is a follow-on to my previous two “Tracking Your Money” posts. In the first article, I reviewed my historical use of various software applications to track my money over the past 20 years or so. In the second, my brother (Grumpus Brotherus the Younger) reviewed the software application called You Need A Budget (YNAB).
If you did not read the first post in this series, you probably should. I don’t just say that because my brother’s post sucked (it did), and I think mine is much better (it was), or I want the extra site traffic (I do). No, I say that because I actually made a few worthwhile points in the post … if I do say so myself. However, if you’re unwilling or unable to go to the post, let me provide you a re-cap. Continue reading Track Your Money (Part 3): Passive Tracking
Anyone who read my previous posts, An Unintentional Meander Up Grumpus Avenue Part 1 and Part 2 understands the cost associated with my decisions to either work with a money management professional, or go it alone. While I can’t promise that I will never use a professional service again, currently I am a dedicated DIY investor. However, it is not like I forgo all professional advice. It is simply that these days I do not pay for it. In this post I intend to show you how I saved thousands of dollars over the last three years, while obtaining professional level money and investing advice. I will also point you in the direction of where you might be able to obtain the same level of advice for free, or almost free. Continue reading How I Save Thousands Of Dollars and Get Professional Money Advice
(**Grumpus Maximus is an Amazon affiliate. See Disclosures for more details.**)
OK, I’ve written two monster posts over the past two weeks, one of which I felt was a personal best. The other covered an extremely complicated topic which required a lot of research and rewrites. Even with all the scrutiny, Grumpus Brotherus The Younger still had to catch a few mistakes in the first published version of my last article.
(Quick segue: For all you fresh faced bloggers out there, it turns out this blogging thing is a lot harder than it looks. Not only do you have to create awesome content, but you need to make it look appealing with stock photography; think up terribly witty [or plainly terrible] captions; hotlink references to your previous posts; and promote your persona and site on social media. Admittedly I cannot keep that pace of work up alone, so I am taking on some easier subjects and topics until I find a blogging assistant. I am interviewing for the job in case you are interested. You can submit your resume in the form of a 1000 word essay at email@example.com.)
Since the day I met her, Mrs. Grumpus has insisted that men cannot multi-task effectively, unlike women. My typical Confucian-like retort used to be something along the lines of, “the woman who splits her attention among multiple tasks does none of them well”. These days though I believe I’ve harnessed my inner woman enough to master the art of listening to podcasts while doing other more menial tasks. Work and family demands mean time is too precious to let self-improvement opportunities slip by while commuting, cutting the lawn, gardening, cleaning the garage, driving the Grumpus Minimi (pronounced min-nee-my) to swim lessons, or listening to Mrs. Grumpus talk (just kidding honey!).
In fact not only do I double-up on tasks, I now triple-up by commuting on my bike with a pair of earbuds. For you math challenged out there: commuting, exercising, and listening are the three tasks.
I discovered the value of podcasts while stationed in Europe. I was cut off from my standard commuting radio selection of NPR, NPR, and more NPR.
The two avid readers of this blog site (probably my parents — Grumpus Maternus and Grumpus Paternus) might recall a mention in a previous post of my three-legged stool of Financial Independence (FI) knowledge. They might also recall that I built that stable platform of knowledge through blogs, books, and podcasts.
The first leg I discussed in-depth was blogs. In this post, I am going to discuss books. I am specifically going to discuss three books, two booklets, and one chapter that taken together would allow a person to plot a course to FI. The beauty with this list is that it includes a different book for each of the different stages in that journey. From those needing simply the motivation to start, to those ready to write retirement plans, create spreadsheets, and make investment moves. There is a little bit of something in here for everyone. Continue reading 3 Books + 2 Booklets + 1 Chapter = Financial Independence (FI)
Remember how I said Grumpus Brotherus had used You Need A Budget (YNAB) for years? Well, when I asked him to write a paragraph for my Track Your Money post, he sent an entire post’s worth of information back. Instead of editing the material down to a paragraph to fit my article, I decided to give him his own post. I present you here the first guest author for the Grumpus Maximus blog! Now I must warn you that Grumpus Brotherus is a nerd … I mean N-E-R-D. Which is ok these days since the nerds will apparently inherit the Earth. But at points within the article, he does geeks out on software
interface and whatnot. It is hard to believe he flies in fighter jets for a living. Although I guess jets are more software than hardware these days, so maybe it makes sense. In any case, I edited a little to de-nerd it for us ‘laypeople’, but otherwise all the themes are his own; completely unprompted by me …. you will see what I mean. Enjoy. — Grumpus Maximus Continue reading Track Your Money (Part 2): YNAB
I’ve referred to building a retirement plan in several previous posts, and I will show you how I did it in future posts. But before we get to that I need to talk to you about an endemic problem afflicting most Americans…. the problem associated with tracking money. No, I am not talking about the need to track money that finances terrorism or organized crime. I am talking about the need to track your money.
In April 2014 Business Insider reported that 61% of US adults do not track their money. That was only six years after the financial meltdown of 2008! That is pretty damning, but not surprising … at least not to me. As someone who has tracked their money religiously for the past 18 years, I can attest it takes time and discipline. It is often undervalued and much maligned as a “man” activity in my family (just ask Mrs. Grumpus). However, long before I taught myself anything about the investing world, Financial Independence (FI), or early retirement options I used to lock myself away with piles of receipts in my man cave every two or three months– just so I would know how our money was being spent.
Are you interested in achieving Financial Independence (FI) either before or after your pensionable career? So was I two years ago, so I started educating myself on personal finances. For those of you who’ve read Grumpus Maximus vs. The Golden Albatross, you know I’ve now spent more time researching FI than I did studying for my two liberal arts degrees. Blogs, books, and podcasts are the three primary resources I used (and still use) to expand my knowledge. Think of them as a three-legged stool for FI knowledge, and I intend to post on all three “legs” in the future. I decided to start with blogs, so below are links to 5 + 1 blogs that I’ve found extremely useful during my financial education project.