Monthly money rituals

It’s almost the end of the month!

What are your monthly money rituals? (Tracking, summarizing, adjusting, graphing, planning, worrying, celebrating, setting goals for OMD challenges, whatever you do!)

What rituals work well for you? What feels missing or off?

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  1. Download all transactions
  2. Categorize transactions, cause some are always incorrect and some (Target, Amazon) will always need to be custom if I don’t want a black hole “shopping” category.
  3. Manually update spreadsheet with monthly spending on there, so I end up going through everything line by line.
    3a. Monthly fixed expected stuff (mortgage payment, Netflix fee, etc.)
    3b. Monthly variable expected stuff (gas, utilities, groceries/restaurants etc.)
    3c. Variable expenses (clothing purchases, household stuff, etc.)
    3d. Add any notes for Mr. Meer, usually for lumpy expenses
  4. Update net worth thingummy which also has monthly savings rate calculator built in so we can see the savings taken directly from our paychecks also. Most of our savings is taken out that way, if we looked only at how much of our take home pay we save it would be really depressing.
  5. Back up to [location] where Mr. Meer can also see it.

This usually happens monthly, then sometimes it’s really late like how I did August last weekend. I downloaded September’s stuff too and got some of the categorizing out of the way so finalizing September should hopefully take less time. If any money needs to be shifted between accounts to keep balances where we want them, that happens during this review too but that only happens a few times a year.

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I wrap up my budget, calculate total debt, total assets (and thus net worth), set budget categories for the next month, and set goals for OMD monthly challenges.

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  • Review spending in Mint. I’ve been using it long enough that it does the general categorization fairly accurately, this is more for me to make sure that no unexpected charges have showed up on any credit cards. I do do recategorization at this point if necessary, though.
  • Log spending/saving in tracking spreadsheet by general categories, pull in taxes paid so I’ve got the full picture. This is mostly just of interest to me, but I keep 1 year/3 year/5 year running averages so I can see how things change. 2020 is throwing everything off.
  • Log investment account values in spreadsheet. Again, mostly just out of interest, I try to limit rebalancing to a max of twice a year
  • Quick review of upcoming bills. The things I’ve put on CCs are known since I use them for basically everything just for tracking purposes, but more irregular things like property taxes, car insurance, home insurance, etc. I try to cross-check with the previous bill to see what the change looks like (i.e. is it bad enough to be worth shopping around) and to make sure that the float in my bill-pay checking account enough to cover or is this a month where something gets pulled from savings.
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My main budget tool is YNAB. I import and categorize transactions throughout the month, and all bills are on autopay so at month’s end I just clean up the budget (sweeping surpluses that don’t need to carry over into savings or debt prepayment), set up the next month‘s starting budget categories, and update balances on debt and investment accounts.

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  • make sure the spreadsheet has all income and spending
    (I haven’t broken down the credit card spending into categories since April. Bad Smacky.)
  • put final numbers in many different sheets within the spreadsheet document
  • make rent receipts and deliver them
  • do final numbers on the airbnb. Pay myself and the airbnb bills.
  • do a monthly airbnb report
  • count up the kid chores recorded on the calendar and pay them
  • move money around accounts so chequing has a minimum buffer balance and as much as possible is in savings or investments

That list looks incomplete. I do other things.

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  • Wonder when my landlord will get around to depositing my rent check
  • Pay CC bills after looking through each transaction (and usually having to run down a couple. Why your charge name no the same as your sign out front?)
  • Remind myself that I should move some money from one place to another. Then not do it
  • Pay utility bills
  • That’s about it. Just kind of on auto-pilot
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  • make sure spending categories are correct for last month’s transactions
  • make new budget in Mint for the month
  • move money around from checking to savings/investments
  • that’s about it. My rent includes all of my utilities so it’s my only bill and I pay it in cash. My most annoying money ritual is trying to remember which ATM in town will give me the full amount of rent in one transaction so I don’t have to go two days in a row :joy:
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I don’t do it monthly per se, but do the following at least once a month but some things I do more often:

  1. Manually update spreadsheet workbook;
    A. Spending - based on receipts and billing statements I usually do this within a few days of receiving the info;
    B. Asset balances - at least once a month-ish, but sometimes more frequently (when market is moving up)
  2. All my regular bills are on autopay - including credit cards. Very few expenses (less than 5/year) fall outside of this set up. Makes life so much easier for me, and I think it was key for my saving when I was starting out.
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Rituals:

  1. Income & expenses (YNAB) - I categorize 1-2x/week, so this is more about reviewing each category. Then I set next month’s budget. Usually it’s a copy of last month, but I’ll adjust if a category is repeatedly high/low.
  2. Total assets/debts (Tiller + custom spreadsheet) - A Tiller spreadsheet syncs all accounts (we have 19 of them, because Old and Job Switching and Side biz/projects). There are 4 buckets: cash/equivalents, midterm investments, retirement accounts, real estate. Income & expenses get copied over from YNAB. Estimated home value is pulled from Zillow and mortgage balance from the bank. The final numbers I look at are monthly & YTD savings rates, and monthly & YTD net worth change.
  3. Chat with spouse about anything unusual or behavior changes we want to make - For the first few years we needed more time, but now it’s only ~10 mins. (This month the summary was let’s dial back on grocery stockpiling but don’t stress about ongoing groceries, and throw more $$ into election donations.) Once or twice a year (usually around New Year’s, but also sometimes if big life/world changes are happening) we’ll take a couple hours to talk about bigger-picture changes.

All my regular bills (including credit card) are on autopay. I used to pay my credit card manually but would forget 1-2x a year, get hit with fees, then call and try to get them waived… not worth it. Turns out I catch anything weird during my weekly YNAB review anyway. Standard taxable investments (mostly into a Vanguard target date fund) are also on auto.

Reflections:

  • Our actual savings rate is good, but I keep being stupidly optimistic when setting budget amounts and overspending like 5-10% across the board. Going forward, I want to set realistic budgets for each category and stick to them. Hm, maybe that’s my Budgetober challenge.
  • I only added Part 2 (Tiller, etc.) this January, but I find this info super valuable. It’s been extra nice during the wild market swings of 2020.
  • The monthly updates take ~1 hour. I usually spend another hour fiddling or thinking. This feels finicky and tedious — but I guess 2 hours/month to know exactly what’s up is not bad.
How the spreadsheet is set up:

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I do love end of the month money rituals :slight_smile:

  • Download then import transactions from my credit card/bank into YNAB (I still have the old YNAB). Review all transactions and approve as I put them into the correct categories.
  • Clean up any categories that are overspent and/or way under budget
  • Make sure that we’ve used up all our donations budget for the month, if not then discuss with spouse where the remaining money is going to be spent
  • Update excel spreadsheet with investment holdings and amounts across retirement and taxable accounts
  • Figure out how much money is left-over from the month and put that into taxable investments (stock, international stock, or bonds depending on where we need to allocate that month)

I usually try to get taxable investments in by the 5th of the month. Spouse is prone to wanting to time the market so I’m willing to play his game for a few days but if he’s not ready to pull the trigger by the 5th then he knows its going in regardless.

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Every payday: I make sure all my transactions are logged and categories are updated in my spreadsheet. I figure out how much money I need to leave in my checking account for the next two weeks, and the rest goes wherever it needs to go – credit card, savings, IRA.

End of month: Do my calculations, which include monthly savings and strength rates; how many days of retirement I’ve funded; end of month net worth; YTD savings and earnings; tracking # of shares owned in various funds. And ofc pay rent, my favorite monthly money ritual. :eyeroll:

Most of my bills and donations are on autopay, except for rent and credit card.

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My monthly ritual is just transferring money to our joint account and then paying 3 CC bills (sometimes 4, if I used the 4th card). And then transferring any extra to savings. We have everything else on autopay (rent = bank sends check), but somehow, I’ve never trusted autopay for credit cards.

Checking/categorizing transactions is pretty ad hoc, sometimes around paydays (weekly! Its weird!) because I love seeing the numbers go up so I log in :grin:

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Somewhere between three and five days after the end of the month, remember to check and make sure I got paid. Google reminds me on the 15th of every month to pay bills. I’ll review the credit card charges before I pay them. That’s pretty much it.

Couple times a year I check our investments, and usually at the same time update my liquid assets spreadsheet, which is all accounts that have money in them.

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