Our Surprisingly Lazy (and Free) Money Management System

It’s no secret that I love talking about money. Most of all, I love talking about how to manage it and how to save it! Today, I figured I would FINALLY share the surprisingly lazy system we use to manage our money. But I must caution you, our system is so easy that you just might end up asking why you haven’t done something similar sooner. Not to worry, it’s never too late to get your financial butt in gear and implement a lazy system for yourself! So without further delay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details!

A Note On Automated Payments

 

Money Management | Financial Habits | Paying Bills | Monthly Bills | Monthly Expenses | Personal Capital via @MadMoneyMonsterBefore we dive in head first, I need to make a confession. Surprisingly, I am not a fan of automated payments. It’s most likely due to me being a control freak and when things are automated I feel out of control. Go figure.

I also realize this stems from being a single parent with a single income for a few years. Back then, I really needed to account for every single dollar each month. I ran my checking account pretty low most months, so having anything automated could’ve thrown a wrench into the whole works. Because of this, I became accustomed to accounting for every dollar and not letting my dollars go until I absolutely had to.

During that time I also realized something about my personality. I realized that if I had extra money sitting in my checking account it would be frittered away little by little until it was gone. Hence, I only kept enough in my checking account for one month’s worth of expenses at a time. Anything above that was immediately transferred into investments.

And since I’m the CFO of the Mad Money Monster household, I have to account for my personality.  Therefore, just like before, I direct every dollar where to go at the beginning of each month and transfer the rest into investments. If not, with my frittering personality, we wouldn’t reach financial independence anytime soon.

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Monthly Bills

 

family pic

Our lazy system gives us more time for the fun stuff!

Oh, it’s that time of the month! You know the time I’m talking about. The time you dread so much that you never even thought to devote an additional millisecond to it in order to develop a system. Yep, it’s THAT time of the month. So if you just happen to be someone who doesn’t automate every bill, keep reading.

Just what does our monthly bill payment system look like? Once a month I crack open the computer, sit down in front of my Excel spreadsheet, and get to work.

Gotta Love Excel!

 

About that spreadsheet… I keep a separate tab for each year and each year has 4 columns per month. This is our actual Excel spreadsheet for this month. At the beginning of this month, I inputted all of our income and all of our expenses. I paid all of the bills in one sitting using our bank’s online bill pay. Yay! Done.

October
Bill Amount   Notes
Rental Mortgage xx.xx x
Rental Water xx.xx x
Rental Sewer xx.xx  Quarterly
Rental Trash  xx.xx  Quarterly
House Mortgage xx.xx x
House Water xx.xx x
House Sewer  xx.xx  Quarterly
House Trash  xx.xx  Quarterly
Car Insurance xx.xx x
Internet xx.xx x  Check for discount
Electric xx.xx x
Gas xx.xx x
Mobile xx.xx x
Gas xx.xx x
Groceries xx.xx x
Funny Money xx.xx x
Investment xx.xx x
Investment xx.xx x
Investment xx.xx x
Haircut xx.xx x
Pet Food xx.xx x  Check for store sale
529 Plan xx.xx x
Acorns xx.xx x
School pictures xx.xx x
Mad Money Cat Chip xx.xx x  Chip activation fee
Birthday xx.xx x
Meds xx.xx x
Vet Visit xx.xx x
Misc. xx.xx x
Total Income  Expenses  Difference
xx.xx xx.xx xx.xx

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Investments

 

Aside from my employer-sponsored retirement accounts, we have all of our investments with a single, low-cost brokerage firm. I can count on one hand how many investments we hold with that firm, too. This falls right in line with keeping things simple, lazy, and almost free!

Tracking Our Net Worth

 

Mad Money Cat - Money Management

Mad Money Cat uses Excel. #oldschoolkitty

Without question, the absolute best thing we do for our overall financial health is tracking our net worth using Personal Capital. I must say, if you’re not tracking your net worth, you need to be. It tells you if you’re making progress or digging your debt hole deeper.

Net worth is simply your Assets minus your Liabilities. So even if you feel like you’re not making progress because you don’t have much money to throw at investments every month, as long as you’re paying down debt your net worth is going up! And let me tell you, seeing your net worth go up every month is a big piece of our motivation. In fact, it’s hard for us to NOT check our net worth with the handy-dandy app we have downloaded on our phones.

Personal Capital has a user-friendly website and app, so even the most technologically-impaired person has a real shot at becoming PC-savvy. You can link all of your accounts (including accounts with your employer!) within seconds and everything is secure. The net worth tracking isn’t where their services stop, either.

I do love our spreadsheet, but truth be told, I’m in the process of linking our monthly bills (currently only recorded in our old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet) to have everything in one place. It’ll also help me with reminders so I don’t miss a payment. It doesn’t happen often, but even a control freak can make a mistake.

And just in case you love financial planning and investment analyzing like we do, Personal Capital can do that, too! And all of this is for Free. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t give up our spreadsheet, but I will enjoy having a backup with reminders. If you’re looking for a streamlined financial tool with plenty of options, I suggest giving Personal Capital a try!

Well, there you have it. That’s how we manage our money in a nutshell. Do you have a better system or a helpful tip? We’d love to hear it!

 

Money Management | Financial Habits | Paying Bills | Monthly Bills | Monthly Expenses | Personal Capital via @MadMoneyMonster

 

8 comments… add one
  • Jason Nov 19, 2017, 9:42 pm

    I actually think that I am too loose. I mean we put everything on one of our credit cards, but we aren’t very intentional with our spending. We don’t put a lot of restrictions on it and that has led to some months where we go over we need to be. For the fall months it is fine because we can cover it up with income, but the spring and summer always seemed to fall short. We need to keep it tight!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 20, 2017, 2:51 pm

      We try to avoid using credit cards at all. I know you can get points and travel hack, but I know we spend more when we’re using plastic as opposed to cash. One of the best things we’ve done is to track our net worth. That has really helped us keep our eyes on the ball and stay motivated. Good luck with your journey!

  • Sid Nov 9, 2017, 2:47 am

    I love automated payments. It saves so much of my energy not having to micro-manage stuff. The only issue for me is that I tend to always save on the lower side thinking whether I’d be able to save this much every month. Because I don’t want to break the habit.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 9, 2017, 9:11 am

      I definitely understand the appeal of automated payments. And, I might just be able to learn to love them, too – if I ever gave them a try. You never know what the future might hold 🙂

  • Mrs. Kiwi Oct 27, 2017, 10:20 am

    I used to not like automatic payments too! I’m such a control freak. But once we had some extra money coming in, and I didn’t have to worry about bouncing my checking account I set up the automatic payments (which oddly enough was my post this morning). It is so nice to have one less thing to worry about. I do still check my accounts regularly to make sure there are no issues.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 29, 2017, 3:11 pm

      It’s not totally out of the question that I’ll try it someday. But old habits die hard. It’s nice to hear you had an easy transition. 🙂

  • Mrs. Groovy Oct 27, 2017, 9:20 am

    We do use auto payments for our monthly bills but I get it about you wanting to remain in control. We use a net worth tracker from Bank of America. I know we should get out of BoA but we’re lazy, too. When we relocate we should be able to join Groovy Sister-in-Law’s credit union.

    Gotta love Mad Money Cat! That serious face tells me he’s seriously crunching the numbers.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 29, 2017, 3:10 pm

      Two thumbs up for lazy wealth building 🙂 Mad Money Cat is totally killing it. Ha!

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