I get so many email questions from people all over the country asking my opinion on their financial lives. I love it, I truly do. Unfortunately, I can’t always answer every single question I receive. Which is why I’m reviving the Ask Pete the Planner Video Mailbag. Boom.
Good Afternoon Pete the Planner!
I read your columns regularly and have had several learnings that I’ve applied.
I will be 62 next week, my wife is 63. We plan on retiring in a couple of years, and I want to use this time to get real perspective on our spending. In doing so, I’m hoping to better prepare ourselves for healthy spending habits post-retirement. I’ve been reviewing software packages that automate the tracking process. Do you recommend a solution?
I do have a solution Rob, but it’s not a piece of software. There are so many software solutions out there that aggregate your data into an app, but what happens is you just have a lot of data you don’t know what to do with. If you aren’t analyzing the data, there isn’t really a point to aggregating it in the first place.
I prefer people to use Excel or something where you manually enter your data. Yes, I am asking you to stick with an old-fashioned spreadsheet, despite all the lovely and life-changing technology available at your fingertips. Why? Glad you asked. When you manually enter your data into a budget, you start to see what’s really going on in your financial life.
With an app that aggregates your data you’ll see you spent $350 on dining out this month, but what you won’t see is that $100 of it was on lunches out during the workday. Manually entering data also helps you see patterns. Do you always overspend after pay day? Do you spend more at the grocery store if you go after work than if you go on the weekend? You won’t be able to answer these questions unless you are down and dirty in the data.
Go forth and (manually) budget!
Got a question? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it could get answered in my next video.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.