Managing personal finances and investment portfolios can be very complicated even with all the digital tools that are available to consumers. Even with Internet sites, smart phones, laptops and tablets, information still needs to be tracked by the consumer and updated on a regular basis. Some of this data can be updated automatically, but other information has to be manually tracked. I have used complex financial management software programs in the past, but in recent years I have scaled back my tracking mechanisms. Today, I try to keep my investment portfolio and personal finance tracking much more simple.
A one-page spreadsheet
The bulk of my finances are tracked on a one-page spreadsheet. The sheet includes several lists that differentiate college funds, retirement accounts and other investments. That spreadsheet is updated with new data on a quarterly basis. While the spreadsheet does not necessarily provide me with a large amount of data in terms of long-term fund performance, it does give me a summary snapshot of my portfolio. There are times when I miss the more comprehensive tools of computer-based financial software, but I enjoy the simplicity of having a one-page summary that I can quickly reference.
There are a variety of app-based software packages that can be very helpful in tracking finances. I do still use simpler software and particular websites to track some of my daily finances. For example, I use an app-based software package to track my checking and savings accounts. This allows me to maintain more standard tracking strategies that pair well with checkbook management and ongoing personal finance. Credit cards are tracked with my smart phone and websites. Most of my bills are paid online through my checking account and credit cards.
Despite the fact that I keep my finances simple, I do occasionally use online calculators to compile long-term projections and make adjustments to my investments. Despite a simpler approach to money management, I still need to plan, pick new investments, and adjust my retirement strategies. Again, some of this could be done more fluidly if I still used certain software packages. However, I have found that my new strategy for managing my finances has made life less cumbersome and easier to track. Perhaps I will make more adjustments in the future, but for now I like to keep money management as simple as possible.
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