How to log and categorize expenses with several little ones?!

Hey folks!

How would you all recommend logging receipts/categorizing expenses while also shopping with three boys under four? How have you done this with your family?

My routine has been for my wife and me to collect receipts in a basket, then once a week (hopefully), run through all the receipts, hunt down lost ones (not always recovered - prob an 85% success rate), itemize and categorize all expenses, then move monies around to pay off our credit cards immediately. While this process gets an A for its thoroughness, it's also a 90+ minute activity. Which means as soon as we put the boys down, I do this, and then as soon as I'm finished, we go to bed. 👎 

So I'm wondering if anyone here has a better/simpler system to keep things tidy, collected, and current.  Any thoughts are most welcome! 🙌

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  • I find that there's usually a brief moment of sanity when the kiddo(s) are buckled into their carseats, before driving away from the store.  So I'll put the receipt either with my phone, or sticking awkwardly out of my wallet, so that I can O.H.I.O. it before we drive away from the store. 

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    • WordTenor
    • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
    • WordTenor
    • 9 mths ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    This sounds like perfect being the enemy of the good. 

    At Target, most of my shopping is "shopping." 
    At Aldi, most of my shopping is "grocery."  

    Sometimes I buy a few groceries at Target. Sometimes I buy a household thingamadoodle at Aldi. I might in that circumstance, go, "Okay. I bought $10-ish of groceries at Target. On my way out, I enter a split transaction with the total, with $10 in groceries and $45.22 to shopping. But if the weird category is less than about $10, depending on how I'm feeling, I might not even bother to do that. In the grand scheme of things, not having my grocery spending record perfectly reflect that oops, that one time this month I went to Aldi I bought a $4.42 candle...who really cares? It would be much worse to get snared up and frustrated with the budget over trying to track such a tiny purchase than to have my grocery spending overstated by a candle. 

    Enter the transaction as you are leaving the store. If there's some major secondary category, try to capture it as you do. But don't leave dealing with the budget until the end of the week, and don't get perfectionistic about it. 

    I pay my card once a month, btw. Using YNAB there is no reason to do anything other than that. So that's another hassle you can safely jettison. 

    Reply Like 2
  • Hi, tsharrelson

    I update my budget daily. It takes me less than 5 minutes. Controling the money is critical because it intersects every single aspect of my life.  No more surprises for me. I'm in charge of this life.  I've been updating my budget figures daily for so long now (initially on paper, then spreadsheets, then YNAB), that on those few occasions when I can't spend those few minutes dealing with my numbers, it feels like my day is incomplete.  I would no more consider not updating my budget than I would consider not brushing my teeth before going to bed, not locking my door, or not doing the dishes after supper.

    My personal experience with incorporating changes to my routine is that I have to deliberately force myself to do things I don't feel like doing (or can't seem to find the time to do) in order to get to the point where it becomes part of the graceful flow of my life.  This year I got a personal medical scare and then I watched my dad's health deteriorate dramatically (he died in May). So, I was suddenly open not only to the notion of personal change but the immediate need to act on those changes. I finally stopped just talking about doing healthier things, stopped just wondering how others could fit it into their busy lives, and I just started doing it.  Some of my initial scheduling attempts were a disaster. It's been messy and uncoordinated at times. Some days, after working a 10- or 12-hour shift, and when the snow is falling, and the traffic is congested, I don't feel like going to the gym on my way home. 

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  • It's more important to have your categories up to date than accurate to the penny. You can always follow Rule 3 and move money around later if your inaccurace used to much of one category and less of another anyway.

    Reply Like 3
  • I get everyone buckled in and then quickly use the app to enter the receipt in (uncleared). Since I just bought everything it's easy to do a split receipt.

    Reply Like 1
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Might sound crazy, but I've made two purchases at the checkout just to keep things separate. 

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    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I've been add receipts everyday too. It doesn't take long. I do not have my bank account linked at this time. More stores are offering to email the receipts, so that will help also. 

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