Tracking expenses when prepaying for stuff

I was wondering what systems/apps etc people use for tracking their living expenses? I try to keep records but find that some months I prepay for a lot of future expenses (eg. Airbnb, flights etc) while other months I spend little because everything has already been made.

I guess what I need to know is my actual spending in a month, regardless of when I actually spent the money but also the cash flow for each month.

I’ve struggled with this a lot myself.
What I do is create a “monthly burn rate” where I estimated how much money I spend in a month by totaling everything up. Then I can just look at my bank accounts and see how far off I am. If I’m far off, then I need to dig into the account to see what purchases I made.

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We track “everything” in Quicken. We’ve been using it for so many years, so we have easily two decades of data data to go back on for data mining and comparisons. We use “tap to pay” or “contactless” (android pay) when ever possible to cut down on paper receipts that need to be scanned before destruction, but otherwise we almost never use cash to make it easier to track everything, and we always scan/pdf save each transaction for cross referencing.

I think a new more and online system for users is something like mint, to do this type of tracking and reporting of budget, spend, and actuals. I don’t keep our records online so we’ve kept the old system in place.

As for your original question, about tracking pre-paid stuff, we just separate out the expense in the ledger when necessary to show the cost of an item that was prepaid or covered multiple months, like our 6 month rental contract. You can make a place holder item for the original transaction, then another place holder for the month where the money should be applied/denoted, calculated.

Once the data is recorded, it’s super simple to check budgets, estimates and run reports. I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else is using such a system.

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Not happy with current finance tracking applications, so creating something custom what works better for me. One of the problems is single time long-term expenses, which I’m thinking about solving (if needed) by splitting in into multiple months. So, you could try to guess in how many smaller expenses you could split it into, and balance over multiple months. Might not be the most exact expense tracking, but it would avoid those big spikes when planning for something in the future.

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I use an old fashioned spreadsheet and put expenses in for the month they’ll apply to rather than the month they were paid (e.g. August rent goes under August even if I pre-booked and paid in April).

It’s a good way to do it but I want to know both, mostly because I have months were I freak out about the change in my total money, then realise I’ve paid for a flight, booked some Airbnbs, had a few other big future expenses.

I used to have a system where I paid myself a salary each month and kept that in a separate account. I think I’ll go back to doing that.

We’ve used travel wallet for the last year and love it. We add out accommodation costs at the beginning of the month, then add daily expenses as we go. Super easy.

We have been using Expensify app. It has a free version, but we pay $5/month for more features. It scans paper receipts OCR and auto categories and even convert currencies automatically. Then we export to a spreadsheet to our bookkeeper.