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Where I work, the payroll system is tied directly to clocking in and out. Thus, if we arrive 3 minutes late, we get paid 3 minutes less and conversely leaving 3 minutes late gets paid 3 minutes more. Due to the nature of the work we almost always clock out around 15 minutes early from a full 8 hours. We do get a record of our clock in out time but it's never an even 8 hours.

This makes it hard to keep track of whether I'm getting paid correctly. In other jobs I could assume I get paid 40 hours per week, but this one has numbers like 37.26 hours one week and 36.89 the next. Furthermore, we recently got a new manager who gave everyone a pay raise to reduce the turn over rate. It turned out there was a mistake made and our pay was not adjusted by the accountant. I feel silly for not have noticed this for several weeks. Also I'm surprised none of my coworkers did either.

My question is, how close should a person keep track of recurring expenses and payments that shouldn't change? If there was an actual change (such as pay raise) I guess I should've known to check. Another example is I never check my cellphone bill because it should be the same each month, but technically it could be different. Are there any tools that can help me with these sorts of tasks?

2 Answers 2

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how close should a person keep track of recurring expenses and payments that shouldn't change?

Very, unless you're very wealthy.

Are there any tools that can help me with these sorts of tasks?

A simple spreadsheet that begins with your checking account balance, and lists on a separate line:

  • date,
  • each deposit/withdrawal,
  • running total, and
  • a description.

I "run it forward" to the end of next month, entering known expenses (cell phone, rent, insurance, etc, etc), and known deposits (like my paychecks) on the dates they're supposed to happen. Thus, not only do I know how much I have now, but I have a good idea how much money I'll have on 31 August and 30 September.

(It's a little more complicated than that if you integrate a credit card, but not much.)

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  • How is using a spread sheet better than just looking at the bank statements? Is the point that your more involved and have to think about it? Aug 11, 2021 at 22:21
  • @casablancaeggplant #1 statements only come out once a month. #2 Your bank's web site can't "run forward" to future dates (including how much you owe in CC payments).
    – RonJohn
    Aug 11, 2021 at 22:30
  • @casablancaeggplant "your more involved and have to think about it" is intrinsic to running the balance forward (essentially planning instead of reacting).
    – RonJohn
    Aug 11, 2021 at 22:31
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Only you can decide how much of your time it is worth to check these things, and which of these things to check as a priority.

My suggestion about priority is that your paycheck should be your highest priority, since it varies, and since if it is wrong, you have the responsibility of notifying your employer so they can fix it. And it's much easier for things to be fixed during the year than when you receive a w-2, and also it's easier to fix things while you're working in the job vs. after you've left.

There are lots of ways to check things, you may want to use a spreadsheet. But the easiest way to start is simply to file the things you are going to check all together, and then each time you are paid (for instance), compare that pay check info to your prior ones. That way you can detect patterns and you can see if something is missing, if there is something new that you weren't expecting, etc..

Then after a while you'll be more familiar with it and can decide about using a spreadsheet or other mechanism as well.

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