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Software or ways you budget your finances

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Guinness23 posted 6/22/2014 09:32 AM

I am reasonably computer literate. I need to rearrange my finances to budget properly something I admit I never have done.

What is the safest software to do this? I get paranoid about allowing software to access all my accounts.

Help. Thank you.

MovingUpward posted 6/22/2014 09:49 AM

You don't have to allow the software packages to access your accounts if you hand enter in the data. I've been using an excel spreadsheet for years. Each year I start a new spreadsheet. A tab for each month with the main details I want to budget. A line item for each paycheck. A line for each known utility bill, atm cash, mortgage/rent, insurance. . . . .

Dreamboat posted 6/22/2014 11:01 AM

I also use spreadsheets. I download all the transactions for my bank account and Amex (my only active credit card) and then I categorize each expense, such as "utility", "mortgage", "grocery", "fast food", "gas", "home repair", ...etc.

In previous years I only did this at the end of the year, but this year I started doing it every month. I really need to watch my expenses because I have some expensive home repairs so money is tighter this year.

FaithFool posted 6/22/2014 11:19 AM

I'm a total Excel junkie. I borrowed a template from the one used at work for a department I was in.

It has three linked sheets.

The master has a page for every category, the "big picture" overview collects the data and summarizes by month and year, and the "quick look" tells me how quickly I'm spending my discretionary fund every month.

I have it set up so when I'm in the red, the numbers are red and boldface (I draw the line at flashing...).

I'm a nerd that way.

It's very handy at tax time.

[This message edited by FaithFool at 11:19 AM, June 22nd (Sunday)]

inconnu posted 6/22/2014 12:59 PM

I found a really good budgeting spreadsheet template on google docs (now google drive) years ago. I saved it to my computer and customized it for my needs since it had way more categories than I needed.

Guinness23 posted 6/22/2014 16:28 PM

Thanks all!!

circe posted 6/22/2014 16:54 PM

We use excel too!

Like Moo we have a new workbook for each year. Tab one is our big picture with all debts, mortgage, insurance and annual finances like our vacation and gift and charity funds. Each new tab is a new month, and we have savings and inflow and outflow and fudge factors all calculated in so we can just put in the numbers and all the calculations are auto-filled.

We've discovered over the years that we can't line item everything. We have food and household expenses as a single number, because neither of us has time to itemize paper towels and cat litter versus fruit and vegetables. So it's like - all of the food and supplies we regularly buy in the month from the grocery store and wal-mart are lumped together. We update that number about every weekend, so we'll just auto-search our online bank for the name of our grocery store and add all those numbers together for the weekly total and enter that number in to the spreadsheet.

We also tend to round up so we're not working with cents, just dollars, because simplifying means we're more likely to actually do it.

It also makes it "fun" - if you can call it that - to make "vacation" and "blow money" categories and put a bit of money into them each month. That gives us an incentive to actually open the spreadsheet because we want to see how much we've saved for fun, sorta like getting a treat each time you do a chore.

Also we've found that if we overestimate our changing bills - like the gas and electric, which are completely unpredictable and change each month - we let the overflow go into a fun money account and go see a movie or something with it. This has actually (at times, not always) enticed the kids to shut lights off and turn off the fan in their room when they leave, so they could see if that helped earn us a family movie. DH and I may or may not regularly fudge our report of those numbers to report being in the black when we see the kids making an earnest try to shut things off, so they keep doing it.

Mama_of_3_Kids posted 6/22/2014 17:26 PM

I have used Excel, previously, but to get Do3K to better understand budgeting, we are physically writing everything down (in a bill book) and putting every bill, with the amount due, onto a calendar.

Dark Inertia posted 6/22/2014 17:30 PM

I use You Need a Budget.. Got in on sale at Steam for $15... Some might say it is a glorified excel spreadsheet, but it has totally changed my approach to finances and money. I love it!

unbreak_my_heart posted 6/22/2014 21:08 PM

My son swears by YNAB (you need a budget)... I can't get the hang of it...

Dark Inertia posted 6/22/2014 21:42 PM

There definitely is a learning curve to YNAB. I watched all the videos, attended a few webinars and visited the forums... Partly to learn it, and part because I enjoyed it so much. I have taken the value and it's idea of money management to heart... And since my SO is super frugal it ended up being a way to get him more involved in the finances. :) I am with your son, I swear by it. :D

[This message edited by Dark Inertia at 9:42 PM, June 22nd (Sunday)]

GabyBaby posted 6/22/2014 21:48 PM

Another vote for Excel. :)

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