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Make Budgeting Easier- Use Financial Software

by Chris Neighbors

I’m a late starter when it comes to using personal finance software. I’ve always viewed it as a boring spreadsheet that I could make myself in Excel if I really wanted to. Boy was I wrong! I was lucky enough to receive Quicken as a gift yesterday. I had heard great things about it from family members so I was eager to get it installed. After starting the registration process, I realized that it was able to link directly to my bank account. I was very happy with this because I really didn’t want to enter everything manually. Once everything was in sync (not the boy band), I received a ton of information. It was definitely an eye opener! I don’t understand why there are so many blogs written about how to keep track of your personal finances when software like Quicken exists. Those blogs should all be titled "Buy Personal Finance Budgeting Software if You Want to Make Your Life Easier." I suppose there is a lot to be said for someone that can do it by hand, but who has time for that nowadays?

Good:

  • It syncs to your bank account which saves time: I was blown away by this. It gives you an automatic starting point. If you did this by hand you would either have to wait a month to get the new information, or you would have to dig through all your old bank records.

  • It automatically sorts your expenses: My expenses showed up in a nice, color coded pie chart.

  • If you set spending goals for yourself they are easy to follow: They just show up on the front page. Apparently I’m already 3/4 the way to my monthly goal on food.

  • It seems to be user friendly: So far I haven’t had any issues with it. It only took me 15 minutes to set up.

Bad:

  • Some of the expense sorting is inaccurate: When I bought food at Wal-Mart, it went into the shopping category instead of the food category. I guess you can’t expect it to know everything right off the bat.

  • You can’t pay bills from it (that I know of): Quicken has you list all your expenses, but it didn’t offer me an option to pay them. It seems like that would be a huge time saver.

  • I don’t know how to sync other billing information to it: For example, when I entered my Charter monthly billing expense, I had to mark that it changed monthly. I think it would be helpful if Quicken could sync to my Charter account to know what my bill will be. This might be possible, but it wasn’t apparent to me.

What software like Quicken shows is that budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult. The information it has given me is so valuable. I’m pretty sure my copy was purchased from eBay for $30, which is a great deal. I’m sure there are other useful things Quicken 2011 can do. If you know of any, please share!

Chris Neighbors is a MBA student at the University of Nevada, Reno and an employee of the Bureau of Land Management. When he isn't at school or work, you can find him hiking, reading, and blogging. His blog has a relaxed atmosphere where people can learn about personal finance. Chris believes that we all have an abundance of financial knowledge, and if we just share it with one another our lives will be better (and we can save a lot of money). Check out his blog at Chrisneighbors.com and quench your thirst for knowledge, or share one of your financial adventures!

Comments

 

VictorianFireplace said:

I do so agree with you, Chris.  I've had a system on my computer for years now.  At the end of each week I put all of my spending into it.  In addition to my bank account, mortgage, etc, I created a "cash" account also.  Weekly I input my receipts ( all of which I keep until they are entered ) It is indeed eye opening.  I can pull up a report that tells me just how much I spend on any given thing and any time.  I am by no means degreed in finance, but with the handy dandy reports, I can tell in a moments notice where I need to put the breaks on a given spending category.  It's most helpful to assist me in determining where my expenses have risen and where I need to investigate less expensive options (ie: telephone service, electric use, insurance, etc. )

May 15, 2012 12:01 PM

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