Budget software

Ok, realizing this is a pen and paper forum.... you guys are full of great ideas generally, so I thought I would try for an opinion -

anyone use home budgeting software? Spreadsheets? I need to get things under control and I don't want to spend any money on a software program but would like to get a good idea of where money is going and allocate as needed.

Ideas? THANKS.

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For years, I tallied up

For years, I tallied up receipts by category on a piece of graph paper. But then as we were having kids and the number of different categories exploded, I went to Quicken which then I've used for years.

I've also taken quicken data and dumped it into Excel, as I just like the way I can custom a report, or in my case, lay it out, or not print in black ink.

I've taught some financal classes before, so I've got some ideas - if you like just let me know. I think the biggest thing to focus on is to flatten out your expense stream as much as possible, so for example, my life insurance which is billed one time a year, I save 1/12 the amount into a special 'escrow savings' account each and every month. I escrow alot of things for that reason.

I am training my kids on paper, I think for them it's more kynesthetic than keying something into the compuer.

it depends on the way you learn, if you want to carry a pad aournd, how much time you have, etc.

Quicken oldie edition

We bought Quicken years ago and never updated. Program still works perfectly. Absolutely no need for a newer version. Makes for a very low total cost of ownership. You may have already, but you can Google for free $ management apps and check for reviews of them. PortableApps.com has a free one you can run on a thumb-drive and carry with you.

http://portableapps.com/apps/office/gnucash_portable

Thanks!!

Thanks for the portable apps link - that's perfect. I'm leaving my job which is why we need a budget but also why I have time at work to do a budget - so this is perfect! Thanks!

spreadsheet/software combination

I haven't found any personal finance software that does budgeting just the way I like it. It seemed like I'd get to the end of the month and run a report that says "Oh! Look how much you've spent on eating out." You have to figure out how much you think you're going to spend on stuff before the month begins and then track how close you stick to your budget, or it is pretty much useless.

I ended up making my own budget spreadsheets available on this site in the templates area. I use this to do my budget and then use software to track my spending.

Of all the software I've tried the one I used longest was MoneyDance. It was like an easier to use Quicken with most of the features I don't use removed.

However, lately I've using the envelope system for budgeting and been trying to decide between You Need A Budget (YNAB for short) and a program simply called Budget that is available from Snow Mint Creative Solutions.

All the software I've mentioned is shareware with free trial versions available and very responsive developers and user forums.

-Kenny

reguarding the eating out,

reguarding the eating out, here's an idea: cash into an envelope, or pouch, or zippie or such,

and when it's gone it's gone.

we've done that for years and fairly easy to budget to!

my previous comment describes what I used to do

The bit in my previous comment about how much I spent eating out every month was what I used to do before I figured out budgeting that worked for me. I do exactly what you're suggesting with things that aren't necessities. Money in an envelope and when it's gone, it's gone.

-Kenny

Pear Budget

There used to be a spreadsheet out there that was quite complex, but seemed to me excellent for budgeting. It's called Pearbudget. I found it at www.pearbudget.com. But I'm sure some changes have been made (they were talking about a web 2.0 version). It might be worth looking into.

-Jon

Spreadsheet

I drafted my own Excel spreadsheet, it's a simple countdown broken into two segments: known expenses ie. bills and then incidental costs. I put what I earn in at the top and with my fixed costs in place I am able to budget very easily, Itend to have one year on a monthly basis on per worksheet. Happy to create a template version and email it to you if that will help.

Drop me a line at almoore(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

Al

Found it

Thanks for everyone's input. What I didn't put in my original post is that I had read about some really neat automated free software but no matter how much googling I did I couldn't find where I had seen it. It's more of a spending tracker and analyzer than budgeting tool. For those who are interested:

www.wesabe.com

Data Security

I would be much more hesistant about such a web-based service. Uploading personal financial information to some unknown organisation um...!

I thought about that too

But it's gotten a lot of press lately and vetted by MSN and Wired. Wired tends to be pretty thorough and accurate. I still had to think about it. I'm trying it out. It gives me nice pretty graphs of where my funds are going. Not sure it's going to help me budget though.