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Back at this AGAIN

January 24th, 2009 at 06:42 am

So I fell off the personal finance bandwagon for a bit. I've since caught up with my Quicken entries and have also established some goals for the year. I'm trying to not be too ambitious so I don't set myself up for failure.

I am still struggling with a budget. For now, I am budgeting mandatory expenses and what is left over is for discretionary spending. Not the greatest system but I cannot budget for every single line item because inevitably some unplanned, unexpected expense comes up and then I have to juggle budgeted money from one category to another. I find that having "left over" money, after mandatory expenses, is easier to manage as long as I update Quicken as we spend money and monitor my "left over" balance. I don't know how great this system will work since I just implemented it this month so we shall see.

I've automated most of my bills so that all I need to do is schedule the payments in online bill pay at my bank's website. When I open Quicken my scheduled transactions greet me and I enter those that have been paid, online or via snail mail. It's a rather simple process once I got it set-up in Quicken. I started a new Quicken file this year and so I had to start from scratch. That wasn't fun but I'm glad I did it as I think things will be cleaner now.

I have been searching for ways to cut expenses and just this evening saved $86 on our 6-month car insurance premiums. I'm excited about that and will transfer that savings to our emergency fund.

Tomorrow I hope to FINALLY sign my husband up for his 403(b) plan at work. I'm also anticipating a cost of living increase that his employer has given annually; hopefully this year that will continue. If it does, I plan on saving the difference to our emergency fund. I believe the percentage increase is either 3% or 5%, can't remember at the moment.

I have lots swirling in my mind right now and blogging about it helps clear my mind. More to come later.

4 Responses to “Back at this AGAIN”

  1. Petunia Says:

    Welcome back! I started something similar - lumping all discretionary spending into an "everything else" category. . . and it seems to be working out. It does cause me to pause everytime I want to spend money (and it causes my DH to pause as well). We started this last month, and it worked last month and so far so good for this month. Like you, I monitor the amount left in the everything else category.

  2. homebody Says:

    I started over in 2009 with a new Quicken file too. I did it January 5th or so and downloaded from my bank starting January 5th. That made it much easier. I had a daughter too who played traveling Class 1 soccer for years. I cannot tell you the amount of money we spent on that. She was recruited to play for college, but injured her foot her senior year in high school, ended up having surgery, met a boy, got married and is now at age 21 mother to my darling granddaughter and a Marine wife! So much for the thousands spent (including a new vehicle for us anticipating driving all over the state for college games)! She hopes to play again some day. Gosh writing this made me realize how stupid we were including buying the new vehicle December of her senior year in high school right before her injury! Ack didn't mean to write a book! (I live in California too!)

  3. ralph Says:

    I also like to try to get a nice visual budget tool working. The best I did was a very old Quicken version, probably in the Windows 3.1 days. I'm currently using Quickenonline and it leaves a good bit to be desired, but at least it is free now.

  4. Little L Says:

    Petunia,
    Glad to know that lumping everything into an "everything else" category works. At least I know I'm not way off base in my thinking. Having two school aged kids makes determining amounts for discretionary budget line items difficult at best because there is always something that comes up that you hadn't anticipated at the first of the month (birthdays, school events, sports stuff, etc.). I figure as long as my mandatory expenses and savings are paid first, that is what is most important.

    Homebody,
    Yes, I had about 5 years worth of Quicken in my old Quicken file. I didn't really like how I set it up and figured it was easier to start over than to try to fix the old file. I have a new laptop so my new Quicken file is on that and the old stuff is on the desktop in case I need to run a report or something. I am liking how I have it set-up now, trying to envelope budget for our savings categories, and so far it seems to be working. Class I soccer-can't wait . We won't be buying a new car lol, did that 2 years ago, but people tell us she is talented so we shall see were that takes her. She's only in 3rd grade so we have LOTS of time!!!

    Ralph,
    I have a love/hate relationship with Quicken. Been using it for years and I love that I can track every penny and run zillions of reports. What I hate is that the budgeting feature; it leaves much to be desired. I've tried using an excel spreadsheet in conjunction with Quicken but I hate having to duplicate my efforts. I figure I only want to put the info in once and that's it. The best solution I can come up with is to budget for mandatory expenses and savings and whatever is left over, just monitor and manage it until the next month.

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