March 20, 2009

money-pig

It’s no secret that finances are tough stuff for the majority of people right now.  While I will agree that negative returns are no fun, the joy of financial management is in the day-to-day planning, goal-setting and tracking.  This has been on my mind a lot as I focused on merging our finances this week.  As late 20-somethings, we both had a variety of accounts floating in different places out there.  Since Nick is in language classes all day, I nominated myself as financial manager of the family (although he can still dabble in the investments if he wants).  I rolled IRA’s, made transfers and changed permissions – all in an effort to hold the majority of our accounts within one banking institution.

It was such a glorious time.  I’ve always known that I was obsessed with stat tracking, especially with things like money.  It’s so exhilarating to set a goal and then monitor your progress towards it.  My favorite tool to do this in the past was typically with an excel spreadsheet.  No more though.  I have evolved to Quicken!  What a delightful, FREE program!  By creating an account at THIS SITE, one is able to link all of their online banking accounts.  It pulls in each transaction, which you can then categorize as auto, groceries, medical, etc.  On the trends page, it rolls up the aggregate amounts in each of those categories so you can see what proportion of your monthly spending is going to each category.  But WAIT, this is my favorite part!  You go to the goals page as set up a spending goal for each of the categories and then track it throughout the month to see where you are in relation to what you allocated for that goal (like Dining, for example).  It’s so simple and so much less time-consuming than excel.  If you aren’t currently using a financial managment system of any kind, I beg you to take a close look at this program to see if it can work for you.   I can’t express the pure joy it brings me to log in to one account and immediately know what your net worth is for that moment in time.  SO COOL!  If you’ve never calculated your net worth, it’s not as hard as you think, it’s just a matter of gathering up the information from all the places out there.

In fact, I became so overjoyed with Quicken that I was having a hard time getting off the computer so Nick could use it too.  We ended up having to make a deal that he wouldn’t play the Wii for the rest of my visit if I promised not to log in to Quicken.  How sad is that??

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