Personal Finance 
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Haven’t started budgeting for the holidays? Now’s the time

If you don't start budgeting for the holidays until Black Friday, you may end up overspending.
Americans have a habit of getting buried in debt during the holidays.

In November 2011, Consumer Reports conducted a holiday spending survey and found that 14 million Americans were still paying off bills from the previous year’s holidays. That’s only about 6 percent of us, but the point is, we usually don’t start budgeting for the holidays until it’s too late, and that can lead to overspending and ultimately, debt.


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 Credit 
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Why you spend more when you use a credit card

You tend to spend more if you use a credit card than you would with cashEver feel like you go on bigger spending binges when you use a credit card than you would have with cash? You’re not the only one.

There’s a lot of research that suggests using a credit card to make purchases usually means that those purchases are bigger than what we’d make with cash. But if the math is the same, why should it matter which method of payment you use?
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 Personal Finance 
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Why You Need A Budget

Not A Good BudgetWhen I was in college, I never had a budget. I didn’t keep a budget because most of my expenses were paid for in a lump sum at the beginning of the year. My room and board were all integrated into that payment, which made for a pretty simple financial life. The extent of my purchases were at the local bar or at the grocery store when I wanted something a little more interesting than what was available in the fraternity kitchen. I had little income, little expenses, and almost no need for a budget.

That all changed when I started working. Here I was, with a real salary, real expenses, and little by way of advice on how I was supposed to track anything. Fortunately my friend sent along an Excel spreadsheet she used to and that got me on my way. I quickly learned I was spending way too much on food, specifically a mediocre lunch in the cafeteria, and was able to adjust my spending to reflect what I wanted. I learned that having a budget is absolutely crucial.

This isn’t an article on how to budget, a topic I’ve written about extensively in the past, but more about why you need to keep and maintain a budget.

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 Personal Finance 
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Better Budgeting Software: YNAB or Quicken?

I recently received an email from Reader Donald asking if I could do a direct comparison between You Need A Budget (YNAB) and Quicken. Having recently used both to write a YNAB review and a Quicken 2010 review, I was familiar with both and could easily share my thoughts.

To add a little color to the discussion, which I hope you’ll join in on, is that Donald does his taxes using TurboTax and the potentially seamless integration of Quicken and TurboTax “hobbles” him from buying YNAB. Also, he has yet to take advantage of the 7-day free trial of YNAB (no email or registration required for the trial, you can download the application here). Finally, he does all his banking with a regional credit union in California and being able to pull banking records is an important feature.

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 Personal Finance 
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PocketSmith Calendar Budgeting Tool

PocketSmith LogoThis post is a continuation of a series of reviews I’m doing for popular budgeting packages after our recent Personal Finance Hour episode on budgeting. This one covers PocketSmith, a New Zealand-based company founded by James Wigglesworth, Jason Leong, and Francois Bondiguel.

Every tool needs differentiator, a way they solve a problem that beats the competition, and it takes only a few seconds to realize what that is for PocketSmith. PocketSmith’s claim to fame, embodied by their slogan “Forecasting Made Simple,” is that they help you manage your personal finances by helping you forecast your financial future. By accurately planning and forecasting your future spending, will remove some of the mystery and anxiety and replace it with a plan you can work towards.

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 Personal Finance 
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Free Online Budgeting & Planning Software Tools

With the unceremonious shuttering of Microsoft Money a few months ago, a lot of former Microsoft Money customers are looking for alternatives. If you were using Microsoft Money Essentials, Plus Deluxe, Plus Premium, or Plus Home & Business, your software will still work but support will be gone.

Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives in the online budgeting tool chest. After a recent Personal Finance Hour show all about budgeting, I took a look at several software tools. This post will cover all of them briefly to help you decide which might be right for you (and they are not ranked in any predefined order).

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 Personal Finance 
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PearBudget Review: Really Simple Budgeting

PearBudget LogoLast night, on the 25th episode of the Personal Finance Hour, we discussed mostly about budgeting and touched on some popular budgeting tools. PearBudget is an online budget management tool, mentioned by both JD and members of the chatroom, that I had never heard of.

PearBudget’s tagline is “really simple budgeting” and it delivers on that promise. Within ten minutes, I was able to setup a budget and begin tracking expenses without even entering an email address. You can play with the full tool right from the start, without even registering. That’s uncommon in any tool, let along a budgeting one.

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 Personal Finance 
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YNAB Coupon Promotion Code

This morning I published a You Need A Budget (YNAB) review explaining the YNAB methodology as well as a look inside the tool. If you’re thinking about buying it, I recommend that you download it and do the 7-day trial first. Don’t buy it sight unseen when there’s a 7-day trial available giving you full access to the tool, so click here to download it before paying.

Then, when you’re ready to upgrade YNAB, we have a special 10% off coupon code:

bargaineering

Also, YNAB 3.0, which is slated for a November release, will cost $59.95. If you buy YNAB 2.0 for $49.95, actually $44.96 after the 10% off promotional coupon code, then you will be upgraded to YNAB 3.0 absolutely free. YNAB 3.0 not only looks more visually appealing but will sport additional features like expanded report functionality over 2.0.


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