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Your Take: Do You Use Money Management Software?

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Pen & Paper is Money Management Too!When I started working five years ago, I tracked my spending down to the penny. I wrote about my “Budget Bible” before when talking about financial leaks. I felt that tracking my spending down to the penny was a great way for me to identify the areas I was spending and gave me an opportunity to review those areas. I didn’t realize it but that Excel spreadsheet was my first foray into money management software!

Back in 2003, there weren’t many personal finance tools out there. The tools that did exist were young and untested. Nowadays, there are plenty of personal finance tools available to help you manage your money! You have the beautiful, feature-rich, venture-backed Mint.com, you have the big branded cash flow focused Quicken Online, and you have the relative gray beard of the bunch, Yodlee, all at your disposal.

Of the three, I’ve played with Mint.com and Quicken Online and use them sparingly. My question for you, on this fine Friday, is – Do you use money management software? Either online or offline? If so, which one? If not, why not?

As for this week’s bribe, I have a copy of Quicken Premier 2009 to give away to one lucky commenter. You don’t have to say you use Quicken or that you’ll try Quicken Online, you just need to leave a comment and share which software you use or if you don’t use any at all! Contest closes in one week, February 27th, and it’s void where prohibited. Good luck!

(Photo: paulworthington)

{ 144 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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144 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Use Money Management Software?”

  1. Eric N. says:

    I do use an online account aggregator and I really don’t think I can live without it! I’m so used to logging into one place to see all of my balances, bills, and transaction that I can’t even fathom having to do it individually. It’s convenient and trustworthy enough for me to be willing to put sensitive info like this in one place.

  2. I use Google Docs, the spreadsheet function. This way I can share it with my wife, and she can log in and see what’s passed and what hasn’t. We have fairly simple finances, and this works well for us.

    My spreadsheet is based on CNN’s Money Calculator (http://www.cnbc.com/id/26641187/), using those categories but my own amounts. Works rather well for us.

  3. RCee says:

    I’ve been using Mvelopes for 3 years with great success. I pay bills electronically but I never let the companies automatically deduct it, I always push the money to them. Reading a Dave Ramsey book helped too. I used Quicken for years but it was always an end of month picture. I prefer the day by day tracking I get with the online aggregator.

  4. jsh says:

    I’ve used Quicken for about 12 years. I like it, but like others I get frustrated with the mandatory updates. The latest version is not always better (although I’m willing to try the 2009 version :-)

  5. Gregg says:

    I use QuickBooks, I used it for work when working with businesses and liked it so much I started using it for all my personal finances and businesses. Ive wanted to try to Quicken, but Im just so used to QuickBooks.

  6. I actually use Mint.com. The web application is amazing and the developed has not slowed a bit since the launch. They are introducing new features each and every day. I wrote an article about Mint.com on my blog and actually had to update it the next day because I received an email from Mint.com about some new features they added. Amazing and so easy to use!

  7. JC says:

    I’ve dabbled in most of them, including Wesabe, but always default to my own Excel spreadsheet. It’s easy, fits my needs perfectly (it should – I made it), shows me any charts I want, and I don’t have to learn yet another piece of software. Having said that should take me out of the running to win the contest!

    As far as financial advice, I’ve read several of David Bach’s books, some books by the much-maligned Suze Orman, and have listened to Dave Ramsey. Their advice seems sound and genuine. The bottom line is obvious: Be financially responsible!

  8. Greg says:

    I have use Quicken for many years. I love the online update from Fidelity and credit cards and such. Currently using version 2007 so the upgrade would be sweet.

  9. frugalCPA says:

    I don’t currently use any money software. Just Excel. Should I?

  10. skylog says:

    ms money deluxe and business 2003. it works for me and after trying newer versions, i have gone back to this one b/c it has an option that i can’t seem to kick……..white text on black screen interface…yep

  11. KG says:

    I have been using MVelopes and absolutely love it. It not only forces me to come up with a budget, it makes me stick to it. I suppose you could do it with actual envelopes too.

  12. Junie says:

    I once downloaded my bank statement into quicken and used it for the short period i have a free quicken trial. I would love to have the full version of quicken to keep my finances in order. Thank you!

  13. Tom says:

    I use Microsoft Money 2005 – got it free with my last laptop purchase.
    Don’t see any reason to upgrade to the latest version right now.
    Used to use Quicken but I thought it was getting too expensive and you had to pay extra for downloading bank transactions after a certain period of time.

  14. Jessica says:

    Have used MINT in the past. It became just one more thing to manage.

    In general, I use Excel to track debt and fixed expenses. Use my bank’s online account spending report feature to track overall spending.

  15. Brad says:

    I have used Quicken in the past and will likely try it again in the future, but it takes some discipline to get it setup and running, and then to keep it going!

    I would love to win this copy. :)

    Brad

  16. thomas says:

    I currently use Mint and love it. Very easy set up, the cost is right, and the budgeting is very cool. I also like that there are very little to no ads. Can’t beat that!

  17. Samir says:

    Started with Quicken, moved to msn money then to yodlee, eventually settled on google docs(spreadsheet) to track my expenses and reconcile my statements. Why should i pay to MS or Quicken at the end of every 3 years. Hate been held by throat(homer effect) by this money sipping quicken and ms money.

  18. Dennis says:

    I use Quicken 2006 and have always found it very useful to track my expenses and bank accounts including CD’s. Having been recently laid off from my job of 20 years on December 15, 2008, I now find the budget part of Quicken to be very helpful. I was disappointed to see that starting April 30th Quicken would no longer provide online services and support for the 2006 version. Now is not the time to spend money on a newer version but would be a great time to win a new copy. Keep up the good work, I love reading the site each and every day now that I have plenty of time on my hands.

  19. jessica says:

    Jim,
    In December I started using Mint.com to track our money and for the first time develop a real budget for our household. The result. Reduced household expenditures in HALF! What a shocker! I had no idea there were so many opportunities for savings in our family’s budget (we aren’t a family of big spenders either, it was just making little adjustments here and there).

    all the best,
    Jessica

  20. Yana says:

    That money calculator is interesting. It said the allotments for housing, transportation, debt, food, household, savings and everything else should be (percentages) 30, 18, 10, 14, 7, 10 and 11. I found ours to be 39.5, 10, 0 debt, 14 for food and 8.4 household/utilities. When I say food, I mean food, not toilet paper, soap, etc. That is the only one we were right on target with their estimates. Our utilities were higher, but the truth is that our costs are much lower than average in that category. Ten percent was suggested for savings. We used to save about 40% before my husband’s hours were cut; obviously much less now – but even now, I think we save at least 10. We don’t have a high income at all, but do make excellent use of what we have.

  21. Ethan says:

    I don’t use any money management software yet (hint, hint). Recently, I’ve really wanted to have a better understanding of where my wife and I are spending money, i.e. how much we spend on movie, dinner, clothes, etc. Because then it’s a lot easier to say, let’s cut back here and save more.

  22. amy says:

    I’m a big fan of You Need A Budget software.
    I’ve been using it for almost 3 years now and
    I wouldn’t be without it. It has some great
    features and a philosophy all it’s own. Zero
    balanced budgets, and spending plans based on
    last month’s income.

  23. Brian says:

    I use Excel, customized to my specific needs. I also DON’T track my spending down to the penny. Instead I use a top down approach, based on our savings goals & not taking on debt.

    At the beginning of the year, we determine the core fixed monthly bills (mortgage, insurance, emergency funds, utils, etc.) and the minimum needed for food, basic household items, & gas. Any discretionary spending is left out. The difference between monthly income and these core bills is the maximum savings amount. We then reduce this amount to cover all discretionary items, with the remainder meeting the savings goal. This savings amount then becomes an automatic monthly payment, paid to a brokerage account. The discretionary amount (along with minimum for food, etc.) is then transferred to a separate checking account, which is used for all purchases (no credit cards). Once this money runs out, no more spending for the month. The recurring bills are automated to pay monthly from the primary account. If income varies monthly, the spending account transfer is reduced/increased as necessary. If the monthly income is highly variable, or an unexpected expense occurs, so there is not enough income to meet the core bills, money is transferred in from the emergency account (or creditline), and the amount transferred to the spending account is reduced. This stops most overspending, meets savings goals, and obviates much of the details of tracking every purchase.

  24. Sada says:

    I am still using the 2005 version of Quicken to track the balances in all my Savings and Checking accounts. I use Yodlee to check on all my Credit card balances in one go. As for budgeting, I use a simple spreadsheet and enter everything in to the last dollar.

  25. Mary says:

    I’ve used Quicken for more than ten years. It has made balancing my check book so much easier. I used to spend hours trying to find the math error. I stopped upgrading it in 2002 because every year the upgrades did something I didn’t like (e.g. saving the amount and the budget item for a WalMart purchase and automatically pasting it into a subsequent transaction – like it would be exactly the same every time).


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