Author Topic: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized  (Read 4589 times)

Geborgenheit

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« on: October 17, 2012, 04:10:42 AM »
First please be gentle with me as this is my second post and as you will soon realize I have been unmustachian for a number of years. I want to get sorted. Our current situation is that we have bank accounts in a couple of countries (not sure how many accounts altogether, maybe 5 or 6) also my husband has a modest but successful on-line business as a side gig to his full-time job. Right now I have no idea how much money we have or where it all is (or isn't). The first thing I want to do is get organized and have a clearer picture. 

Can you recommend a financial tool I can use which will pull all our accounts together on-line plus have ready-made categories to start figuring out a budget and see where we are spending presently? I don't want to design it myself, I want something where I can just plug in all the numbers and see it all in some nifty graphics.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 04:15:15 AM by Geborgenheit »

atelierk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Central New York
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 04:53:34 AM »
First of all, big congratulations for realizing that the first step is just finding out what you have, what you owe and where it all is. A clear picture plus ongoing tracking will automatically put the brakes on mindless spending.

To answer your question, I heartily recommend You Need a Budget (aka YNAB). It does more than Mint (I tried Mint but it didn't do enough, plus I've seen lots of complaints from users about various account tracking/downloading/category glitches) but eliminates all the useless bells and whistles that clutters up Quicken. Plus it's easier to use and costs much less than Quicken. (Mint is free.)

However, you will have to design your categories yourself - regardless of the software you use - because ready-made categories (and YNAB has some) are almost always too basic and simplistic for individual situations. Everyone's finances are different, they have different problems areas they want to focus on and no software design can anticipate that. For example, the only thing I track under 'Auto' is 'gas'. I categorize 'Auto insurance' in the budget under 'Taxes & Insurances' because all of those get paid only once or twice a year, so I keep a separate ING savings account called 'Taxes & Insurances' where I accumulate 1/12 of all those items each month. That probably isn't how most people categorize auto insurance, but it makes the most sense to me so that's what I do. You will probably have some specific things you want to track in a certain way as well.

One of the most unique aspects of YNAB is the idea that you need to be living on last month's income this month. If you're currently living paycheck to paycheck (which most people do), building a buffer of a full month's take-home eliminates this. While you don't have to use YNAB this way, I can certainly see the benefits of it especially for people whose income can vary from month to month. You always know what you have to work with instead of guessing.

I used Quicken for many years but with the latest release, I switched to YNAB and haven't looked back. It's easy, it looks good, it's accurate, and reasonably priced. There's a free trial period of a little over a month (34 days or something like that) so you can use it for a full month and see what happens when it clicks over to a new month and last month's income becomes available for budgeting.

Geborgenheit

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2012, 05:25:05 AM »
Thanks atelierk, YNAB looks very interesting. Do you know if there is a currency convertor included?

Dumb blonde

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 60
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2012, 07:26:16 AM »
I use an excelsheet for my expenses.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 09:59:42 AM by Dumb blonde »

shandee1407

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2012, 07:57:39 AM »
atelierk - does YNAB offer a Quicken upload feature?  I've had Quicken for years, but I'm looking to get my information online and wouldn't want to lose all of my data.

RadicalPersonalFinance

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 166
    • Radical Personal Finance
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2012, 08:02:34 AM »
Mint is probably the simplest "plug and play" option if you've never tracked your expenses before.  It's also free.

However, I would suggest something simpler: Put a 3x5 card in your pocket and write down every dime you spend and every dime you earn.  Then, every couple of days, input the data into a simple Excel/Google Docs/etc. spreadsheet.

Your spreadsheet only needs three columns: Date, Amount, Category.

Then, at the end of the  month, you can analyze your expenses and understand where your money came from and where it went.

This is easier than Mint/Quicken/MSMoney because all of those programs import your data automatically.  You spend a lot of time reconciling credit card payments, cash transfers, etc. and you have a ton of data to keep up with.

It's simpler to just do it yourself.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4022
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2012, 08:04:23 AM »
I don't know about YNAB having the feature, but for the older QIF file format is supported by GnuCash, as is multiple currencies.

I might also point out that GnuCash is free, quite capable once you learn the user interface, and multi-platform. Who needs to spend $50 $60 for accounting software?

http://www.gnucash.org/
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 08:05:55 AM by I.P. Daley »

gecko10x

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 420
    • SawyerPF
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2012, 08:27:34 AM »
As a point of clarification, YNAB is not accounting software (at all); it's budgeting software, and it's IMMENSELY useful.

atelierk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Central New York
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2012, 10:03:41 AM »
Thanks atelierk, YNAB looks very interesting. Do you know if there is a currency convertor included?

YNAB lets you track your spending and budgeting in everything from Albanian Lek to Zimbabwe dollars.

atelierk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Central New York
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2012, 10:08:36 AM »
atelierk - does YNAB offer a Quicken upload feature?  I've had Quicken for years, but I'm looking to get my information online and wouldn't want to lose all of my data.

Do you mean does YNAB import old records from Quicken? I don't think so. At least I haven't seen that. I tracked in Quicken through June of this year, then I bought YNAB and everything has been in YNAB since. You can export your YNAB data to an Excel file, which is what I'll do to combine the first six months (Quicken) with the last in YNAB. YNAB does have a few simple reports (net worth, income/expense) and graphs available. And you can download from your bank's website directly into YNAB using the same file format as Quicken. Hope that helps.

johnny555

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Please advise on the best software to get financially organized
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2012, 08:32:40 PM »
I, too, use YNAB.  It's helped me alot in controlling my spending and seeing where my money goes.  I also have the Android application so I can make entries on the go and help curb the impulse to waste money.