Budgeting software: You Need a Budget

When it comes to my budget, the way I typically keep track of my finances is pen and paper. It gets the job done, as long as you use it (I do) and it has suited me well for many years. A few years ago I DID try Quicken. I used it occasionally, but wasn’t married to it and found myself going back to pen and paper. I purchased it last year and… same thing. I wasn’t really impressed with it and stopped using it quickly. What a waste of money… at least for me. Since I rarely waste money, that stung a bit.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a new to me software application titled You Need a Budget and I must say that I’m really enjoying it immensely. I’m currently using the trial (I was actually offered two months for free) and I leaped at the opportunity. I like that I have so much control of how I use this software, of course I do. I keep a tight rein on my finances. You have to if you want to stay on top of things and while you can link to your bank accounts (just like Quicken) I won’t. I never was comfortable with that feature, and while I HAD used it, in the past, with Quicken. I eventually removed that capability.

I must sat the amount of people living paycheck to paycheck is a bit sobering. Sure, the economy definitely is a factor in some instances, but in others? It’s just poor decision making. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck but are continually eating out, perhaps you need to rethink your priorities. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and received a tax refund, but instead of using that money to eliminate some debt (if you have it) you decide to purchase some wants… yeah you might need to rethink your priorities. I’ve met some of these people. I must admit, there lack of taking responsibility and getting aggressive about tackling their debt does leave me puzzled. For me, paying bills as they come (I don’t have debt, just monthly bills) having an emergency fund and being able to survive for several months if something were to happen to me, makes all the sacrifices I have made worth the effort.

My parents were fabulous examples of being a good steward. I’m a Christian and God commands me to do just that. I’m passing on what I’ve learned to my daughter. So yes… she sees me make budgets and adhere to them. She also sees me write down monetary goals, setting aside money for big purchases that I can pay in full, and do what’s needed to meet them.

But back to You Need a Budget… by the way isn’t that a catchy phrase? It’s quite accurate, right? I do like the free webinars that they offer, a lot of what is said isn’t new to me, but you know what? At times, it is nice to be surrounded by others, even virtually, who totally get it when it comes to staying on top of their finances. I’ve watched several of their videos and while they don’t come out and say it, it’s very obvious that credit cards aren’t put on a pedestal to whip out and use often. You know what is? Budgeting, paying bills as they come and saving so you can get to the point where you are able to make large purchases without a credit card. I only used a credit card, briefly, in my early thirties.

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I don’t budget or do anything with our bills or accounts. Karen had to deal with all of that when I was gone on the boat in the 1970s. She did so well at it that she just kept on with it after that. I think that, in all the time we’ve been married, she’s missed paying one bill — and that was to Bonneville Power in Idaho. Somehow or another the bill had fallen behind the couch.

While, at one time, we had more credit card debt that we should have, these days we don’t have any. However, we do use a credit card for almost all of our purchases, but we pay it off, every month. The way we use it, we earn several hundred dollars in the rewards program every year which we usually take in cash for use around the holidays. When we travel, we don’t carry an excess of cash. Years ago, we used to get travelers checks, but for quite a long while now, we have used our debit card instead. We’ll do some regular grocery shopping at a Walmart and then, when we pay, we’ll use the debit card and select the option for getting some cash.

The only debt we have is for bedroom furniture that we bought a couple of years ago. The interest rate is 0% so long as we keep up with payments. We’re paying extra on it every month, since I’m working. We’ve always paid things off early. We had a 15 year long for our motorhome, but paid that off 7 years early, using earnings from my contracting job.

It’s got to be hard for some people to make ends meet these days. A lot of people have been unable to find full time jobs and have had to settle for whatever they can find in part-time work. With the high cost of housing in many places, many have had to go back home and live with their parents. Our oldest daughter and her husband are living with his mom, just down the road from us. She’s been working part time at the library on the bookmobile, but landed a full time job after the kids’ librarian got fired (drug use). [It’s not been announced yet so shhhh.]
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Certainly something I could improve
I’ve done a lot of eating from your pantry blog posts but I might start doing eating vegan for $30 per week posts too. I think it will make me more accountable
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