When I initially set out to create a budget, I simply used a spreadsheet and several months worth of bills, credit card statements, and our checkbook register. Once I figured out where all of our money was going every month (and where some of it should be going instead) I made the jump to using the You Need A Budget software program, YNAB Pro. The software is similar to Quicken, which I’ve used in the past, but it is, obviously, geared more towards budgeting instead of account/investment tracking.

I find the program very useful for quick and thorough expense tracking using the register to enter transactions for multiple accounts, assigning a budget category to each (or multiple categories with the split transaction capabilities) and having it automatically update my budget. I’ve only been using the software less a month but I like it a lot.

The Pro software was $49.95 but I received 10% ($4.99) of using a coupon code from the YNAB website found through a Google search. I’ll discuss the YNAB software more after I’ve used it a little more.

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Having set up a budget for the first time in January, it is quite clear that we have a long way to go with respect t0 reining in our expenses and living within our means. With some lingering expenses carrying over from last year (an ongoing home improvement project and getting started on our daughter’s “big girl room”) this first month didn’t work out as well as it could have. We spent quite a bit of time gathering information, estimating our monthly expenses, and setting up goals for both spending and savings. At the end of the month, we did fairly well at keeping our spending close to or within budget on items such as groceries and gas, but we weren’t able to meet any of our savings goals. Overall the process of getting on a budget has been useful in helping us start to track our spending and plan our finances, but we will have to make some serious changes if we are to meet all of our spending and savings goals each month.

Setting Up a Budget

January 15, 2009

The past couple of weeks I’ve been organizing my finances and trying to set up a budget for the first time. It has been a very difficult and time consuming process which has really opened my eyes to just how irresponsible I’ve been with my finances my entire adult life.

In addition to setting up a budget, I’ve been setting up a debt snowball to eliminate my cred it card debt. Lastly, I’ve been getting a jump on preparing my taxes. I have already begun the process of transferring balances to lower interest rate cards and trying to minimize my credit card usage to get things under control. I’llĀ  have everything worked out and a solid plan in place by next week.

This process has been just as depressing and overwhelming as it has been empowering.