Saturday, December 2

I Think I'm Falling In Love

Over the years, Hero Guy and I have 'shared' responsibility in keeping our financial books in order--he likes to be the one officially in charge, but the fact that his work schedule is very unreliable and I have an irresistible urge for controlling things, we volley back and forth for the responsibility depending on what's going on in our lives. The problem is that when 2 people each think the other is doing the job, it rarely gets done well.

Thus, I recently volunteered for the task of coordinating Financial Peace University for our church (only because coordinating involves pushing the "Play" button on the DVD player) so I have been doing most of the entering, tracking and analyzing of our spending so I feel a bit more put together when the class begins on January 10. I volunteered for this job because I really see finances as being a huge stress in many of the married couples I know, and I could really use some organization help and motivation in this area as well.

In prep of the upcoming class, I've been very conscientious over the last 3 months to carefully track our spending. Over the past 17.5 years together, we've used a variety of systems to do this. I prefer the hands-on, non-practical method of using paper envelopes. I like to look inside, see how much money I have to spend and when the envelop is empty, I know I can't spend anymore. It's pretty easy to figure why that method is a bit cumbersome, getting the bills in the correct denominations for each envelope, having the cash with you at all times, etc.

Hero Guy prefers a computer program like Quicken. It's is basically a ledger style computing system which tracks your budget as you enter transactions. I don't like this program because I can't tell when I've overspent in a category without running a report and when I'm running to Walmart, I'm not inclined to report anything until I'm good and ready.

I also tried for a while to use a very inexpensive (approx $30) shareware type of program called "Budget" which is a virtual envelope system that shows a series of labeled envelopes on your computer screen and you move money in and out of them as you spend or deposit. I did like this program because I could open it, look right in each envelope and tell if I was going to have to "borrow" from another category in order to buy what I wanted, but it was a bit unsophisticated in it's ability to provide enough analysis for Hero Guy's liking. The advantage to this system is you are allowed to download and try it for 200 transactions (which lasted me about a month) before you buy it.

Enter my new love, Mvelopes. Now I am saying this prematurely as I just downloaded my 30-day free trial last night. But after spending about half an hour setting it all up, I think I'm in love. I had heard about this product developed by Crown Financial Ministries before, but had never looked at it. It combines the perfect mix of ledger-style Quicken and virtual envelopes so you can easily see how much you have spent in each category of your spending plan. The best part???? It "calls" your bank account and automatically enters every transaction that passes through your account. Now I only set it up to track my checking account. You can track everything--savings, credit cards, etc., but I need to start slow. I get a 30-day trial and then I have to make the big decision. This is the biggest disadvantage of this program - there is a monthly service fee (depending on the plan you choose, it's as low as $10 per month). The biggest benefit over other budgeting software is that it tracks your money before you spend it, rather than after the fact as all the other popular software does. Another perk is that you get free online chat help with support staff so as I try it out this month, I may decide that it's a good investment since balancing my checkbook is a task I truly hate, and Hero Guy just doesn't have the time to be consistent. OK, OK, I admit there is a bit of pleasure that comes with being the boss of the 'books'. But still, it's a big pain in my neck.

5 of Your THINKS:

Janette said...

I'm so glad you shared this - W. and I do the same thing. I've been looking at various ways to cut down some of our wasteful spending habits, so I'm going to give the Mvelopes program a try and I'll let you know what happens.

Mary Ellen said...

Rick loves Quicken and I love to let him. :-) Him being a financial guru with CPA, accounting, financial advising skills I'm completely irresponsible..I mean not responsible...for keeping track of the money - hee hee.

We've been talking about a way for me to know where the $$ goes without having to learn Quicken, might have to check this one out.

Anonymous said...

That Mvelopes sounds really cool and such a great financial tool!

Bobby's hooked on Microsoft Money and does a great job when it comes to all that jazz.

Panda-Mom said...

Thanks for the tip about the DeSolveIT and the Mvelopes site. We are going to check it out. BTW: I hope you have the BEST time NYC. I REALLY want to visit there someday! Enjoy that huge ice rink and the big ole Christmas Tree. Maybe you can stand in line for three hours and get a frozen hot cocoa from Serendipity's just like the movie! ; )

Barb said...

My daughter and her fiance are taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course at Fellowship Church right now. They only have a bout 3 weeks left. His mother gave this to them as an engagement gift. I can't think of a single smarter thing for them to do.

They did mention that the instructor pretty much just runs the DVD player. LOL