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What budgeting software does everyone use?

I just spent a year using Microsoft money elements. It was very intuitive to use, basically I used to categorize and total my spending so I could download it to excel and compare month to month spending. Watching what we spent every month really open our eyes and saved us money.

I just got a message that my year is up and if I want to download my bank statements I have to rebuy it for $19.99 CAD. If you don’t rebuy you have to enter everything in manually. I must have at least 200 transactions a month so I would not want to do this.

I tried quicken before elements and found it too much to handle – maybe because it was my first with this type of software.

Before I buy elements again is there other better budget programs that you don't have to rebuy yearly?
 

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Just to clarify, I don't think you're talking about budgeting software per se, it's more personal accounting software. Budgeting is a specific function that some programs do well and others not so well, but if you're talking about tracking your income and expenses you're talking about personal accounting software.

If you don't want to be locked into having to rebuy the program every year, you could check out Moneydance -- I think they're a bit better about maintaining download capability from year to year.

Also I wanted to respond to this:

If you don’t rebuy you have to enter everything in manually. I must have at least 200 transactions a month so I would not want to do this.
I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I have a similar number of transactions per month and I find that entering them manually helps me stay on top of things better. I used to download all my transactions and found I didn't pay as much attention to my spending as I did when I switched back to doing them manually.

I use Quicken and enter everything manually, which allows me to use the same version for years without ever having to upgrade unless they happen to add some new feature that I really want. Both Quicken and Money are very mature programs at this point, so it's hard to imagine any killer new feature that would make me want to upgrade...usually the only time I upgrade is if I upgrade my operating system and my old version of Quicken doesn't work under the new OS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am not sure what the most accurate term is for the software it does track expenses and income but it also compares my expenses to a budget that I have created, so some of both.

Thanks for the insight of entering everything manually, perhaps I will try it for a month or two and see what it is like instead of assuming it is too much work. Just like you said, if I dont mind the manual entry then I would not have to renew yearly.
 

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Thanks for the insight of entering everything manually, perhaps I will try it for a month or two and see what it is like instead of assuming it is too much work. Just like you said, if I dont mind the manual entry then I would not have to renew yearly.
Actually if you end up doing manual entry you might be even better off with a simple spreadsheet. That's what I should be using, but I'm too lazy to switch (I've been using Quicken since the early 1990s) and Quicken does have a few features that make it more attractive to me and easier to use than a spreadsheet.

I typically save my receipts when shopping, put them in under a paperweight next to my computer at the end of the day, and then the next morning I enter them into Quicken. It doesn't take long and for some reason it makes me feel like I'm more in control and more aware than when I was downloading my transactions. Plus during the five or six years I was downloading transactions I occasionally had trouble connecting to the bank or there were weird bugs in the downloads that caused no end of headaches. Ultimately I decided to go back to the manual way.
 

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Gnucash

Personally I use Gnucash. It's pretty easy to use and uses double-entry bookkeeping which makes it easy to keep track of where the money goes. It's free and available for Linux and Windows if that's your taste.
 

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As far as actually budgeting, I use an awesome piece of software called YNAB (You Need A Budget) http://www.youneedabudget.com/

It does not track net worth, nor investments etc, but it is simply amazing at budgeting. It also uses a different kind of process (known as the 4 rules) to manage your money. It took me a while to get my head around it but once you do, there is simply no other way to budget.

I started using it at the end of last year and haven't looked back.
 

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I use Quicken, and I think it can download transactions automatically.

But I personally disable all the automatic features and enter everything manually for several reasons:
- I don't want sensitive security information (login/pass to financial institutions) stored on the computer/software (even though I encrypt everything).
- The software (US version) cannot handle some Canadian transactions (I imagine that I would have the exact opposite problem with a Canadian version.)
- Transactions in my bank account is pretty meaningless for my personal budgeting because most of my transactions are in cash.

I think Quicken wants you to upgrade the software every year, but I simply disable the nagging upgrade notifications. The version from two years ago still works fine.
 

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What budgeting software does everyone use?

I just spent a year using Microsoft money elements. It was very intuitive to use, basically I used to categorize and total my spending so I could download it to excel and compare month to month spending. Watching what we spent every month really open our eyes and saved us money.

I just got a message that my year is up and if I want to download my bank statements I have to rebuy it for $19.99 CAD. If you don’t rebuy you have to enter everything in manually. I must have at least 200 transactions a month so I would not want to do this.

I tried quicken before elements and found it too much to handle – maybe because it was my first with this type of software.

Before I buy elements again is there other better budget programs that you don't have to rebuy yearly?
Just as an FYI, Microsoft will discontinue selling and supporting Money in the very near future. Here is an article for your review

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10261742-56.html

There are plenty of freeware and shareware out there that are capable of doing what MS Money is doing. I personally use Excel still but I also vouch for GnuCash as well.
 

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Bump

I have been using MS Money 2006 but am growing frustrated with it ever since MS announced they are discontinuing update service.

I use National Bank for banking and Direct Brokerage (I'm actually very happy with them) but Mint.com, QuickenOnline, etc. don't seem to use them. Plus, I'm not keen on keeping my info online. I tried GnuCash and a very old version of Quicken, but didn't like them.

Are there any other alternatives for Canadians? :confused:
 

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I'm quite happy with the Canadian version of Quicken 2010 for Windows. It has an improved and simpler interface, including some nicely improved and very helpful bill reminder features.

Quicken's budgeting tool has never been its strongest point; apparently it was improved as well in the 2010 version but since I don't do a budget I haven't checked it out. Both flavours of Quicken (the cheaper Cash Manager as well as the more pricey Home and Business) have budget capabilities.

I did try using Quicken's budget tool a few years ago, and one nice feature is that it can set up a budget for you based on your past income and expenses, which is a good starting point, and then you can adjust you desired budget for individual line items from there.
 

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Maybe I'm old fashioned but I personally find the excel spreadsheet works really well. I have it setup with expenses on one side, income on the other, and one subtracts from the other to give a current total. Most of my expenses/payments come out at the same time every month, so it's a simple matter of copy-paste once you get one month setup. Then just add rows for additional expenses that come up.

By pasting 6-8 months into the future I am able to see how much money I'll have over the coming months and can use that info to make spending decisions on when to make larger ($250+) expenditures.

I realize I'm probably missing out on a lot of great features, but like the way a person organizes thousands of digital photos on the computer, I think this really comes down to personal choice.

Does anyone disagree with my approach? Why? Discuss. I'm open to that. :)
 

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Does anyone disagree with my approach? Why? Discuss. I'm open to that. :)
I think it's a great approach, especially because your method will never become obsolete and you'll never be forced to upgrade.

I would do it as well, except I'm too lazy and have gotten too used to the handy features that Quicken offers. The only really important feature you don't have access to is the ability to download transactions, but in my opinion that's not a deal-breaker. I used Quicken's online features for six or seven years but decided to go back to entering everything by hand after encountering several glitches that caused major headaches and a lot of lost time.
 

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Thanks brad, very nice of you to say!

A friend of mine always matches his ongoing tally (in a spreadsheet similar to mine) to his bank account, penny for penny. Some people do this frequently but since I'm not suffering any cashflow problems I figure that once or twice a month is enough to monitor the accounts, add in any exceptions or overspending.

Call me paranoid but I nervous about uploading this to any kind of an online service. My excel sheet is a file that sits on my desktop. No online service or 3rd party ever sees it. For my eyes only.
 

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Some banks (none that I have accounts with, unfortunately) allow you to export your data in OFX format, and some spreadsheets can import OFX files.

Apple's Numbers software, which is their answer to Excel, has a personal finance spreadsheet template that can import OFX files and save you the trouble of entering everything by hand.

Still, I think the discipline of entering all my transactions by hand and categorizing them gives me a better sense of my finances and what I'm spending than when I was downloading them through Quicken.

Excel can export files to universal formats like .csv, whereas Quicken can't do anything like that. I've spent many hours trying to import Quicken files into competing programs (Moneydance, iBank, SEEFinance, etc.) and it's a generally a disaster. A spreadsheet is probably the most sustainable tool and certainly the cheapest computer-based tool.
 

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We use excel and really like it. My husband has things linked to a second spreadsheet (tab) where it puts our savings and splits our savings up according to what we're saving for... ie it will tell us how much we have set aside for a new computer, vacation, how much we've saved towards our annual auto insurance premium, etc. It took some time to set up but I think it works really well for us.
 

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I've been using Microsoft Money for more than 8 years now. I've probably upgraded 3 versions, the last of which was only because I owned a bunch of stocks and wanted to automatically update portfolio values. These days I'm mostly in ETFs and index funds and I wouldn't find updating manually occasionally a big hassle. I use Google Docs to track the portfolio anyway.

Microsoft is promising to release a version that won't require activation. Hopefully, it can be used for a long time.
 
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