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Author: FarscapeDVDinJAN Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308568  
Subject: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 1:08 PM
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It's pretty amazing what a person can do in 30 days.

Early in January I was feeling pretty depressed. Nothing in my life was going the way I wanted, and I felt pretty worthless. There didn't seem to be much reason for going on with life. Luckily, my husband has helped me dig out of that dark place, and I'm feeling a little better every day.

I had told my husband we were having problems with our finances, but I guess he didn't think it was a big deal. All of our bills were always paid on time, however, I frequently took advantage of our bank's overdraft protection "service". Some months this would cost me close to $100. But, our credit was still improving, so no big deal, right? Well, my husband went in to deposit a check so we would have the money in the bank to put down for earnest money on our new house. The bank teller said to him, "Sorry, but we're going to have to hold this check for 5 days because of the frequent overdraft charges on your account."

He wasn't happy about that, but I think it made him realize how much help I needed. We sat down together, and went over the bills. He put an extra $450 in the account as a cushion, and helped me make up a spreadsheet to track all of our spending. Before, I just relied on the bank's website to see what our account balance was. Look! I have $1000 in the bank! Let's go to Target! Then, two days later, a check would clear the bank that I'd forgotten about, and we'd be overdrawn again.

It seems silly that this obvious step would be so hard, but, it was really amazing. I put in all the checks I've written, all the debit card charges, and all the upcoming bank drafts I've authorized. Now, I can see in advance if we're going to have a shortage, and compensate for it. I also know how much is "really" in the bank account. Also, since my paycheck is direct deposited, my husband has started giving me a spending allowance, so I don't use the checking account for my spending money. It sounds silly to have an allowance again, but it does feel good to have money in my pocket that I know I can spend without affecting the budget.

So, it has been just over 30 days since the last overdraft on our account. And, the effect seems to snowball. We just bought a new washer and dryer. And we paid cash for it. Cash! Like 1200 dollars cash! And we saved it! My house is slowly becoming cleaner and more organized. I find that just by taking baby steps with everything, everything is getting done. 30 days ago, trying to do it all, was really horrible. I would fail at something, and then feel that if I couldn't do one simple thing (like balance our bank account), then I wasn't good enough to do anything. Now, I get into the habit of doing one thing, then add another. First, it was my finances, then, doing the dishes EVERY night, as opposed to every couple days. Then, folding all the laundry as soon as it is dry. Then, sweeping and wiping down the kitchen counters every night before bed.

It seems I really should have learned all this stuff 10 years ago, and not just be figuring it all out now. It all seems so basic, but to finally have this control in my life is amazing, and I thought I'd share.
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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197921 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 1:18 PM
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Congrats on your new Foolish wisdom. You should discuss it with DH, but the next best thing to tracking spending in a spreadsheet is to use a personal finance program like Quicken or MS Money where you can (depending on the bank) have your transactions automatically downloaded each day to reconcile with your own records.

Fuskie
Who hates waiting until the end of the month to find out how much he has at that moment...

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Author: FarscapeDVDinJAN Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197925 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 1:54 PM
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I've tried setting up both quicken and MS Money, but I've found the way their bank account tracking is set up just doesn't work for me. PLus, that would only track the current balance, and not checks that haven't cleared the bank yet, or money allocated for upcoming bills.

I do like the MS Money for loan tracking, but not for day to day budgeting.

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Author: SouperStarAlison Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197929 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 2:36 PM
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You should discuss it with DH, but the next best thing to tracking spending in a spreadsheet is to use a personal finance program like Quicken or MS Money where you can (depending on the bank) have your transactions automatically downloaded each day to reconcile with your own records.


Another thing that I like Quicken for is that I have all of my bills set up as reminders and I tend to enter things in advance. Example: March is a 3-paycheck month, so I entered the 3 paychecks (will be a bit more as i'm getting a tiny bit of overtime) and all of my bills, so I could then figure out what would be left of the 3rd check for the CCs.) It really helps me see in advance just how poor I'll be, and keeps me from overspending.

Soup

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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197934 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 3:04 PM
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I've tried setting up both quicken and MS Money, but I've found the way their bank account tracking is set up just doesn't work for me. PLus, that would only track the current balance, and not checks that haven't cleared the bank yet, or money allocated for upcoming bills.

Not sure I understand. I write a check, I enter it into Quicken. Each night after dinner I download the previous day's cleared transactions. I have an on-line balance (what the bank says I have) and my Quicken balance (with the transactions that have not yet cleared) so I can forecast how much money I will have in the account if my payments clear immediately.

Fuskie
Who also downloads some of his credit card transactions as well...

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Author: M1chaelJ One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197939 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 3:18 PM
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I use Money, and I like the bills/deposits tracker. Makes sure that I've paid all the bills on time, is a backup in case a statement arrives late/not at all, especially for tracking non-monthly expenses, (yearly, twice yearly, etc). Also easily tracks my fully automatic transactions (bi-weekly ING withdraws). And since it can quickly tell you how much you've spent this month on whatever ($50 on movies already?) it acts as a catch to make sure I stay within my budget.

Michael

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Author: CrazyWife One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197944 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 3:34 PM
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My house is slowly becoming cleaner and more organized. I find that just by taking baby steps with everything, everything is getting done. 30 days ago, trying to do it all, was really horrible. I would fail at something, and then feel that if I couldn't do one simple thing (like balance our bank account), then I wasn't good enough to do anything. Now, I get into the habit of doing one thing, then add another. First, it was my finances, then, doing the dishes EVERY night, as opposed to every couple days. Then, folding all the laundry as soon as it is dry. Then, sweeping and wiping down the kitchen counters every night before bed.


Amen sister!! I have noticing the same exact thing in my life, that everything is just becoming better because I am now putting in the effort. You go girl!

Jenny

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Author: Diablo2Queen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197954 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 4:02 PM
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I've tried setting up both quicken and MS Money, but I've found the way their bank account tracking is set up just doesn't work for me. PLus, that would only track the current balance, and not checks that haven't cleared the bank yet, or money allocated for upcoming bills.


I use Quicken, but I don't have it download any info from the bank. I enter all my info manually and I can entered scheduled bills (like the mortgage) early.



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Author: Lurker1999 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 197974 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 6:41 PM
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Congrats on your steps. I like and utilize Money extensively. There are two ways of entering future payments (i.e. automatic credit card payments, recurrent utility bills, etc.) in Money. One is to simply enter a new transaction and post-date it in your checking account ledger. I used to do that quite a bit but it does not allow you to at a glance see the real balance of the account from the "Account Summary" sheet. i.e. if you have a bunch of debits but the intermediate deposits have not been recorded you may have a net negative balance listed for the account when the math does work.

The other way you can do this is to enter the transaction as a bill in the Bills & Deposits section. When you enter it, date it and select "Automatically enter transaction into my register the following number of days before the payment date:" I do this with my paycheck which is automatically deposited and with Netflix which is automatically charged to my credit card each month.

Now to see your cash flow click on "Cash Flow" at the top of the screen and select the appropriate account. I do NOT use trends as I record everything and the trends thing throws off my accounts by quite a bit.

Hope this helps.

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Author: sissylue Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198004 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/22/2005 11:31 PM
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Before, I just relied on the bank's website to see what our account balance was. Look! I have $1000 in the bank! Let's go to Target! Then, two days later, a check would clear the bank that I'd forgotten about, and we'd be overdrawn again.

I managed to get a really good handle on my money flow/bank account by moving completely away from paper check writing and from using credit cards. The checks that still get written are for things like utilities, taxes etc - payments that get mailed. But I dont write out a check - I go online and tell the bank to cut a check for a specific payee. The bank then prints off a check in the amount I specify and mails it off to the payee at the address I've entered and then immediately shows what my "real balance" is. (When I say immediately I mean by the next banking day) The other thing I use is a Debit/Visa card. So when I shop in town instead of writing a check I use the debit card. Again the debit is automatically reflected when I check my account online. The Visa part of the card isn't really a credit card - but I can use it like a credit card which I need when I buy things online or from a catalog and again the amount spent is immediately deducted from my account which I can easily see by going online. Aside from never having a nasty surprise again at the end of the month there is the added bonus of never having to pay for paper checks again. And I also like using the debit/Visa card better than cash because then I have a complete record of exactly what I've spent my money on in the form of my bank statement without the hassle of saving receipts or entering info on a spreadsheet. I do have Quickbooks but don't use it much anymore having found that doing things this way eliminates the need for additional money tracking.

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Author: hk2 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198055 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 12:01 PM
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Well, my husband went in to deposit a check so we would have the money in the bank to put down for earnest money on our new house....

He wasn't happy about that, but I think it made him realize how much help I needed. We sat down together, and went over the bills. He put an extra $450 in the account as a cushion,


Where is he getting this money and why isn't it all going into the bank to begin with?



Jim

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Author: FarscapeDVDinJAN Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198057 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 12:03 PM
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Where is he getting this money and why isn't it all going into the bank to begin with?

Umm... from work, and because the bank is for the bills money?

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Author: hk2 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198061 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 1:22 PM
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Umm... from work, and because the bank is for the bills money?

Then I guess we operate differently. My entire paychecks have always gone into the bank except for cash I needed for immediate use.

I get the impression that you keep your paychecks in cash and just deposit enough to cover bills.

Jim

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Author: Jeanwa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198064 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 1:31 PM
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Then I guess we operate differently. My entire paychecks have always gone into the bank except for cash I needed for immediate use.

I get the impression that you keep your paychecks in cash and just deposit enough to cover bills.

Jim


Hey, Jim....at our house we have his/ours and hers. DH is (or rather was) a spendthrift! I was saving up some money for something...he saw the balance in the check book...the next thing I knew there was a new motorcycle in the garage. Opened my own checking account. I put my share of the bills (50/50) into the joint account. He still uses the joint account, since he won't balance one of his own.

It ends up working for us. I have to raise the amount I put in from time to time as the Joint purchases vary.

So I "assumed" the money went from one account into another.

Jean


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Author: hk2 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198070 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 2:29 PM
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I put my share of the bills (50/50) into the joint account.

Hi Jean,
My wife has been bugging me to do this. But for the opposite reason. She figures this way she'll have more money to spend without having to answer to the budget monster.

I'm resistant to the idea because it seems a financial relationship that develops between roommates. My preference is put the money into a joint account and transfer his & her allowances to individual accounts. Just seems cleaner that way.

At least the budget monster will have us debt free (mortgage excepted) in the next 45 days.

How's the new house?

Jim

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Author: Jeanwa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198072 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 2:42 PM
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How's the new house? It's a roof over our heads....doesn't have the character our old one did, tho'. It is less drafty!!!!

I'm resistant to the idea because it seems a financial relationship that develops between roommates. My preference is put the money into a joint account and transfer his & her allowances to individual accounts. Just seems cleaner that way.

That would work. It wouldn't have worked for us. DH has no concept of money. At the time he wouldn't believe I made more than him, since I didn't work, even tho' I showed him the numbers. (rent income). Oh, yeah, some of the furniture and stuff comes from my account...since he could care less if it changed. The new TV did come from the joint account, since he wanted it, too.

The important thing is working an arrangement that works for the individuals involved.

For us it was "If he can't see it, he can't spend it." I know it sounds silly, but it's helped hold us together for almost 30 years.

Jean




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Author: BklynBorn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 198114 of 308568
Subject: Re: 30 Days (long) Date: 2/23/2005 9:22 PM
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Hi Farscape,

Thanks so much for sharing your story. Just what I needed to hear about now. To set up a relatively small goal (no overdraft... buy something in cash) and then celebrate it.

Do I hear FLYlady in there?? Sounds a lot like her approach. FLYlady.net

Best,
bb

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