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I dont really consider Budgeting (too-far) off topic, at least not to open a new post and see where it goes...

Looking at the Fool Boards related to personal Finance sections there are two other boards that I could see possibly posting this msg:
1. Fools and their Money
2. Family Fool

I have not really browsed either of these boards, might now, but havnt as of yet. Since there is not a "Digging your way out of Debt - Step 2 to Fooldom" Message Board. Hey there is an intersting Idea for a new Fool Board (Hint, Hint...)

Beleive it or not, I find bugeting the most difficult aspect of being in debt. The concepts are easy, but in practice it is next to impossible. What I have done is, with the help of Quicken, set up a budget for myself/family. I have only been using it as a guideline though, not an absolute.

Up until the end of last year I had no budget. I used the frist two months of the year as a benchmark for my budget and only tracked where I was spending money. That Quicken help immensly. I took those two months as datapoints and went from there using those as baselines.

I then extrapolated out the rest of the year months and adjusted some of the costs appropriately. For example, energy costs low in march/april/may/june and high in july/aug then picking back up in Nov/Dec as one point. Also puting in extra money for gifts around b-days/christmas as best as could be guesed. I didnt put any unplanned expenses, like the one of our car's Power steering problem that cost us 2k to fix in Jan.. GRRrrrrr...

As I said I used this as a guide to validate how much I think we could realistically afford to pay towards debt reduction. For the most part once I valaidated that aspect, the amount I could realistically assume for debt reduction, I pretty much stopped with the budget effort. Meaning I don't got out to a mall/store with the notion that I have 100.00 to spend or for that matter 100.00 I have to spend to stay in the budget.

I still track all expenses and make sure they stay in line with the baseline averages from those first two months. I check it porbably weekly or so. Quicken is Good for tracking Where the money gets spent on a month-by-month Baisis.

I do not really know if this is the right/wrong thing to use a budget in this fasion, but it seems to be working for us.

One note, I did try to use Quickens Buget tools, Found them hard to use and never tried it again, I use Quicken 6.0 (not '98 version). I just us an excel spread sheet for the buget and the catagories from quicken.

Hope this helps.

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