No. of Recommendations: 6
I feel pretty silly considering i've been doing this stuff for YEARS
and I still can't get a handle on it.

Don't feel too bad -- I too religiously entered stuff into Quicken for 15+ years before finding a working budget and shaping up. Entering stuff into Quicken didn't work for me as a spending regulator, because it was too easy to see all the remaining balances as "available" money. Now I never think of any money as available unless my budget says it's available in the correct category. (I still cheat once in a while, but at least I know I'm cheating and have to pay the piper...)

I was absolutely astonished just yesterday when I was in ING doing some housekeeping and noticed that the total of my savings accounts there is now over 7K. I know exactly what is in each of those accounts and what it's for, and in my mind, none of it is spendable except for its designated purpose. But I just hadn't mentally added it up and had no idea it was so much. I sweat if my checking account drops below a month's income... I, who used to think I was rolling in money as long as the balance was over $200, and routinely paid overdraft transfer fees when I got too busy to pay attention. I can have over 4K in the bank, but if my budget tells me I'm out of grocery money for the month, I'll go digging in the freezer for leftovers.

You know, this might be inconceivable to people who have lived by a working budget all their lives, but it used to be that I honestly didn't know how much money I had to last me to the next check. I had a vague ballpark idea that I needed $300 to last me after all my monthly bills were paid (I now set aside over 1K/mo for regular and irregular expenses, AFTER charity, savings, debt repayment and bills... that tells you how much I was routinely running short.) Even when I honestly tried to live by a budget, I kept tripping over the numbers. Somehow I couldn't figure out how to carry over the correct balance from month to month, or why my budget said I had money when my bank account was plainly telling me I was broke. (Yes, I really am that stupid.)

I cannot tell you the RELIEF when I finally found a tool that would tell me exactly what I had, what I needed to live on, what was left over, and that refused to let me cheat or screw up the math. For me that tool was YNAB, and that's why I sing its praises night and day, but other people have found their own way. I wish you luck finding yours!
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