Networth Range: $110k-$115k
Profession/title: Warranty Administrator
Websites: It’s Your Money! , Debtspiration
Current Financial Strategy: Saving to complete our emergency fund.
Best Financial Tip:
The control you gain over money today is directly proportional to the freedom your money gives you tomorrow.
Worst Financial Move Ever:
In my 20s – not paying enough attention to where my money was going. Also, I didn’t hop on the “get out of debt” train nearly soon enough. Neither of these were catastrophic disasters, but they set me back significantly. Oh – and I should’ve started up my website and blog a lot sooner, too.
Financially, I need help with:
Becoming a less conservative investor (for my age)
What personal finance tools do you currently use to track and manage your money?
Right now, Quicken 2006 Premier Home & Business handles the bulk of it. I access almost all of my accounts online, obviously, like everyone else. For everything else (monthly spending plans, tracking my Freedom Account, and various small-business things) I build and use a variety of Excel spreadsheets. I’m also becoming a big fan of Jesse Mecham’s You Need a Budget Pro; it might entirely supplant a few of my monthly spreadsheets here pretty soon. I use ExcelGeek’s Freedom Account spreadsheet to manage my Freedom Account, and it’s fabulous for this.
What are the problems in your personal finance tools?
I adore Quicken and all it can do – with the exception of its budgeting features. That part of Quicken is a disaster. Plus it isn’t set up to handle the Freedom Account concept very well at all. I’ve been a Quicken devotee since the mid 1990s, but if you’re someone who’s new to Quicken, you have a tough road to travel to get up-to-speed with its current versions. Feature bloat has made the program pretty daunting to newcomers, in my opinion.
How would your ideal personal finance tool work?
It would show all my bank, credit, and loan account balances in one place, at one time. It would handle my transactions in the same clean check-register style we’re all so familiar with. It’d allow me to categorize my transactions and see what I’m spending my money on, see where it’s going. It would remember my categories and allow me to create subcategories, sub-subcategories, and so on.It would learn my regular, recurring bills, and show me these items a month at a time. It’d show me which bills I’ve already paid this month, and which ones I haven’t. All this stuff Quicken does easily already … but what it doesn’t do is allow me to easily set up a flexible, zero-based budget that I can easily modify as the month rolls on. Also, my ideal software would allow me to set up subaccounts inside of other accounts, which is essentially the basis of the Freedom Account concept I mentioned above. (You have savings account XYZ, and inside of that are subaccounts for specific items like life insurance, property taxes, car insurance, Christmas, and other expenses that don’t happen on a strict monthly basis – but you save up for them on a monthly basis so that the money’s there when you need it.)
What more do you want to know about your personal finances?
I’m not sure that there’s much more that I want to know – at least not that Quicken doesn’t already tell me. I know where my net worth is at any given time. I know where my money’s going, and what bills are left to be paid in the month, and when they’re due. I feel pretty comfortable in this area, actually.
How much do you think you currently spend on eating out?
Over the last three months, my household (myself, my wife, and our 4yo daughter) has spent an average of $212 per month dining out. For comparison, we’ve averaged $391 per month on grocery spending (that’s food only, not including dining out or household consumables).
How often do you want to know about your personal finances?
Twice a week is a pretty good number for me. Usually, though, I’ll check in more often, just to reassure myself that I’ve got the bills handled and all my website income logged correctly.