On the first day of the year, I sat down at my computer and began to put our family budget on the computer. I promised myself I would do that one day and when our new computer came with the necessary software on it, I could find no more excuses. I was a little intimidated but I soon got the hang of it and have come to really like keeping my budget on the computer. If you are considering using budgeting software, read on and maybe your decision will be made a bit easier. As I mentioned, my computer came with the Quicken software. It also came with Microsoft Money. I knew nothing about either one of these programs so I took some time to explore them both. After playing in each program for a while, I decided Quicken seemd a little more like what I was looking for and I liked the way it was set up. The one drawback I found was not having an instruction manual since the software came with the computer. To help with this problem, I began copying the Help Menus as I used them. This way, I could put all of them into a Quicken file and easily refer to them whenever necessary. I also found some articles on using Quicken at www.stretcher.com. You can find all of the articles if you go to the author index and look up Karen Jones. These articles gave me some great ideas for additonal ways to use the Quicken software as well as some tips that I didn’t find in the Help Menus.
Aside from being able to put numbers into the computer and have them “magically” calculated for me, I also like being able to show a transfer of money between my accounts with the click of a button. I am still figuring out all of the features available for tracking investments, but I can tell you that I am looking forward to using the internet and Quicken to instantly update my investments. However, the best part about using budgeting software is being able to create reports that show me where my money has gone and what my monthly/yearly budget looks like.
If you decide to keep your budget on your computer, I must pass on this very important advice. Back-up all of your work! I failed to do this and then had to start all over on our accounts and budget after the hard drive blew up in our computer. Although it was a lesson I learned the hard way, I’m grateful I learned it in February and not in November.