New hacks for the new year

Some new hacks for the new year:

The first one is to Bill-pay online with your bank. But find a bank does this for free.

The second one is get financial planning page to keep track of financial spending and goals. Seeing it in black and white really makes a difference.

Also, if you are a freelance writer, write out your income goals for each month and year.

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I joined my bank's online services this January and am finally starting to get use to it. I keep my own records, but they're pretty general and it's not unusual that I'm out of synch by 40-100$ at months end. So I know my record keeping is not up to snuff.

What software do folks use to track their finances. I've already looked at pocket mod and the Financial Life organizer (Filo). I do keep all receipts and I use a computer to track numbers because I'm really good at forgetting to update things (even though I regularly carry a planner), and I want to see how well (or poorly) I'm doing throughout the year.

I'm on Windows and have Office - so I can use Excell; but advice in regards to templates would be nice.

FInance Software


Personally, I use a pay-for software--MS Money. I was a Quicken user for a long time, but their monkey business with file formats made me switch. Money is still compatible with the format I can download from my bank.

Having said that, I don't really *like* either Quicken or Money. They're too sales-centered. They're both so tied to the browser now you can't tell when you're local and when you're out on the net broadcasting your data.

I'm considering actually quitting the whole reconciliation thing. I'm about 8 months behind entering my receipts and I'm not getting a lot of bang for that effort buck. The only thing we use the software's reporting for is the year end tax forms--how much did we spend on X or Y. But honestly, most of the documentation for taxes is mailed to us from the various banks, employers, etc. and stuff like charitable donations is always fudgy anyway. Home office data comes directly from the bills, and business purchases go right on the business credit card so it comes out of different accounts anyway. I find I'm less interested in seeing how the categories break down, even though money is tighter than it was pre-kids.

*sigh* Balancing the checkbook is one of those things you *ought* to do. And I have found errors in the past--bank fees that shouldn't have been there. But the time to maintain versus the payoff is not a happy ratio. Especially when I get behind like I am now. :p


checkbook balancing - start over!

Best advice I've heard for balancing the checkbook: just start with your last bank statement - or next bank statement if you don't have the last one. It is early enough in the year, if you have your January bank statement, you could just start with Jan 1 and go...

If things get REALLY messed up, just open a new checking account and start from scratch. WARNING: don't close your old account until you're sure all the old checks and charges cleared.



I highly recommend Moneydance. I've been using it pretty steady the last year and a half, and used it for about 6 months previously. Since using it, I've tried other programs and keep coming back to MD. It is like all the features I actually use in Quicken, with the extra junk taken out. It is $29.95 and has a free trial version available. The trial has all features enabled, but then won't let you enter any more transactions after a certain amount, I believe it is 100.

Upgrades are $14.95, but the developers usually offer them for free for people who have purchased recent versions. Releases are yearly, but the latest version - Moneydance 2007 - was a free upgrade for anyone who purchased the program after Jan 1, 2004.

It is a Java application that works with Windows, Mac or Linux and in theory any OS that can run GUI Java programs. Support is via forums on the site and also a Yahoo group, and the developers frequently answer questions in both places - although more frequently on the Yahoo group later. Check out

I balance my checkbook and also print out a monthly report of my net worth so I can watch it go up as my debt goes down!


PS: Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Moneydance in any way besides being a happy user.