Seeking a Simple Way to Budget Money

Updated on May 12, 2009
C.C. asks from Apex, NC
18 answers

Hi all,
I'm trying to budget our money to see where all our money goes and to keep better track of written checks for bills and expenses. My friend told me to try Quicken for free on-line but my Mom is worried that it may not be secure. We also have an old version of Microsoft money 2004 but I was told to pitch it being that it's so old. I'm horrible at balancing a checkbook but if I can do it with software for dummies (like me) that would work better for me. I'm not good with numbers or budgeting but if anyone has some good advice for me I would really appreciate it!

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answers from Raleigh on

We use Money 2000 here and it works just fine. Nothing about budgeting has changed that much in the last 5 years that it won't help you keep track of the information. Then if you decide for some reason you need to upgrade later you can.

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answers from Nashville on

what about old fashioned pen and paper? Write down your income and then your outgo and see the difference. Then, write down every little thing you spend, even a $1 coffee. It helps you keep track while also making yourself responsible for purchases you don't need to make. has a great system called the envelope system. You have most of your money in cash b/c it hurts to spend designate all your money and tell it where to go. You give every single dollar a name and tell it where to go. There should not be $1 left over at the end of the month that has not been 'told what to do'. When you have an extra $100 that is not accounted for, you find a place for it. Even if it is entertainment money, clothing fund, college fund, or savings. That makes your money do what YOU want it to do. Go to Dave's website and check it out! Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

We have the newest version of Quicken that we bought at an office supply store. Same for us - we only log on when we want to get our transactions downloaded from our bank. It's very safe. BUT, if you are worried about the safety, you can still enter them manually.
And if you go through the tutorials, it is very easy to use. It does a lot of things for you. It will break your spending down into categories and spit you out nice little charts, which is a great way to see where all your money is going and help you figure out where you can cut back. You can track your bills (it gives you reminders when it's time to pay) and you can even factor in paying down credit card balances.
We really like it (obviously) and love how it helps us keep track of everything without having to pay someone to help us. Good Luck!



answers from Raleigh on

We use Quicken and it has been wonderful for us. I am horrible about keeping track of my spending, but Quicken makes it easy. We used to do an excel spreadsheet, but it was very time consuming and it didn't take long before we were looking for a better way. One of the things I really like is you can categorize everything, so you know exactly how much you're spending on groceries, eating out, entertainment, gas, etc, etc...
It also makes keeping track of child care expenses for tax purposes a real snap. Love it!



answers from Louisville on

You should look into - it is a very easy to use site that will organize all of your expenses as well as your assets.



answers from Raleigh on

i still use the Money 05 (I think). it's very simple and not really in depth, but i just wanted to see where our money was going every month. I don't use it to balance with our account at the bank. I do have to watch both of them, but the Money helps me to set a budget for each category of our spending and then see how much we have left in that category every month.

There is also programs like Crown Financial and Financial Peace University but those are more "Get out of Debt and keep it that way" programs.

There is also the "Envelope system" where you depoist your checks for the month and then you take out money for each category of spending (utilities, groceries, eating out, entertainment, gas etc) and you put the cash in the envelope and when it's gone, it's gone.

Good luck!!!!



answers from Louisville on

We love Quicken. It's secure for sure. We bought it online for $60 and downloaded it to our computer. We run it off line and keep the data on our hard drive. The only time we get on line with it is to download our bank transactions through our bank. It's fun and easy and very good for bugeting.



answers from Huntington on

Hey Corina,

I've helped a lot of people (friends & family) rework a budget and find ways to save or pay off debts. There are many different ways that work for different people. I've read a lot of books with different methods and I've sat down at a lot of kitchen tables pulling out every bill until all the money is accounted for and they are accountable for their money. If you would like to speak, I could give you a few tips on how to get started and give you a few examples of good books to pick up once I know a little bit about your situation. You can messege me for my number, I'd love to talk.



answers from Memphis on

I use the *2002* Microsoft Money, and it still works, so I'm not sure why someone told you to pitch it. Some of the features may be a little obsolete, but as a money-tracking program it still works fine.

But a simple notebook would work well, too -- you don't need a fancy-schmancy computer program! :-) I also would recommend Dave Ramsey's website and program. I've not tried the envelope system as such, but have recently started paying our food and household purchases (toilet paper, detergent, etc.) with cash, and have found that to be helpful. There is an "ouch" that happens when you hand over cash, as opposed to swiping a card -- even a debit card.

The trick is -- regardless of which method or program you use -- to write down everything! I remember when I was in my mid-teens being surprised that every week when I got paid, I would be out of money that I had earned the previous week, although I didn't remember what I had spent it on, so I decided to keep a little notebook and write down every expense. (I only had cash, which made it a lot easier, than trying to juggle cash and checking account, much less a credit card. Also, the minimum wage at the time was $3.30/hr and I only worked perhaps 5 hours a week, so it wasn't a huge amount of money either... even then.) At the end of the first week, I still had at least half of my money, if not more -- and I had never noticed that I "gave up" anything. I was more conscious about spending, even though I did not try to be. But sometimes I would forgo something like a Coke or candy bar because I didn't want to remember it and write it down when I got home... and I guess little things like that added up. If you write down every month your planned and expected expenses for the month (groceries, gas, bills, insurance, oil change, whatever) and subtract that from your income, I bet you'll be surprised at how much *should* be left over. The amount you *should* have left over, compared to how much you actually *do* have left over shows how much you (probably) waste every month. [Of course, sometimes there are unexpected bills; sometimes your estimate on how much you spend on groceries or gas may be way off.]



answers from Omaha on

Good for you for getting ahold of things! :) You can find lots of money by realizing where it has been going. If you like, reply to me and I'll send you an attachment of my personal budget sheet (it is in word). Although, I would rather it be in excell, I just don't have that program.

But, I TOTALLY RECOMEND DAVE RAMSEY, even if you just go to his website I am sure they would have stuff to download. I read one of his books and it tells you exactly how much money should be going to each budget item like 25% for housing, etc. It was a great guide. You can listen live every day of the week, even on Sat. radio and LEARN so much!

Blessins your way,



answers from Wheeling on

The only solution is to spend less than you bring home, so any budgeting plan will work (if YOU will work AT it), no matter how old it is! The software might not be up-to-date, but the plan will work. Copy some charts of the internet and keep your own records on paper.



answers from Louisville on perhaps?



answers from Greensboro on

We print off a budget worksheet from each month to do our budget. He has a great book if you are looking to get out of debt as well.



answers from Charlotte on

We use Quicken on our Mac, and my husband LOVES it, I haven't balanced a checkbook with a pen/pencil since we got married and that has been 5 years. You can make charts and graphs to see where you spend your money, and you can make transactions on line to pay your bills and set up accounts to pay monthly so you're not forgetting, it gives you reminders. It's really, really, easy! Good Luck.

A. B



answers from Nashville on

We have not done a Ramsey course but we do the cash only budget. We pull an allotted amount per week and that covers all expenses. We clip coupons and that helps me stay with my grocery list. I have also started comparing prices at various stores such as Aldi's, Kroger, and Wal-Mart then taking the time to split up my grocery list so I get better deals.
We have used Quicken before and loved the fact that we could categorize our money and see where it was going. It had a feature to enter our amount spent and put it into a category such as restaurants. At the end of the month, we could pull up a category and see how much we spent in that area. We don't use it now because we budget for a set amount of cash and our goal is to make the cash last. We set aside for savings before the cash comes out so we can splurge at the end of the week if there is cash left.



answers from Charlotte on

Hi, we use an excell page in which at the top we put the bi-weekly income. Then on the left side we list all the bills and expenses we have for those two week (whatever needs to be payed within those dates) and next to the names the amount. At the end of the amount list, we put in the formula which it could be done by clicking on the add symbol for excell and then block all the cells in the amount list. This can also be done by just adding on the calculator and the total can then be compared to the income. This gives us a VERY good sense of how much money we spend and whether there is enough for all the expenses.
A third column, next to the amount, we use to put in the amount that was already payed (not already withdrawn from the bank) and then a fourth column I mark down DONE or GONE whichever way you want to mark down :) to tell me that that amount already was taken out of the bank.
I do most of my payments online... but when I pay by check, then next to the amount I put in the check number so that when I check the bank and I see that number check, I can't get lost as to which one already was withdrawn.

I hope this helps... I am not a math driven person and my husband has been teaching me all this over the past 8 years... I don't always make it with no mistakes, but for sure it gives me a reality check and for sure keeps me from spending more that we have (as I would before looking at the numbers :)

good luck!



answers from Knoxville on

If you go to your start bar you probably have a Money/ Budgets program. Even if it is older it would still work and let you see where the money goes. My friend bought a little notebook that she kept with her. Every time she makes a purchase she writes it down, along with how she paid, cash, change, check, debit or credit card. She also writes down ATM withdrawls and purchases with cash back( 24.98 items+30.00 cash back). When she started doing this she was amazed at how much she spent on a daily basis, breakfast on the go, sodas, newspaper and magazines, lunch, snacks out of the vending machine and something for dinner on the way home. WOW! She could not believe how much. Good Luck!

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