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Keeping Afloat with a Budget

Week 3. In search of a life-saver. Comparing personal finance software.

Rhonda Robinson


July 13, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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Walking into this guy’s office, I just knew I owed him money.

The floor was bare concrete. He stood behind a large, old metal desk. A sinking feeling of guilt mingled with dread dropped into my chest. A bit apprehensive, I approached him pretending I could pay it, without an inkling how much the bill would be.

He slid the small piece of recycled paper across the desk. The amount seemed to transform before my eyes, first $220.00 then the blurry scribbles became clear– $420.00.

How could this be? The image of my check register with a balance of only $220.00 flashed before my eyes.

“Can I see it?” I asked. Trying to reconcile the guilt of sinking my bank account. I secretly thought. ”Hopefully it’s wonderful, and worth the havoc I just brought on myself.”

“Sure,” he answered quickly, “It all came together really nice. You’re really getting a bargain.”

I followed him into a back room where he proudly pointed to the contraption fashioned into sort of a cage. An open top and sides revealed a duck sitting on a perch. Under it was several colorful flat glass ovals: one blue, one red and the third a dull yellow. They were all staggered in hight and lit up when the duck pecked at it–which he was doing quite musically. The sounds reminded me of a large deep toned wind chimes.

Flowing out of his cage was a large waterside, with water that ran like a stream along the span of the wall. Obviously, for the duck to float down for his pleasure.

“A duck?” I just spent $420.00, and sunk my bank account for a duck?

“Is he as smart as a parrot?” I asked. Remembering how much we loved Demetri, our African Grey.

No answer.

Mercifully, I woke up. Resisting the urge to psychoanalyze myself, I started hunting for new budgeting software.

Although you’re probably wanting to launch into disturbing interpretations of that dream, as tempting as it is… first help me sort through a couple of the programs I found.

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YNAB is the only tool I have found (so far) that is acceptable. I will NOT use an online system like Mnvelopes for security reasons.

I have never found anything else that uses a true declining balance method (envelope) method. Nothing else is budgeting software. Quicken, et al, are just electronic account balance keepers. They don't do budgeting. If it's not a declining balance system, it's not budgeting.

YNAB is easy to use, well-written software. Not buggy at all. I mean REALLY well done.

There is also a ton of free training available, and an excellent support forum. (It does take a week or so to wrap your head around their approach.)

HINT: You can use YNAB's software and Dave Ramsey's approach. You don't have to do the YNAB philosophy.
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