Hey, new job, new town, new house, new everything (but computer).
And like every new year's resolutions, I'm determined to start keeping track of where is it that my hard-earned money is going to. So, I could do with some advice about what software to use and perhaps also what's the best way to go about this. You people write down all the bills and then try to make sense of the flux of money at the end of the month or...something else? While not exactly an innumerate, I'm somehow inept at this stuff, so the simpler the better.
I'm trying Homebank, thanks for the suggestion. It looks easy enough, but I don't know what sort of workflow I'm supposed to follow. This is, I can import bank statements all right, but still, I'm not sure what to do with them. Are you meant to "tag" similar operations together in order to be able to have an overview of where the money is going? And what about, say, cash withdrawals, do you independently keep track of what you spend on, e.g. food, clothes, pubs or whatever and then try to come to terms with the numbers by the end of the month?
What I do is have three categories for expenses - stable (rent), unstable (food), random. At the end of the month I see how much I spent in each category, and if it's high, I can drill down on what exactly took that much.
I have stable income and expenses set to automatically insert themselves, for other things I manually input what they were, usually on the same day from the receipts (5.5e on Thu on pizza, random expenses).
My wife and I use Homebank as well. What you can do is setup Categories (such as "Groceries", "Car Expenses", "Gasoline", "Insurance", "Cell Phone", "Food Out", etc) and then setup the Vendors (like "Walmart", "McDonalds", "Esso", etc). Then you link the two, for example say "Esso" will always be "Gasoline".
That all setup (only have to do it once), you import your bank statement and Homebank assigns each transaction a category to go into. All you have to do then is look over the entries and manually assign those which have not been automatically assigned and/or change some entries (for example, if you usually go to Esso to fill up with gas, but this time you went there to buy ice cream -> change the entry).
What does all that do? It will help you to see where your money went at the end of the month, and then you can try to reduce some of those expenses (like eating food out, you would be surprised how much money goes there!)
I am sure you already knew the benefits of use a program to keep track of your finances, but I just wanted to highlight a couple points for those who stumbled across your post. Hope this helped somewhat ...
Thanks for the replies. I'll try setting up sensible categories for my stuff and see how it goes. The problem at the moment is that we're expending lots in buying things for the house, tools, clothes and what not (just moved in a new place), which makes it a little harder for these aren't 'standard' months money wise. Also, it will be depressing to see how quick we drain our accounts. But hey, at least we'll witness it in nicely formatted pie charts : )