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Best software for simple household budget?

(19 Posts)
bobbityboo Wed 15-Dec-10 09:50:00

Money is a huge problem in our family and DP has some kind of problem with dealing with it.
Money discussions are some kind of trigger for him to become twitchy and aggressive in the most out of character way. (When we got together he was tens of thousands in debt and we couldn't discuss that at all.)
Luckily he earns well and has paid off much of the debt, but we still have no idea where we are financially and I am always scrimping and saving as I don't know when he will say there is no money for the bills.

Next year I am going to try to work out some way of planning our money as painlessly as possible, and I wondered if anyone had been in this situation and could recommend a good system for household budgeting that is very simple. (It will be enough effort to overcome his avoidance techniques without learning a challenging system.)

Lizcat Wed 15-Dec-10 11:40:32

A simple spreadsheet in excel works really well. I use this for a small business' accounts.

Chil1234 Wed 15-Dec-10 12:46:07

I use Microsoft Money which I think came already installed on my PC - either that or it's a free download. It takes some time to set up all the accounts, credit cards, direct debits etc. but, once you've done it, it makes understanding your finances a complete doddle.

Gonzo33 Wed 15-Dec-10 13:51:07

I use excel as well.

ReformedCharacter Wed 15-Dec-10 14:04:04

Microsoft Money is excellent. I use a Mac now and haven't found anything remotely as good for day to day money management.

Alternatively there's a link to a very thorough budget tool on Martin Lewis' MSE site.

bumpybecky Wed 15-Dec-10 14:10:57

I used to use Money, but found I was using it to record spending rather than to budget in advance IYSWIM. I've been using You Need Budget since May and find it fantastic it's much more budget based rather than account based like money. I had a week's free trial at first to give it a go, they also do free web seminars to help you understand it if needed and there's a support forum that I've found helpful. My only complaint is that it's a bit American - checking accounts and check numbers etc, but it can be in ££ so not that bad!

bobbityboo Wed 15-Dec-10 14:26:16

Thanks for all the replies.
I have used the budget tool on the MSE website which is helpful, and I am currently trying a version of a cashflow spreadsheet which is working ok just for me. I just looked at the You Need Budget site and it looks good but I am not sure how much of a learning curve there is. Don't want to let him (or me) put it off because it's tricky to learn. I might try the download later.

What I hope to do is to be able to group different items together so that he can see where he is spending highly, eg, work related payments, lunches out, birthday presents.

bobbityboo Wed 15-Dec-10 14:31:12

PS. If it involves putting accurate data in from bank accounts, etc I don't think he will do that - he is very funny about his account. I don't think he is hiding anything - just very touchy about talking about it.

bumpybecky Wed 15-Dec-10 14:34:54

Bobbity, I won't lie - there is a bit of a learning curve, but it's not impossible and is worth the effort

I'd used Money for several years, so was used to entering transactions and balancing accounts. The think about the budget bit is that you can adjust it as and when you need to, it's really flexible. There's a free book on the site as well, might be worth reading some of that too. I've read on the forum that if you think you've not got the hang of it after a week, if you send a message to the developer (he posts on the forum) that you can have the trial extended a bit longer.

I posted a few questions on the forum too and got really helpful replies, not quite as fast as MN, but within a few hours

I think the thing that puts people off is the price, but I know it's saved me more than it cost several times over already

bumpybecky Wed 15-Dec-10 14:36:11

and to answer the last bit, you don't need to add any old data, just a starting balance. Just start from where you are and work forwards.

I know I sound like an advert, but I'm not paid buy them honest!

wolfhound Wed 15-Dec-10 14:37:05

I use Home Accountz (look them up on Google). I've used it on both a PC and a Mac. Really good software, and has enlightened me considerably about where our money goes!

But it does involve putting in accurate data from bank accounts etc. yes. I can't imagine how you could have any sort of useful tracking of money without doing that. Budgeting is one thing - you can do that on a piece of paper. But telling whether or not you're keeping to a budget? That's the important bit. I used to use a spreadsheet, but found that Accountz was much better and more useful. I do exactly what you've described - categorise spending so I can see what's going where. Turns out our big spending categories are not at all what I thought they were.

If your DP has a problem with inputting data, could you just do it without mentioning it to him? Not as a form of keeping tabs on him, but simply as a way of getting a handle on your joint expenses.

Good luck

bobbityboo Wed 15-Dec-10 14:53:48

Thanks again. I think these might be my final questions...

Do you have to enter every item bought into the accounts or just general amounts? I think the idea of putting every coffee and postage stamp in might fox me too. I will do it if I have to, but I know I am very bad at details like that and routines. I am a sit-down-at-one-go and tackle things kind of person.

I've not been the best budgeter but then I am a pretty frugal spender - DP not so much!!

bumpybecky Wed 15-Dec-10 15:10:46

well IMHO if you want to budget you must know what you're spending and it just doesn't work if you save up receipts for one / two / six(!) months and enter it all in one go.

If you decide to use YNABU there's more than one way of doing things...

my way - everything gets entered, every single transaction (well apart from very odd ones that I forget anyway). The vast majority of things you get receipts, those odd cash things that don't you just have to remember. It's best to keep fairly up to date (or there's no point doing it) anyway, so I try and add things every couple of days. There is an iphone ap for YNAB if that's your thing (not mine, so can't comment).

Every couple of months I add up all the cash DH and I have in purse, wallet, drawer, mug in cupboard just to check it's not too far off the amount in my cash account in YNAB and adjust if needed. After the first 6 months I was about £10 out which was better than I was expecting.

the other way - some people don't track all cash spending. They set up a category for cash and don't track individual spends within that category. I think this only works if you don't spend big / often in cash or if you're not too worried about precise budgetting.

If your DH doesn't like telling you what he's spent money on then I can't really see how it'll work, unless you just want to account for your / joint spending. You could just have a category for DH's spends and he won't need to tell you what it really was for.

Hope that makes sense

bobbityboo Wed 15-Dec-10 15:52:47

Thank you again for all the detailed replies. I may post again after Christmas when we try putting this into practice!!

(Bumpybecky - I am very impressed by your being only £10 out after 6 months. That must be so satisfying. I am quite inspired.)

wolfhound Thu 16-Dec-10 11:18:53

I try and enter everything too (on Accountz) But DH doesn't get round to it, so his cash spending is just a lump sum (what he takes out of the ATM). You can make it as detailed or as non-detailed as you like. Totally up to you. You can choose what categories too. The user forum on Accountz is very helpful. And the couple of times I've had trouble with things, I've posted there for help, and someone from the company has called me back within a couple of hours and sorted out the problem, which was rather impressive. Good luck :-)

beachhut Thu 16-Dec-10 15:37:25

I use Money as well

In addition to bumpybecky I would say that you don't have to enter it all by hand even if you want a fair amount of detail.

For several of my online accounts you can download a file of your statement and it will go straight in and be accurate. You set up categories for each amount once and it will recognise and categorise the next time you spend/receive money from/to the same source/target(for most things). You just review them once entered. For cash you take out and spend, you can leave it as 'cash' or manually split it down into what it goes - I tend not to bother unless I've taken it out for a specific purpose. The monthly reporting comparing this month with last month's spending is also good.

KarenHL Thu 16-Dec-10 15:45:56

I found the Money Secret book invaluable for us. At the time it got us out of debt over the course of a few years (which had taken us much longer to get into!).

However, their website has loads of free resources on it, eg a sheet to help you work out where the money is going, and another to help you work out a realistic budget.

What I like about the Money Secret website is that it is free and has quite a few handy hints on it. One of the things they do recommend (which we also tried), is that if you come majorly unstuck wrt paying bills/cards/rent/mortgage, try an organisation called CCCS. They are also free - and can help you to organise reduced payments etc.

PercyPigPie Fri 17-Dec-10 10:23:52

I use Excel too (though DH claims that the accounting system I have set up for our personal finances is more complex than that of the big blue chip he works for grin)!

bobbityboo Fri 17-Dec-10 12:49:23

Thanks again for the answers. Will check those out too.

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