I find myself asking for proof of payment a lot this month. After tracking our personal finances for years, Chris and I have slacked off in the last year or so. Quicken stopped supporting automatic downloads in its 2007 version and let’s face it, when implementing austerity measures, does one really have to track anything?
We’ve never regretted tracking our expenses and income so in February we looked around for free accounting software…which was a little silly since we own Simply Accounting (me being a bookkeeper, you know). But after our Quicken experience and knowing that we may not always want to keep purchasing Simply Accounting updates, we decided to look around.
There’s lots out there, but we finally settled on GNUcash. It’s very Quickenish-like, which depending on how you approach numbers, may or may not be a good thing. But, we were used to the look and Chris was going to have to use it, too, so being “free” cinched it.
It took me a few days to set up, mostly because I was trying to fit in work around it. Chris spent several hours figuring out how to download our transactions from the bank. Canada is far behind in this technology and it seems to be a two-step process. I seem to recal it being much more seamless back in 2007…
We started tracking on March 1st and as always, keeping track of money in and out of wallets is the trickiest part. It’s why we’ve always used our credit cards and then paid them off each month. It’s tempting not to ask for a receipt when paying cash, but that’s where the tracking will fall down. I’m currently $40 out on my wallet!
Another reason we wanted to track was to start to research how we may approach our second vehicle. Traditionally, this is the time of year we start thinking about putting the truck back on the road, and that comes with the costs of insurance and fuel. I’m working two days a week in Kamloops and already our fuel costs have increased.
We have been thinking about putting the motorcycle on the road. It’s much more fuel efficient, costs less to licence and insure and would definitely keep the cost of working in Kamloops down. We’re also seriously looking into selling one of our vehicles for a small, fuel efficient diesel that could run on used cooking oil. After spending the better part of two days picking Ed Beggs brain about cars fueled on used cooking oil, we really see the potential for savings on the wallet, and on the environment.
We’re also doing it because it’s been enough months feeling like we just don’t have a clear picture anymore. Feeling in control of what’s coming in and going out has been our method of making important decisions.
What do you do to track your personal finances?