You know you’ve reached the upper echelon of financial geekdom when you take time each month to track your spending with personal finance software like Quicken, Mint, or an Excel spreadsheet. I personally am a Quicken user, but it hasn’t always been this way.
I began my financial make-over in early 2008. I had $28,000 in student loan debts and a $38,000 income. Money was by no means abundant, but I at least had something to work with. I started paying down my student loan, investing in a Roth IRA, contributing to retirement, and of course having some fun. I was doing all the things necessary to get my finances in order…or at least that’s what I thought.
I always knew personal finance software existed, but the thought of categorizing my purchases each month seemed pretty tedious. I was paying down debt and saving for my future. I didn’t care where the rest of my money went.
About a year in to my PF journey, Quicken was running a free trial for their basic personal finance software. I decided to sign up, and let me tell you, I was immediately hooked! I was fascinated, and by fascinated I mean absolutely horrified, that I was spending about $500/mo at restaurants. Can you believe that!?
Unfortunately numbers don’t lie. Seeing exactly how much I spent on food, entertainment, gas, insurance, rent, etc, forced me to rethink my priorities. What if I only spent $200 dining out and used the other $300 to pay down my loan faster? What if I reduce my 401K contributions and build up a more liquid safety cushion? I was now making conscious decisions on where I wanted my money to go.
I’ve been using Quicken’s personal finance software for a little over 2 years and have never looked back. With just a click of a few buttons, Quicken taught me more about myself than the Total Money Makeover (or other PF book) ever could. It really was a life changing experience.
Do you track exactly where all your money goes each month? If so which personal finance software do you use… Quicken? Mint? Excel? Did anything about your spending habits shock you?
p.s. No, I was not paid by Quicken (or anyone else) for this post. I would use Mint if I wasn’t freaked out about having all my financials in one central online location, and I would use Excel if I wasn’t so darn lazy.