Archives For June 2012

You Need A Budget

JasonC —  June 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

About a year ago, I started using You Need A Budget 3, a software application for creating budgets. I had done some research into different budgeting software and downloaded a few trial versions and found there is a lot out there to consider when looking at budgeting software.

Software I evaluated in some form or another:

All of those apps have their pro’s and cons. I already owned Quicken (though it broke with the latest MacOS version), Mint.com is free and I use it regularly. Gazelle Budget is included as a part of my membership to Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover (which also has some other cool tools). Here’s another good site to check out to keep yourself informed: PersonalFinanceSoftwareReviews.com.

 

But after evaluating the options, I ended up choosing You Need a Budget 3 (YNAB3) for my primary budgeting platform. It is a purpose-built application for budgets only. It’s not going to let you set up online bill payment. It won’t keep you updated to your current account balances. But it will not only let you create awesome budgets but it does it in a way that forces you to be honest with yourself about where your money is actually going. Dollar by dollar.YNAB4

Along the way, I will continue to evaluate other options as they are all improved regularly. But for now, I am happy with YNAB. I am considering trying to do some budgeting with Mint as well as it has some nice notification features that are more active than YNAB as the iPhone app seems to be better integrated. More on that later.

For the better part of a year I did pretty well with the household budget. Getting buy-in is sometimes a challenge, but I just consider that that is “part of the process.” And it’s important to the marriage that we have financial communication. I imagine that will be something that lasts forever and is never really “easy.” During that time we made great progress in lowering our debt and changing some financial habits. But In the last 6 months, the budget has fallen by the wayside. That happens when life gets in the way (moving to a new house, school and sports activities, etc.) Did I mention my wife & I have 7 kids between us. Yes, that will keep you busy.

The budget is an essential tool if you want to be in control of your money instead of having your money in control of you. This is one of the take-homes from Dave Ramsey and from my reading of The Millionaire Mind and The Millionaire Next Door (both worthy reads, btw). So I’m getting back on track. And hope to stay there.

Luckily for me, YNAB 4 was just released today (June 26). I’m going to use that as an excuse to work on the budget hard this week and simultaneously blog about the process and my thoughts on how it’s going. Check it out and let me know what you think. There is a free trial for a period of time.

Among the topics I’ll cover in upcoming blogs:

  • Getting ready for your budget
  • Working with YNAB 4
  • Maintaining your budget & pitfalls you may encounter

-Jason

Making Progress

JasonC —  June 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

OK, here we go again. It seems like every 2-3 years I get the bug to go work on my website. Honestly, why it is that I keep coming back and doing this is a mystery to me. It must be something to do with needing a “creative outlet” or some similar deal. I’ve had a website up continuously since 1995, so there’s no reason to stop now.

Anyway, the last time I did it, it was ok. I never really was happy with it, but I got sidetracked before it was completed. I had been using WordPress 2.7 or something like that and had been happy with it, but WP 3.0 required a change to the database and that turned out to be an insurmountable hurdle. In order to get current, I ended up losing essentially all of my old posts. Here’s hoping that WordPress 4.0 doesn’t require PHP6 or 7 or something and messes it all up yet again.

Am I the only one who finds that every couple of years absolutely EVERYTHING changes? Honestly, when I started on the web, I hand-coded everything and I used Photoshop for graphics. Pretty simple. Now you need WordPress, a Theme Editor, a CSS book or two for reference. And you still end up getting a kludge.

Part of the reason I’m energized about this right now is working on my wife’s website www.holleycox.com . And part of it is from reading a book (I’m not finished, but about 40% there) called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. I’ve read and enjoyed stuff from other authors on similar topics (establishing your online presence, essentially), but this book is the definitive resource as far as I’m concerned. It is clear. Gives great advice. Concise. It’s almost a step-by-step how-to on creating your online presence across multiple social media. Honestly, it’s awesome.

So, to keep this short, I’m going to attempt, yet again, to get on board the “regular posting” train. And you’ll probably see changes to the theme to this website.

Along the way, please feel free to send me some feedback. Both regarding the design of the site and the content. What posts have you enjoyed the most? What topics do I cover best? If you know me personally, this is especially important as you can also let me know if I’m staying true to myself or not.

I’d love to hear from you. Maybe some day there will be more responses than spam!