Budgeting tools

Continuing with last week’s post dishing up the skinny on my budgeting past, I wanted to write just a bit this week about the budgeting tool I’m using now, per Better Budget Challenge # 2: Choose your budgeting tool.

I mentioned back at the beginning of the month that I was using PearBudget. That wasn’t a good fit for me. A week of that showed that. I couldn’t easily see my spending the way I wanted to. So I downloaded the old spreadsheet form of PearBudget and have been using it. I like it.

As I put in my spending, I can see through simple columns and rows how much I’ve used in each category and how much I have left in each category. Visually, I can get all the information I need in a glance. I like that.

It wasn’t hard to set up, but it can be hard making sure you’ve brainstormed all the categories you need. Dollar amounts may cause some trouble as I experiment. Right now, I’m following the advice to mostly just track my spending. I have to know how much of my money actually goes away to different categories before I can know where and how I can cut.

That aside, it probably took me 45 minutes to get the spreadsheet set up the way I wanted. I also had a week’s worth of expenses to put in, so that added about 2 minutes.

I don’t know if I can recommend this spreadsheet to a particular group of people, but I will say that I have a thing for spreadsheets and find this one sexy. You might, too. It’s a classy, simple, and square without being clunky.

I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and it’s working pretty well for me.

Daily tasteeness (2008-01-20)

Organize & Prepare: Do Your Taxes Quickly | My Dollar Plan
The title says it all. This seems like a good way to get organized to make taxes simpler.

Single Guy Money: Save Money on Auto Insurance
I just ripped Progressive a new one for how much I’ve been overcharged for my car insurance. If you have the money to do so, Single Money Guy has some tips to get discounts on insurance.

Time To Call The Credit Card Company
“If you are trying to get out of credit card debt, you might want to think about giving your credit card company a call.” Get your rates reduced, increase your limit, waive balance transfer fees… Make it easier to get out of debt. Argue well.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Spending Cash | The Happy Rock
I mentioned previous that I was using cash to help with my budgeting/spending issues. This post lists some of the pros and cons of spending cash.

PuTTY: a free telnet/ssh client
Now that I’ve left Rose and had my laptop eaten by cats, I don’t have access to the nice college software for SSH access. So I’m reduced to using the free stuff, like Putty. It’s not bad, honestly. I’d recommend it for SSH, although not for FTP.

How to Automate Your Personal Finances ∞ Get Rich Slowly
Automating finances is a crucial way to get saving rolling and debt paid off. I’m not a fan of all of the steps here — I don’t agree with consolidating your bank accounts in one place — but overall, these are wise steps to follow.

Ask the Readers: Should I Prepare My Own Taxes or Go to an Accountant? ∞ Get Rich Slowly
My taxes aren’t complicated yet, but I do have a friend who will soon be running his own business and I am woefully tax-ignorant. I’ve leaked money like a sieve the last two years on my taxes, and this post reminded me that I need to get more educated.

WordPress 2.3 compatible WordPress – Del.icio.us Daily Synchronization script
I’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to get my del.icio.us links to post. The method on the del.icio.us site itself doesn’t work for me, and I wanted a bit more customization over style and format. So currently, I’m playing with this perl script.

*rip*, *tear*, *slice*

I just found out that Progressive has been charging me extra each month because they think I’m an “inexperienced” driver. That I haven’t had a license for at least three years. Never mind that I’ve had this policy for this car for three damn years. And never mind that I had my first policy with them for my first car during my freshman year of college.

Silly.

They told me they couldn’t access the details of those old policies (the Indiana one and the one for the first car), and they assumed I had a permit for those. I was told to get driving records from the DMVs in question for each of my licenses. That would have cost money for each one and required having the driver’s license numbers for licenses that I don’t have anymore.

Silly.

One last furious email back on my part resulted in them being willing to concede that I was right. I’m sure that they’re going to fix the amount I’ll pay in the future (anything down from $300/mo, even with the accident, has to be an improvement). I told them, though, that I want every damn dime I’ve been overcharged since I started this damn North Carolina policy in September back. That was when they capitulated re: future months, but I suspect I’ll still have to fight pretty hard if I want money back from previous months.

$300 per month has been a big, painful expense for me on a teacher’s salary, especially when combined with the $300/mo from my consolidated school loans (oops, no grace period when you consolidate, sucka!). I was paying less than half of that in Indiana. I’m pissed about this, even though I’m satisfied it’ll be getting fixed.

Fear is the mindkiller…

I’ve been sitting here for the last hour or so, rereading my writing works in progress, trying to find a thread to pick up and run with. Or trot with.

Or stroll with.

I tried playing around with a micro from a writing prompt, but my imagination was pretty dry. I’m going to keep trying, but I’m saddened by my lack of creative thought.

In other news, I told my students I was quitting today. One student’s response was, “You don’t like teaching high school? Why couldn’t you have figured that out at the beginning of the year?!”

Ah. Nasty little child. Students like her, that want nothing other than perpetual entertainment and an easy ride through all classes, disappoint me.