Tracking my Money with my Computer

I do everything on my computer and everything I do usually turns into a series of lists so naturally, I’ve turned to my computer for the important task of tracking my finances. For the last five years, I have tried and tried to come up with a perfect technique of finance tracking for myself. I have tried paper ledgers, Excel spreadsheets, online budgeting/social networking tools, and various computer programs to help me keep track of the way my money flowed in and out. The only things I stayed away from where programs I had to buy because my frugal heart was really pained at the thought of shelling out money when I just knew I could do it in a less expensive way.

Basically, everything was a failure for a number of reasons:

Pure Laziness – I did manage to develop a habit of saving every single receipt that came my way but I would go months before that stack of receipts became sufficently large enough to attract my attention. Then, the task would be so overwhelming that I would procrastinate which made me forget again. Eventually, I would end up with a huge stack of receipts that gave me such a headache that I would just chuck them all out and restart my whole budget.
Forgetfulness – Sometimes, I forced myself to be diligent with my budget and meticulously recorded everything on the receipts and on my bank records. However, cash transactions often were receipt-less and then I would forget to record the amount down so that by the time I got home and sat down, the frustration of not being able to remember even an approximate figure for that transaction would drive me bananas which made me not want to do my budget and therefore I would resort back to procrastination eventually.

Complications – I have a lot of different accounts all over the place which serves me perfectly well. However, it becomes more complicated when I’m trying to keep track of them all in one place. So, either it would be incomplete which was not an optimum solution or way too complicated to manage so I would not want to do it and therefore, (yup! you guessed it) I would procrastinate.

But, I think this time, I’ve figured out a good technique for myself:

GnuCash – this is a computer program that I’ve discovered that I really like. It’s on my computer so I don’t have to be online to use it. It’s easy to use and the format is pretty self-explanatory. It has a lot of categories and a flexibility to adjust the categories to fit your needs. Best of all: it’s free because it’s open-source which also means that it should be free of spyware. Check it out here.

Notecards – part of my notecard PDA that I keep on my purse that goes everywhere with me, it allows me to scribble down random cash transactions so I don’t forget the amounts later.

Persistence – I’m making myself record the previous day’s transactions every morning right after I wake up. By giving it a set time, it should help me to keep it going and stave off the inevitability of procrastination.

I’ll let you know if it works or not. What works for you?

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