12 February 2006

FtG -- Quicken Smells Fear

...at least, my installation of it does. It can tell when I'm nervous, when I'm insecure. It mistakes my fear of finance for a fear of software, and it acts up. Little does it know, I've been bludgeoning software into behaving well for ages. I'm not too bad with dog training either. So as the great Lois McMaster Bujold says, we're going for best two falls out of three. I'm cleaning up my files, in preparation to send them off to The Black Dragon, my mighty Tax Goddess. I'm recategorizing stuff, cleaning out duplicates, getting accounts linked properly. Basically, catching up on a year of financial housekeeping that I should have been doing all along. Funny how the spectre of the Tax Reaper makes you get all noble and upstanding. It's tricky, though, because the software is designed, well, for people who know what they're doing with money. Back when I started using Quicken, I was basically using it as an online check register. I've come a long way since then, sure, but I still don't have the financial knowledge to deeply utilize the structures built into the program by those wiser than me in such things. For instance, I got tired of my personal assets column being all blank and lonely. I own a house here in the Bay Area, and I know that despite the fact that the majority of this house still belongs truly to the bank, it's somehow considered an asset to me. Makes no sense in the real world, but we're not talking about the real world, we're talking about the Funhouse World of Finance. So I set up the account properly. And lo and behold, not only is there an account on the asset side, there's an account on the liability side, and it tracks how dismally slowly my principal is diminishing, and how much of that montly payment goes straight to loan interest. Oi! And I get confused about where different types of accounts go. How they get categorized. How they get set up within the program... I have three new knots in my back over this. But ya know, when the program told me that it could not connect to my financial institution (three separate times!), I knew precisely what to do. I put that program in its place, yes I did. It's a small victory, but it's mine. And you have to give yourself what little credits you can along the way.


At 2/14/2006 08:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a braver woman than me ;-)


At 2/16/2006 04:13:00 PM, Blogger SFWriter13 said...

Which is why I don't buy software that's smarter than I am! I'm still using Quicken 2000 and it does everything that I need (and more that I don't even use in that edition!).

You just need to look at versions of Word after '95 to see what happens when the software thinks it knows what you want.

At 2/20/2006 01:48:00 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

I gave up on Quicken long ago. I decided part of my ignoring my finances, was 'cause I didn't want to deal with Quicken, or Money.

Last year I started the easy habit of using simple spread sheets instead in Excel. Then, I attach each to an email to our Tax Goddess.

For instance, from me she gets:

Freelancing spreadsheet
Hobbies spreadsheet
Home Office spreadsheet
Donations spreadsheet
DMV and Car Junk spreadsheet

and so forth. Each one is simple. It lists what I spend, and any money I might have made if appropriate. That's it.

I also have my budget spread sheet that I make up once a year, which lists all my bills and expenses with the amount I've alloted myself. I only edit as needed.

Lastly, I have my monthly budget, which lists everything I've spent in the month, and how much I'm allowed to spend in each category. I open this whenever I use my credit debit card:-)

Most the spread sheets I ignore till the end of the year, some I only have to open now and then to update, and two I open frequently.

In doing that, I've tracked my pennies with no complicated software. I let the Tax Goddess decide if something is really a right off or something from Dana's musings.



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