Who remembers Microsoft Money? It was fantastic software for home accounting. Easy, powerful, and cheap. It worked so well, I know several people who keep a Windows 7 laptop around just to keep running it. Microsoft doesn’t support MS Money anymore but you can still download it for free. A few people have even figured out how to make it run on Windows 10.
One of the reasons Microsoft quit making MS Money was the proliferation of smartphones. People stopped using their computers in favor of phones and tablets. For my family this introduced a problem. My wife uses Apple’s products but I use Android. Actually, I use everything LOL. We both need to track our expenses and bills and we share accounts so separate ledgers didn’t make sense.
There are a few agnostic home accounting apps, many of them are actually websites in disguise. I tried a some of them but decided that my chosen solution would need to work off-line. Neither my spouse or I were keen to share our financial data with a third-party which many of the so-called free solutions require. They promise to protect it and never publish your personal information but so does Facebook. How many times has the old FB been hacked or had a bug that shared your life with the entire Internet? Sometimes free isn’t worth it.
After trying enough demo software that I had to factory reset both of our phones, we picked a winner. Anishu’s Homebudget app runs on Apple (iOS and Mac OS), Android, Kindle, and Windows. It can track your accounts, bills, budget, expenses, and income across all of those devices with ease.
Adding accounts and expenses is easy. All though I do wish they’d add a widget to quickly create an expense. There is a handy feature that allows you to take a photograph of your receipt and this has gotten me out of trouble more than once.
You can run reports that show your financial status over time, or quickly glance at a Payee to see how much you’ve spent with that vendor.
Tracking multiple sources of income and distributing it across multiple accounts is easy. I’ve set up my 401k, stocks, and other income in just a couple of minutes. I distribute the payments across multiple checking and savings accounts and a quick glance at the summary screen when I open the app shows me how much I have, what is spoken for, and forecasts where I’ll be in the next few months.
I can’t stress enough how important having a budget and sticking to it is for you financial future. I used to be one of those people who paid zero attention to their finances. Whatever my ATM receipt said I had in the bank, was what I had to spend. After a long time of not getting anywhere, I decided to start tracking everything in detail.
I was shocked to see how much I was spending on trivial things like fast food and movie rentals. I was keeping my local McDonald’s and Subway in the green all by myself. Seriously, if I would have spent that much on the stock instead of chicken nuggets and foot long BMTs, I could have retired by now. I had spent $3600.00 on just lunch in one year!!! Guess who takes their lunch almost everyday now? Lunch out was costing $10 – $15 per day. Taking my lunch costs $2 – $3 per day and it’s better for me to boot. I still get away from work for my break, I just do it in the lunch room with my Switch or a good book.
Weather you use Homebudget or some other application that suits you better, use something. You won’t know where your money is going until you start tracking it. Don’t be like my younger self and fall for the voice in your head that says you know what you spend. You don’t. Just like you don’t know how much you eat without tracking it. For most of us, our built-in gratification mechanisms keep us from seeing the full truth about things we like or want to do and that little voice that says you don’t need to worry about it, is just part of your ego’s cover-up.