Finance Tips

by Christopher Paul on July 20, 2006

I’ve been look up new ways to better plan out my finances. I need to because I’ve got lots of goals that require cash to accomplish. Some things I am thinking about while doing this is (in no particular order):

  • Retire at Age 55
  • Purchase Summer/Winter “Get Away” Home(s)
  • Pay for Kids’ College
  • Pay for My MBA
  • Travel to Destinations Unknown (to Me or My Wife)
  • Buy/Lease a Car (LR3, hopefully)
  • Create “Rainy Day” Fund
  • Improve My Home(s)

So you can see that I have to plan for many all of them if I want to accomplish these tasks. In my quest to reinvent myself, I am trying to get focused and organized. I’m hoping that this leads to a happier life overall. And while I’m using resources out there that I should list in a blogroll or something, I need to find a way that works for me.

I’ve already set up all but two of my bills to be paid automatically. I also transfer money out of my checking account into a savings account the days that my wife and I get paid; no need to manually do it and its kinda like forced savings. I just created entries in our Google Calendar that track when bills need to be paid – even if they are done automatically. As they come in the mail, I’m going to track that and determine the bill/mail/due-date cycle of all my payees so I can create my own cash flow statements to understand. I’m even going to include the amounts of the bills in the calendar so I can really see what I need to pay, how much, an when.

Obviously, I need to budget. And while I kinda sorta don’t really have a formal budget, I do have a rough idea of what I take in and what I need to spend. What I don’t do is figure out how to maintain the budget as I do activities or buy things throughout the month and year. My wife and I hired a financial planner in January or February and we are waiting for his recommendations. When he delivers his plan, we will take a look at what we need to do to cover the most important goals (like retirement, colleges, summer home car, and rainy day). After that, I need to figure out a way to track my budget in real-time so I know where my money situation is like.

I tried Quicken. It didn’t work. Not only did it not reconcile with my bank very well, the tedious way it balanced the transactions made it a real chore to use. Neither my wife and I really used it more than a month or so after we got it because it was so cumbersome. Plus, we only have once license and three computers – my PC, her Mac, and our PC-based laptop. We installed it on the laptop so we could be good about our money while away from home. But my laptop is old and slow (lame excuse, I know) and it made it even harder to fix the problems I had with the electronic balancing it was supposed to do with my bank and credit card companies.

But I’m not giving up hope for a Quicken-like solution. I’m looking into Web 2.0 style websites that focus on money, budgets, and GTD tips, applying some of my own ideas (like the calendar thing), and working towards a plan that I can be proud of. Maybe someone will like to my money tip enough to link to it. Maybe I can start a tip site.

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