Every weekend I spend several hours working with our finances. When I do it every single weekend, it’s a lot easier. When I miss a weekend, there’s twice as much data entry. Although it’s difficult to make myself sit down every single weekend, it definitely is less time consuming to do it every weekend.
Here’s how a typical session goes:
- Open Quicken.
- Open my Excel billing spreadsheet.
- Log on to all accounts and print out the transactions that have occurred within the last week or two or however long I need to catch up on. It has sometimes been as long as one month! With one bank we have two checking accounts, 1 savings account and 1 secured credit card. With another bank we have 1 checking account, 2 savings accounts and 1 credit card. With yet another bank, we have the final credit card. The only credit card that is actively used is the secured credit card, which is being used solely for building Mr. A’s credit rating, and is used only on personal gasoline purchases.
- Gather receipts and begin entering them into Quicken. I am pretty detailed about entering into Quicken. I have tried downloading the transactions straight from the bank and while it’s easier initially, it always seems to end up more difficult in the end.
- Once all the receipts are entered into Quicken, I then take the printout from each account and go through and make sure every transaction is entered into Quicken. Since the bank lists everything in order of date, and I have Quicken set up to sort by date, that goes pretty quickly.
- After I match everything up, there are always additional transactions to enter into Quicken. The bulk will be purchases by Mr. A who is not to disciplined at keeping receipts.
- After all transactions are entered, I’m ready to do one of two things. If it’s the end of the month, and those printouts I just used were monthly statements, I begin reconciling each account. Once I’m done reconciling, I move on to step 8.
- If it’s during the month, or if I’ve just finished reconciling the accounts, I go to my Excel spreadsheet where I keep a running tally of how much money is in each account. I enter the current balances for all accounts. And actually, even though I am managing many accounts, I only track the two checking accounts, as they are the ones with available money.
- I keep two time periods listed in Excel. The first half of the month, and the second half of the month. For example, in my spreadsheet right now, rows 652 through 699 contain the first half of March. Current balance accounts, money we’re owed or waiting to come, etc. in the top rows; below that every bill that gets paid within the first half of the month is listed. If you would like to see a sample spreadsheet, please email me using the contact information to the right. Here’s a screenshot. You’ll have to click on it for a legible view.
- As I pay bills (writing checks, paying online AND entering the data into Quicken), I make the first column of numbers bold, and delete the amount from the second column. For example, if I pay the mortage, I make the $500 in the first column bold, then delete $500 from the second column. When I delete numbers from the 2nd column, the number tallies automatically at the bottom as to how much money is currently available. Don’t forget to update the money left in the account from which you just paid the bill, or your ending balance will be skewed and you’ll think you have more money left over, than you actually do.
- When I have all the bills paid, and all the current balances in place, I once again have a good picture of how much money we have available on hand. And then I can relax for the week knowing we won’t be bouncing checks, or accrue late fees for payments made late, or accrue fees for going over limits.