Personal Finance.

Right Christmas has been and left a hangover and a rather large dent in my personal savings. In fact I am exactly where I was last year.

Its about time I took life, or should I say money, a little more seriously and actually tracked what I spend in order to save a bit more.

Can anyone recommend a good program?

ibank looks ok, cha-ching looks pretty, moneydance looks like it was hit by an ugly stick.

Over the years, I’ve heard of far fewer problems with Moneydance than with most other financial apps. Of late, Quicken, for example, has been trashing folks’ desktop files with an upgrade. :smiley:

Maybe if the financial app looks ugly, the thought of spending money will have less allure?

BTW, through the website, you can get 10% off Moneydance through the end of the year.

I can recommend Moneydance, too. When I moved to the Mac about six years ago, I tried the Mac version of Quicken and it was hopeless at importing my 10 years of Quicken data from Windows. Moneydance did it without a twitch, and I’ve been with it ever since.

I’ve looked at a couple of other Mac entries, but none so far has tempted me to shift allegiances. So far, no technological hiccups, no lost data, nothing but smooth reliable service. Sure it looks kind of like Quicken circa 1986, but it works for me.

I like Checkbook. It is easy for somebody that doesn’t really ordinarily keep track of anything, like me! You press Cmd-[minus] when you spend stuff, and Cmd-[plus] when you happen to actually make money. That’s it. It has little graph reports and such so you can see where everything is going, and you can set up scheduled debits and deposits for those things which always happen predictably.

1.- Find out what or where you are spending your money. This means take pen and notepad and WRITE DOWN every cent you spend. Once you know that you spend money on I don’t know, coffee, you can start the concept of a budget.

2.- Now that you know WHERE you are spending your money you can start thinking of a budget. DON"t use software in the beginning. Just seat down and write a budget and TRY to stick to it.

3.- Pay yourself first, this means, putting your savings in your account before you spend on anything. Try to save at least 10% a month.

4.- Holidays… yes they can be a pain. BUDGET them in.

5.- Same goes for entertainment.

6.- Same goes for clothes.

7.- If you do give to charity, same thing.

Track what you spend and you will be shocked just how much you can stop spending from your discretionary. Once you make this a habit, you will find yourself not only saving, but with money in the bank at the end of the month. Oh and if you get a raise, use the differential to save for the future or any emergency. Try to continue to live on your previous pay.

No, I am not a financial advisor, but what I learned from having to live on Navy pay.

Cashbook or Moneyworks from Very robust and flexible, light on resources, and good at VAT/GST or other goods and services taxes. For those of us outside the US, that’s an issue often not adequately addressed.

As I was thinking about it, I decided to give you a concrete example.

Inflation has been through the roof locally… so I found that my money was not going as far as it used to. I needed to do something about it. So one fine day I sat down and asked “how much am I spending on coffee?”

Ok… I go down to the store to get groceries and they have a coffee shop there. I like their Latte… this is round numbers three dollars… ok that is 18 dollars a week… I also like to go to the local coffee shop to write… add two more coffees there a day… that is 36… so the grand total is… fifty four dollars, in fact a tad more, so lets say sixty.

Ok… this is just coffee… after I did the math, I am down to buying a cup of coffee ONCE a week, when we meet for the writing group… hell not even coffee, but either tea, as in iced tea, or English Breakfast tea. This went down from 52 dollars to less than five a week.

That is how you cut down discretionary spending.

Another idea… locally at the Price Club I can buy movie tickets for seven dollar each for the movie theater. When I go to the price club I buy several sets, why? the regular ticket is close to 20… for me and my husband… but we can spend fourteen to buy the tickets, allowing us the luxury of buying a drink at the theater and still keeping this at a reasonable price.

Oh and here is the one that shocks most folks… see that credit card… you know the one… pay it ALWAYS in FULL at the end of the month. If you don’t have the money for any item, don’t buy it. Massive example, we just replaced our computers… both were paid cash.

But, but… the interest alone is a killer. Do the math… for every moth you don’t pay in full you are paying quite a bit of money… anywhere from 14% to 25% APR, depending on the card. Ugly secret, they try to make you pay over twenty years, anything, which means you pay for your stuff in interests two to three times the original price, if you just pay the minimum. So pay them down, as fast as you can, and don’t buy things unless you can pay at the end of the month.

Will it put a crimp on your current lifestyle? Perhaps… but I sleep at night and we have savings in the bank.

Oh and once you get into these habits, then invest in software if you think you need it.


Writers, I think, have to be careful with this one. Not long ago I calculated that I was spending a bunch of money eating lunch out, and if I ate lunch at home I’d save a bundle. So I tried it. I ended up with less money, because I was doing less work. I’d come home, eat lunch, do some laundry, take a nap–you know the syndrome. Now when I really need to get a bunch of writing done, I make sure to set aside some cash for having lunch out. Same goes for coffee and tea–if I didn’t buy a lot of these things (as a form of rent), I’d be in trouble.

Basically, now I try to ask: will making this change cause me to spend less? But will it cut into productive writing time?

My bank says they only support Quicken.

Does anyone know if MoneyDance can replicate a Quicken link to my bank - so that I might pay bills online, and download transactions?


Who d y bank withBanco di Cosa Nostra? :open_mouth:

if the bank supports the QIF format I believe that MoneyDance will be able to load the data.

On the theory front I agree with nadinbrzezinski. Where I disagree is on the how. I have managed to gain control by using the software to visualize the expenses in a way that I was unable to do with mere paper. It is invaluable to see the coffee as a significant slice in a pie chart. It was the fact that I had a slice dedicated to coffee that caused me to realize that I needed to contain spending in that area.

What I did was the following.

  1. Start entering data from a point I recommend the next statement date as this helps minimize catch up.
  2. Set up a cash account in the software (I use quicken H&B on a parallels VM so i can’t tell you how to do this).
  3. Account for EVERY penny that you spend in cash. Not doing this wastes all your time and effort.
  4. every week review your expenses. Review them with the “other” if so equipped. At each weekly review include the last week, the last 2 weeks. the last 4 weeks, the last quarter and the last 6 months.
  5. Make #4 a part of your weekly schedule.
  6. remember #5.

My experience is that budgets are mandatory, but if you don’t know where you are spending you can’t make one. I found that my budget created itself in the course of 6 months. After that we have had to make small adjustments due to cost changes.

YMMV, but this is what I had to do.

BTW, I traded a number of things to maintain my coffee habit. It is still a dedicated slice of my pie. Make sure your budget leaves room for enjoyment or you won’t stick to it.


I aint got no money, so I dont know why Im posting this

vic :frowning:

PS A Prosperous New Year To All :laughing:

Has everybody tried Buddi? It seems modern and effective to me:


cheers all :slight_smile: I went for Moneydance in the end. its a little annoying version 2008 will be out soon but it is nice to have all my money sorted out and budgets budgeted. Its a really good application for the money :slight_smile:

Does anyone use Gnucash?

I love it very much, even with the pain of installing it on my mac (though with 10.5 it became easier, just time-consuming).

I’ve tried iBank and recently Moneydance, and though Moneydance works quite well, I miss the simplicity of Gnucash. Moneydance makes nice graphs and charts though :slight_smile:

Anybody else looking at financial programs with the holidays and recession and all?



I’m actually testing an app called Flowing Pennies ( It’s kind of like CheckBook but with a few more views and isn’t “account based.” Seems pretty nice so far. It’s basically an electronic ledger with a few different views and a running balance of debt/income ratio for all of your accounts combined.

Moneywell 1.4 was released today and is IMHO the best program available in terms of functionality, manuals, service, etc. Works very nicely with multiple currencies (for example I get paid in euro but spend in pounds) and is very good to control your budget.

I am not paid for this but certainly a happy user 8)

See for yourself and try the demo:


I haven’t yet found anything that does what I want. Right now I’m doing my transaction tracking and historical summaries and analysis in LiquidLedger, because when I evaluated software a year ago it was the closest to what I wanted. But I’m still doing my budgeting in a spreadsheet.

Do any of these pieces of software have the concept of large annual fees that you pay out in a lump sum? All of them show that I’m “under budget” until it’s time to pay, say, my car insurance, or my property taxes, then suddenly I’m “over budget” for that item when I do pay it, until the end of the year when it finally balances out.

No one has mentioned Quicken, so I will. I mostly write online checks via my bank, and once a month I download that data from bank and credit card in QFX files, which pull all the information into the appropriate places in Quicken. Then I make sure all items are appropriately coded for tax purposes. At the end of the year, I use QuickReport in Quicken to get yearly totals of the categories, entered into TurboTax. A process that used to take weeks is now a matter of days, filed electronically with IRS and state tax bureaus.

Here in the UK, Quicken (on all platforms) upped and left several years ago, having (according to people who used it) become increasingly buggy and less useful since the turn of the century. It appeared to be one of those programmes that develop backwards. Maybe that’s why it went. On Windows, that seemed to leave MS Money leading the field, but Money has had its critics too.

I know various other applications have their fans. But given the ease with which computers handle numbers, and the length of time such programmes have been developed, it’s strange to me that no one appears to have yet devised an easy-to-use personal finance programme that isn’t subscription-based, which does everything one needs excellently and is a clear favourite of most of those who use it.

The Scrivener of personal finance, in other words. Does Moneydance come close?