Friday, October 31, 2008

Taking another shot at Quicken

We bought Quicken Cash Manager 2007 quite a while ago, during the early dawn of my interest in personal finance. The budgeting module is simple and fabulous, and me love it long time.

The rest of it, however, left me flummoxed. I took one run at setting up all our accounts and labelling things, and promptly messed up the register so badly that nothing would balance out. I gave up.

I checked it out again this week around the same time Gail Vaz Oxlade wrote a post on her blog about reconciling banking accounts:


Once a month you'll receive a listing of all the transactions on your account for the previous month. The worst thing you can do is stick your bank statement in a drawer, ignoring it. Instead, stick it in your end-of-month-bills file. At the end of the month, gather the statement, your chequebook register/accounts book and receipts for the previous month. Sit down, sharpen your pencil and haul out your calculator. You are now ready to reconcile your bank statement.

I suppose it says something unflattering about me that I'd see this and think -- "do people actually *do* this?!" ... 'cuz I don't.

I gawk at my online banking transactions so often that I figure I'll notice anything unusual. Well, that, and that as long as there's about as much money in there as I expect, I figure things are alright.

But this week I've tried futzing around with Quicken again. I still haven't got it 100% figured out -- transferring between accounts without messing everything up has still got me stumped. Last night I decided to tackle "our" accounts, after trying things out first on "my" accounts.

I printed out some analysis of "our" chequing, spending and credit card spending. My partner noticed a $75 charge to a guitar shop. Well, "we" don't play guitar, but "I" do -- and I'd recently paid $75 to have my bass guitar restrung. Or so I thought. Turns out I pulled out the wrong credit card to make the payment, and it slipped right past her when she was paying the bill a month ago.

So, that extra set of eyes on the expenses helped catch it. Well, to be honest, it was her set of eyes -- I missed it, too. But the extra step of taking a sober second look at the moneys turned up something that would've otherwise slipped by into history.

Good for us, sucks for me. Now "I" owe "us" $75. Poop.

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