I've spent almost every free moment I've had this week with a yellow tablet and a pencil in one hand and my iPhone in the other hand running the Spend application and I still can't reconcile our budget.
My system isn't working.
This is how I've BEEN doing the budgeting (aka: the way that doesn't work). I spend money and keep the receipts in my wallet until I get the chance to enter them into Spend. Then, unless I might need the receipt for a return or for tax purposes, I pitch it. When I get behind, like I did last week and the receipts pile up, I just get out a yellow tablet, categorize everything and then enter it all into Spend as a single chunk in each category.
When you enter data into Spend, you don't have the option to split single purchases into multiple categories, you have to do that manually, which means when I spent $100 at Fred Meyer, it will inevitably be divided up into groceries, household, clothes, etc and I end up with no record of the TOTAL amount of that purchase, unless I either keep the receipt (which I haven't been doing) or painstakingly go back through all my categories and add up the Fred Meyer entries that are on the same date. This process? NOT SO FUN!
And then... the VISA bill arrives.
I've spent countless hours this week trying to figure out which expenses I've already entered and which ones Dave forgot to give me receipts for and I'm at a loss. I too overwhelmed to even begin to finish it.
I give up! I admit defeat! Our Visa bill was around $2300 this cycle and even though that represents a non-month (why can't the bills just run from the 1st through the end of the month?!?!?), it indicates we weren't HORRIFICALLY off base. Of course, that doesn't include the debit card spending, so who knows.
What I do know is that doing the same thing over and over again, like I've done for the past MANY YEARS and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, so I've already found a NEW MUCH BETTER SYSTEM, thanks to you wonderful readers.
I've signed up for mint.com and so far I love it. LOVE IT. Unlike Spend, it has the ability to track my spending online for me AND it automatically downloads all my purchases from ALL my accounts, which means I don't have to maintain separate account totals (debit spending, like at Winco/Costco vs. VISA account spending) AND the best part is that it allows me to subcategorize (ie: SPLIT) purchases, which is why I've generally avoided such programs in the past. Anyone can track OVERALL spending by just balancing their checkbook, but I almost always spend in multiple categories WITHIN THE SAME PURCHASE, so simply keeping an accurate ledger balance never tells me where my money actually goes. (Target isn't a CATEGORY, is it?)
Mint.com seems to be the solution to this problem and best of all: It's FREE.
I've got everything set up so we'll be a go to start the new system beginning tomorrow, the first of the month. Obviously, I'll let you know how it goes.