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Getting Organized – Finance Style


When I was married, I managed the books for both of our businesses, did all his payroll, paid all the bills both business and personal, filed all our taxes and was obsessive about keeping my Quickbooks and Quicken files in balance.  I knew where every dime was, when every bill was due, everything.  It was a daily task for me, and by daily, I mean daily.  Fast forward six years almost seven years…

I’ve not maintained a Quicken/Quickbooks file at all.  Yes, on a couple of occasions, I would get it set up, do all the set up to synch my accounts and then promptly and completely forget about it or just plain ignore it.  I have lived by the seat of my pants since then.  Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, forgetting that I paid Paul and then having to borrow from Jane…and so forth.  I’ve been the queen of knowing exactly how long payments took to come out of my account and then rolling the dice on whether a pay check would come in before then, or using my card and banking on it not hitting the bank until a few days later to buy just that much more time.  It got so bad that I have refused to use paper checks at all, since I couldn’t predict when they would get cashed and frankly, wasn’t really monitoring my accounts that closely.  It was bad, super bad.

I would guesstimate that in my worst years I spent several hundred dollars are year on overdraft fees.  I knew it was wrong, I knew it was dumb, but between the marriage fail, the housing debacle (this is not the recent one, but the two rental homes I have written about previously,) being the sole provider for then two children, well I was a mess.

Now, in the last maybe, year and a half, I have started to get myself in order.  Keeping lists of bills and due dates, monitoring my bank accounts more closely and trying my best to avoid that stupid bank fees.  But I’ve still not returned to my obsessive nature that was we marriage fail.  And now it’s time…

Okay, not necessarily for the obsessive, daily financial craziness, but for a more organized, traditional book-keeping methodology.  So as of this month, I have updated my version (previous 2012) of Quicken Home & Business, begun the set up with my existing budget and categories, etc.  And I am determined to get back into at least a weekly habit of checks and balances as far as budget, planning and business review.

These last seven years have been a long, hard road.  I would like to say that I never signed up to be a single parent, but the fact of the matter is that I would have become a foster parent whether I got married/had biological kids or not.  So I can’t say I didn’t sign up for that part.  I certainly didn’t sign up for it the way it happened.  It wasn’t my plan.  But you know what, I/we are in a really good place right now.  There is a light, not just a light, but a BRIGHT light at the end of this tunnel and we are plugging away for full steam ahead despite setbacks and hardships this past year.

So for your Quicken users, specifically those who may be entrepreneurs/business owners, got any suggestions or tips and tricks to share with me?


  • Reply Beerzzz |

    It would be great if you would do this together with your two older children. My mom did the same with me from about age 14/15 and this was a great way to learn about money and financial obligations.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Agree with this. I would help my Mom write checks and she’d give me insight on money during her Saturday morning bill paying sessions. I learned things like how my Mom hated debt so much she would make daily deposits at the bank against the loan.

  • Reply Andrea |

    I have all our reoccurring bills, savings transfers, and income entered in bill pay. Annual and monthly ones are both there. They are all set to:
    – Automatically enter 0 days in advance
    – The due date is actually three to five days before the real date
    – They are all on auto draft
    – And they are set for the highest bill if they are variable (i.e. electric runs between $120 and $300, so it’s set for $300)

    The Reminders to Show is set at 90 days so I can see our cash flow. I have a dummy auto bill each Saturday for our gas/food money. That gives a true picture of how much cash we will have on any given day. Each Saturday when it “comes due” I delete that transaction and our available balance according to Quicken goes up.

    If I see we have a larger cash reserve down the road (mostly because I over-budget for things) I will enter a manual transaction marked with a green flag for (1) extra savings or (2) something we want but don’t really need, like a grill. I also enter any single bills as soon as I get them, marked with a red flag, and by looking at our cash flow, its easy to see how soon I can comfortably pay that bill.

    Hope this makes a little sense. My husband, a very smart man, doesn’t understand the dummy payments, but it works for me.

  • Reply Den |

    I think it’s great that you are getting organized again, but I’m also glad you’re not going overboard! I do best when it’s a simple bill paying system (mine is still on paper) that I look at once a week…..the times when I was obsessive about our bills were terrible! I was constantly thinking about money and bills and debt….kind of took over my life. Now it’s an important part of my life – especially since we are still paying off debt AND helping 3 kids thru college, but it’s not the most important – it’s just one more chore that needs to be done.

    I imagine you will feel big relief once you have a system up and running that you only need to work on as needed – good luck!

  • Reply Jen |

    Have you ever looked into YNAB? It is awesome and helped me out A LOT. Ashley was the one who brought it up here on BAD and got me interested enough to give it a go (34 day trial was a perfect trial run for me to start). I bought it the 4th day.

    It has truly turned my finances around. Before, I was always juggling things, putting off bills to be paid later, writing checks (because I knew the $$$ would not come out immediately), and overdrafting SEVERAL times a month (bad bad bad habit that was SUPER hard to break). I started noticing right away a better awareness of my money. As cliche as it seems, I feel like I have more money to go around each month (and I did not get a raise or come into a small fortune, lol). Try it. Get a code from someone to save the an extra $6. It is SOOOO worth it!!!

So, what do you think ?