A new year, a new Quicken file

I cleaned up my finances this weekend, and it felt good. I took my Quicken file, which is about 15 years old and getting huge, and retired it. It was full of outdated categories and payees, half-assed budget reports, and way too much information.

I used to track every deduction from my paycheck, every retirement account, every asset, and every taxable investment. But in truth I never did much with all that data, and it just got confusing and complicated.

So for 2007 I created a new, simple Quicken file that tracks just my checking accounts (bills and discretionary) using a few clean, general categories. I enter my net salary rather than trying to capture all the different taxes and insurance payments.

If I want to see my retirement money or investments, I'll look at my account online at Vanguard. That money is no longer part of the day-to-day picture. I'm just going to forget about it and let it quietly grow.

The idea behind all this is to pay cash for everything and watch my spending closely. I set up a Flexible Spending Account with my employer, which removes the need to track healthcare expenses. Those are now paid for with a special debit card. I also cut up all my credit cards (and canceled the one whose number I had memorized) and now pay for everything with my bank debit card or Paypal. I even signed up with Bank of America's "Keep the Change" program to try to put a little more money away.

Not sure how well it's going to work, but there's definitely something to be said for simplicity.


Ballpoint Wren said...


This kind of post appeals to me greatly. I'm always trying to organize myself and I have a love-hate relationship with Quicken.