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Advice for Planning a Budget with Quicken 2012

A budget is a list of the ways you earn and spend your money. If you create a good, workable category list with Quicken 2012, you’re halfway to a good, solid budget. (In fact, the only step left is to specify how much you earn in each income category and how much you spend in each expense category.)

You can do four things to make your budget more likely to work:

  • Plan your income and expenses as a family.

    With this sort of planning, two heads are invariably better than one. What’s more, a family’s budget needs to reflect the priorities and feelings of everyone who has to live within the plan.

    Don’t use a budget as a way to minimize what your spouse spends on clothing or on long-distance telephone charges talking to relatives in the old country. You need to resolve issues regarding your clothing and long-distance charges before you finalize your budget.

  • Include some cushion in your plan.

    In other words, don’t budget to spend every last dollar. If you plan from the start to spend every dollar you make, you undoubtedly have to fight the mother of all financial battles: paying for unexpected expenses when you don’t have any money.

  • Regularly compare your actual income and outgo to your planned income and outgo.

    This part of your plan is probably the most important and also the part that Quicken helps you with the most. As long as you use Quicken to record what you receive and spend, you can print reports showing what you planned and what actually occurred.

  • Make adjustments as necessary.

  • When you have problems with your budget — and you will — you’ll know that your plan isn’t working. You can then make adjustments, for example, by spending a little less calling the old country.

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