the wonderfulness of tracking your expenses

It’s April 15 – Tax Day.  It’s the day traditionally dreaded, and the day where people stay up late into the night finishing their taxes so they can stand in a long line at the post office to get their taxes mailed on time. 

At our household, however, we didn’t need to stay up late to finish taxes this year.  We have – and love – our accountant!  Yay for accountants who specialize in clergy taxes!  Woot woot!  We met with our accountant back in early March, and he opened our eyes to a glitch in my husband’s W-2.  We thought it would be a huge deal, but it thankfully was fixed very easily, before the IRS even got involved.  It was an answer to a prayer.  Thank you, Lord!

So, our taxes are done, were mailed in a few weeks ago already (and I didn’t even have to stand in line!), and we are squared away with the IRS for another year.

Ahh. 🙂

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One thing I have done differently this year in regard to our family’s finances is to use the online program Pear Budget to track our family’s expenses.  I sang the praises of Pear Budget last year, and while I was excited to start using it, I didn’t do very well with it last year.  Many months went by without me making any entry at all in my account.

Bad Emily.

BUT, you may remember that I made a resolution at the beginning of 2010 to do better at keeping up with the mountain of receipts that our family tax situation forces us to keep.  So, because I SO MUCH HATE to deal with mountains of reciepts at one time, I found the motivation to keep up with them better this year.  Pear Budget has turned out to be an amazing tool to help me with that.

I still have to take the time to enter the receipts.  But, when I do it regularly, for three months in a row, it’s incredibly interesting to see where our money is actually spent.  I learned that I spend more on groceries that I realized.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but I really didn’t know how much I spent.

This wonderful system that Pear Budget has created for tracking your expenses (and tagging receipts, and comparing months to months, and categories within months to the same category in a different month – it’s awesome!) is really helpful.  It’s actually FUN to use, and fun is what makes a person more likely to keep up with it.  I still have to work to keep up with it, but now that I’ve got it started, I really want to keep going with it and see it through an entire year.

The cost is $3 a month, or sign up for a whole year for $30 (thus getting two months free).  Now, I know that a person can track receipts easily enough on a spreadsheet program.  Fine.  But can a spreadsheet do all the fancy tagging and categorizing and comparing categories between months like Pear Budget can?  Well, honestly, I have no idea.  I’m a computer dunce.  Maybe it can.  But Pear Budget already figured it all out for you, so you can continue to be a computer dunce and just focus on keeping track of your family’s finances!

And, if you have problems, Charlie will help you.  Charlie is awesome!  You email him for help, and he actually emails you back right away!  It’s one guy!  It’s a family-operated business, so they really care about customer service, even about computer illiterate customers like myself.  (Hi, Charlie!)

I love it. 🙂  In fact, I should go catch up on my receipts right now so I don’t get behind…

Give it a try!   http://www.pearbudget.com/

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One thought on “the wonderfulness of tracking your expenses

  1. Hi there, Emily! I’m so sorry I’ve taken this long to say hi back. I read your post when you first published it, and have been meaning to write ever since then.

    I’m so, so glad that PearBudget’s been helpful, and I’m so grateful for your kind words about it.

    Thank you again, and I hope you have a fantastic rest of the year!

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