• Posts Tagged ‘software’

    Hello WordPress, Goodbye Movable Type

    by  • September 12, 2011 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This past month I’ve worked to transfer the blog over from Moveable Type to WordPress. The process was a little difficult, but I think I’ve managed to smooth out most of the bugs. I’ve already noticed that the site is slow compared with how it was, but I’ll continue to fix that. Let me know of ¬†any weirdness in the comments.

    Anyway, we’re still alive. We’ve got some news that we’ve been wanting to share. Anyone still reading? Say hi in the comments!

    Thank Goodness for Personal Finance Software (But We Still Need to Be More Organized)

    by  • April 2, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    We’ve said in the past that we’re users of Microsoft Money to manage our day-to-day personal finances. We love how it receives automatic updates for most of our accounts’ activities. We use it to keep track of where our money goes and serves as our electronic checkbook ledger.

    Another useful tool of Money is their Bills Insights – it keeps a list of our monthly bills, when they are due, and approximately (or exactly) how much is due on them each month. I’ll usually check this once or twice a week to keep me abreast of what’s coming to gauge our cash flow. More importantly, it allows me to check if a bill hasn’t arrived in the mail that should have.

    Late last week, I checked out the status of our bills on Money, and I noticed that one bill that was only 2 days before its due date. It was the credit card that allowed us to put $11,000 in student loans on it at 1.9% for life, of course on the condition that we make all of our payments on time. There was no way that a regular online payment would have posted before the due date, so we opted to use the over the phone payment. We had to eat a $15 surcharge for the privilege (read:stupidity) of being able to make a same day payment over the phone.

    As Her stated so nicely a few weeks back: it’s easy to just coast and let everything take care of itself, but it can lead to bad things. We eventually found the bill in a neglected corner of our house. We learned a good lesson: it pays (literally) to be more organized so that important stuff doesn’t fall through the cracks. But it is also good to have some built-in checks to make sure that a missed payment doesn’t happen.

    Anyone Use Microsoft Money Plus (2008)?

    by  • November 2, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    microsoftatm.jpg
    photo: ifranz

    We’ve been using Microsoft Money quite diligently for the last six months and have been pleased so far by what it has to offer. So this week we “upgraded” our copy of Microsoft Money 2005 to the new Microsoft Money Plus — and by upgraded, we mean had to buy the new version because automatic updates stopped working.

    So far, we haven’t come across anything heinously wrong with the program. Right now we’re just using it to keep track of purchases, budget, and track investments. Everything still works, and all is right with the world.

    I can’t help but think that I can be using it in more efficient ways. I’m feel like the black sheep of personal finance blogs for using Microsoft Money; everyone else is loyally devoted to Quicken. In fact, it seems like the entire intarwebs is devoted to Quicken, with forums, websites, and shrines dedicated to keeping the Quicken gods happy.

    Anyone aware of any Microsoft Money forums or websites or shrines? Anyone have any random tips for using Microsoft Money?

    Divided Household – Working Out A Serious Problem

    by  • January 23, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    When I first met Her, we both used the 1040-EZ form to do our taxes. We didn’t make a lot of money, so that was the easy way.

    Then we started to make a little more money. Taxes were becoming…computerized. Since at that point in our lives we weren’t ready to combine our finances, we diverged when it came to picking which tax software we used.

    She picked Turbo Tax.

    I picked Tax Cut.

    For years we did our taxes as separate entities, not foreseeing the impossibly great implications this may have meant down the road.

    Yes, Turbo Tax is looks more polished, but in the past there were reports that there was spyware attached to the program. Tax Cut does look like a Windows 95 program, and is sponsored by H&R Block, a company that we would never want anything to do with.

    Someone please explain to me: Why is Turbo Tax Federal + State always more expensive than Tax Cut Federal + State?

    Please help is in our time of need. We need to pick one tax program. For the sake of our relationship.

    Debtfolio Alpha: Debt Management 2.0 – First Look

    by  • November 13, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    debtfoliologo.jpg

    A few weeks ago we got an email from Peter Glyman, co-founder of Debtfolio.com, asking us to check out his new service. The Millionaire Artist already posted about it, and not only that, she actually met the co-founders! Since all of the cool kids are doing it, and registration is open to everyone, we thought we’d review their site in some detail. A simple caveat before you read further: their site is in the alpha stages of production, so I already know that it’s going to be rough around the edges.

    All of the images below are thumbnails. Please click on them to open the larger sizes in a new pop-up window. Yes, pop-up window, so please allow pop-ups for our site. Thanks.

    First things first, registration.

    Straightforward? Sure, to experienced internet users. Please, please, let the user know which fields are required. I’m looking at you, “referral code.”

    Next you’re asked to choose between their two products: a credit card debt analyzer and a credit card chooser.

    The credit card chooser is exactly that – a place to choose from different credit cards. Pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t take the time to review it.

    The most interesting part of Debtfolio is the credit card debt analyzer.

    Here’s the tour. Match the numbers in the full-size to the numbers below.

    1. It seems like this site looks to grow to be able to track all of your debt. Only credit card debt can be analyzed at this time.

    2. These cards can be dragged to area #4 to see how having a card with 0% APR effects the debt repayment schedule. You’ll see what I mean.

    3. This area is where all of your current credit card information is entered.

    4. In this area you can change the payment schedule by either inputting a one-time lump sum payment, or by allocating an amount to be paid each month.

    5. These boxes tell you how much the modifications in payment effects your payment schedule.

    6. As you add credit cards and change your data, you’ll see changes on this graph.

    Ah, it’ll be easier if I take you through the process…

    First, I add my credit card info…

    Oh nos! A glitch!

    “Monthly payment should minium 2%” Uh, grammar police anyone? Minium? Do you mean alu-minium? Condo-minium?

    Also, what’s with my minimum payment having to be >2%?!? For some reason CitiBank’s minimum payment is less than that. Oh well, I guess I have to put 2% as my minimum payment…

    Finally, I got my card added. Apparently Debtfolio assigns a rating to credit cards, up to a maximum of 5 stars. This particular card only got three stars. You see on the right the graph is all filled in, letting me know that if I only pay the minimum amount on this card, it will take until July 2014 and cost $5,193. That sucks.

    This is the part that makes this service shine. You can see everything you need to know about your credit card debt. Nicely done.

    Let’s add the rest of our cards with balances…

    Holy crap, if we pay only the minimum, we will pay off the debt in…THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES TO PAY OFF ONE?!?!? That’s weird. But it’ll cost us a buttload more, to the tune of a total of $13,835, or $1,612 in extra interest. It would be pretty useful if we could see how much extra on top of the total debt we would be paying. I know, I know, I can just subtract the total cost from the total current debt balance, but I’m lazy. And this is the interweb – I shouldn’t have to think!

    Let’s see what happens if I made a one time payment of $3,000 to our debt…

    According to the analyzer, we would save $726 and pay off our debt 10 months sooner, with a final payment date of September 2013. The graph now includes a green line beside the original blue line that tracks the new payment schedule. Nifty.

    I wonder what would happen if we decided to pay $700 each month (which non-coincidentally, we’re doing now)…

    WOW. Doing that saves us $1,142 and pays off our debt 77 months sooner, with the final payment date of February 2008. But wait, is that $700 in addition to the minimum payment, or is it just a total of $700 a month? There’s no clear indication, but it seems that it is the former and not the latter, so in essence this program does the debt snowballing for you. Some clarification would be nice.

    The last thing that I’d love to show you is how you take a 0.0% APR card from the top (#2), and put it in the “Work the Numbers Box” (#4), and see how the numbers and graph change. Unless you watch their informational video, that feature isn’t that obvious. Well, in order to get a nicer screenshot without the blurry text that says “Drag card here to save” (which is a bug), I closed my browser hoping to just log back in. When I logged on, lo and behold, NONE OF MY INFORMATION WAS SAVED. WTF?!? What was the point of registering?

    Okay, this was longer that I expected. To wrap up:

    Pros:
    - Easy interface
    - Great visualization tools
    - Good way to see the impact of extra payments

    Cons:
    - Minor technical glitches
    - Can’t save your information
    - Only does credit card debt

    The one thing that I disagree with this product is the promotion of credit card use. Yes, 0.0% APR balance transfers are a good tool to use to fight credit card debt, but this may be too great of temptation to some. Also, not all of the credit cards offered are ones that would necessarily help out. I understand that these guys need to get revenue somehow, and is apparent by their splash screen asking you to choose between the analyzer or the credit card picker, but in the end it almost seems like a conflict of interest.

    This product has great potential. I would love to see them activate the other options – especially the student loan analyzer. I wish them luck and will keep you updated when the beta version arrives.