Abandon Your Shoebox
An essay describing the virtues of computer-based home accounting software.
BY STEPHEN G. ROQUEMORE
Some of you have simple finances--one checking account, possibly a savings account, a few bills every month. A checkbook and a shoebox full of receipts seem to cover your needs. Some of you have a complex financial structure, including retirement plans, insurance policies and and CDs. You need a couple of shoeboxes.
Both types of people can benefit by switching to software.
The major advantage of using any home-accounting program is that it forces you to think about your financial affairs. For its own benefit, and yours, the computer insists that you structure your budget and monitor your spending. You manage your money, instead of your money managing you.
A sophisticated home-accounting program tracks your cash flow, graphing income vs. expenses. It gives you instant access to your net worth, which is useful when applying for a loan and lets you analyze loans. You can compare savings plans in a similar fashion.
When tax time rolls around you have everything you need collected in one place. I used to spend several days doing my taxes by hand; now I whip out both Federal and State returns in about an hour's time!
After a while you'll notice that at every moment you have a solid feel for the state of your finances. You now control an important part of your life. Keep the shoebox if you want, but fill it with footwear.