Complete personal finance type-in softwareBY J ROGER KEARNEY
Budget dB provides the kind of powerful, user-friendly personal finance help you'd expect from a commercial software product. This BASIC program makes it a lot easier to create and maintain an itemized budget with categories that you can change to fit your own needs. It also balances your checkbook and reconciles your credit accounts, even if you don't want to keep up a monthly budget. Budget dB works on Atari 8-bit computers with at least 48K memory and a disk drive.
One of the best ways to manage your money properly is to set up a budget and keep track of your spending. But for many of us, setting up a budget is a difficult process. Budget dB can't force you to live within a sensible budget. But this personal finance database program can do just about everything else you need for taking control of where your money goes. In fact, you can use most of Budget dB's features-such as balancing your checkbook-even if you don't wish to set up a monthly budget.
Budget dB tracks your actual spending, displays your monthly budget alongside your monthly expenses in spreadsheet format, and lets you define your own budget categories. Budget dB keeps your expense information in a database file that can be accessed in many useful ways. You can list all expenses in a category for checks that have not yet cleared the bank. You can select all payments made to a specific creditor, such as the phone company. Results of your database inquiries can be listed on the screen or printed out.
Budget dB keeps track of the balance in your checking account and tells you the next check number to be used. It can reconcile your checking account to your bank statement, and it also helps reconcile your credit card accounts. Budget dB can record the sales tax on each transaction and keep a running total for use in your income tax return.
Budget dB is written entirely in Atari BASIC. The program stores data in a compressed format to save space. It can store some 700 transactions in a 48K Atari system-more than enough for a year's worth of data for most people.
USING BUDGET dB
Type in Listing 1, BUDGETDB.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. At the beginning of each year, make yourself another working copy for the new year's data.
Antic Disk owners: Copy this program to another disk before you RUN it, because the monthly disk doesn't have enough room for the database file created by Budget dB.
When you RUN Budget dB it displays the date when the program was last used, and you are prompted to enter today's date. You can enter March 4,1986 as either 3/4/86 or 0 3/04/86. Then the program presents you with the main menu.
Budget dB's main menu lists eight functions.
1. Enter transactions
2. List transactions
3. List budget/actual
4. List miscellaneous information
5. Reconcile checkbook
6. Reconcile charge account
7. Set up data
8. Save on disk
It's a good idea to experiment with Budget dB before you set up your real budget. You can learn a lot about how Budget dB works by simply trying out all the functions.
SET UP DATA
Main menu selection 7, "Set up data," takes you to this sub-menu:
1. Set budget
2. Set check #
3. Name categories
4. Set balance = $
5. Clear all data
Option 3, "Name categories," allows up to 26 different categories (A-Z) in your budget. When you first set up the program, leave a few categories blank. After using Budget dB for awhile, you'll probably decide to add more categories.
Budget category names are up to six characters long and can be changed at any time. For example, if you want to change category B to stand for spending on books, choose the "Name categories" option and type B-BOOKS.
Credit card accounts such as VISA, MasterCard and department store accounts should be included as budget categories. These accounts could be grouped together and handled as a single credit category, but they're easier to track if you keep them separate. Budget dB will also help you reconcile your charge records to your monthly statement.
A 27th category - @- is used to report transactions at bank cash-dispensing machines where the money is withdrawn from your checking account. You can rename the category something like @ NOWCSH. But don't remove the @, and save this category only for bank terminal withdrawals. When you're through entering your category names, press [RETURN] to get back to the main menu.
When using the submenu's "Set budget" selection to enter budgeted dollar amounts, you can enter an amount to be repeated every month for a particular category, or you can type in different amounts each month. You can use the system for a few months without budget amounts filled in. Budget dB tracks your expenses and shows you how you're spending your money You can add or change budget amounts anytime.
"Set check #" is used for telling the program what check number is next in your checkbook. "Set balance= $" is where you enter the starting balance in your checking account or correct the balance.
When you choose selection 1 from the main menu, Budget dB displays your
budget categories, your checkbook balance and this sub-menu:
1. Check# (followed by your next check number)
2. Check# (you enter the check number)
6. Sv chg
Choose 5 to record a deposit, or 6 for a service charge to your checking account. Choose selection 1 if you are paying by check and the displayed check number is correct. Choose selection 2 for out-of-sequence checks. If you charged the purchase, choose 3, or if you paid cash, use 4. When asked for the date of the transaction, press [RETURN] if you want today's date. If you want a different date, type it as described previously.
If you want to keep a yearly total of sales taxes paid (for a deduction on your income tax return), enter the tax when prompted. Payee names (Fred's Grocery) can't be longer than eight characters and are different from category names such as F-FOOD.
If you use a bank terminal to withdraw money from your checking account, type 0 for the check number. Then for the budget category type @ (hold down the [SHIFT] key while pressing ).
Main menu selection 2 is used to "List transactions" entered earlier.
You are asked to choose one of the following:
1. Cleared checks
2. Uncleared checks
3. All checks
4. Cleared charges
5. Uncleared charges
6. All charges
7. Cash purchases
8. Selected from all types
9. All transactions
If you select 1-8, you will be asked to further specify which transactions you want Budget dB to search for. If a valid month number is not entered for the starting month, transactions for all months will be listed. If you want the transactions printed as well as displayed on the screen, answer Y when prompted and be certain the printer is ready.
Main menu selection 3, "List budget/actual," displays your budget and the actual amount of money you spent in each category. You are prompted to enter the number of the month you want displayed. Press [RETURN] to get the current month. The default category is A, but you can type in any category letter you wish.
Selection 4, "List miscellaneous information," displays the total sales tax you do not have to establish a budget at all to use Budget dB. The program will assume that your budget is zero. However, it will still track your actual expenditures. After reviewing the actual numbers for a few months, you will find it much easier to create a budget.
Keep your receipts in some convenient location-kitchen drawer, old shoebox, etc. Don't throw any receipts away. When you don't have a receipt for a purchase, make one by jotting down the amount, date and other details of the expenditure. This is particularly important for any charitable cash donations, so that you have a written record for income tax purposes. Once a week, sort all your new receipts into budget categories.
After you type the information into Budget dB, staple the week's receipts together and write the entry date on the back of the bundle. Put the receipts in a large envelope. This helps avoid entering the same transaction twice and also makes it easier to find a particular receipt later.
Put each year's data on a different disk and put each year's receipts into a new large envelope. Antic Publishing disclaims any responsibility for financial or other losses incurred through use of the Budget dB program.
J Roger Kearney lives in Troy, Ohio. He is writing a version of Budget dB for the Atari ST
Listing 1: BUDGETDB.BAS Download