Friday, October 31, 2008

Number Crunching 133

Quicken Cash Flow = 594.88
STEF Total = 320.69

October Budget Meeting

Reconciling Quicken with bank statements: Woosh, everything balances. And I have money left over this month. *Boggled*

Reconciling last month’s budget: Why this section took so damn long, has gotten it’s own section down at the bottom of the post. See “The Saga of Balancing GFD zero-balance spreadsheet and the Monthly Tabulation spreadsheet” or skip it. I have to write this stuff down, otherwise I don’t find the problems and I keep making the same stupid math mistakes.
  1. Problem categories:
    • Bank charges – it really wasn’t my fault, but I want this to go away.
    • Eating out – did too much of it, per usual when I get stressed.
  2. Did-good-with categories:
    • STEF – got a good boost. I hope I can keep it up.
  3. Verdict: I’m not going to beat myself up over this month. I have ended with a positive balance.

Leftover amount = 197.25

Creating next month’s budget: Yes, everything balances out in the GFD zero-balance budget without going negative. I LOVE seeing that.

How much cash can I have: I’m wondering if I’m going about my cash expenditures the wrong way. They tend to be whatever is leftover after bills. I’m not going to change that this month, but note it to remember it for December.

Automatic payments: I always wondered what I was supposed to do with this section. Well, now I think I have figured it out after the snafus with Liberty Mutual and GMAC.

October 27th Notes: ARGH! Okay, now I understand WHY so many people bitch about GMAC. They don’t tell me to turn off automatic payments so there’s the October 1st goof-up. They tell me to do a stop payment. My credit union doesn’t tell me to cancel the stop payment when I want to pay GMAC again, so the payment I made October 11th was also stopped. Find out about it today, from a letter GMAC mailed out October 20th, because I was ignoring the harassing phone calls that I’m getting because I’m in default despite being in a repayment plan to fix said default. So I missed the phone call asking what’s up with October 11th. I THINK everything is fixed now, but I still had to redo the stupid repayment thing for the third time and I’m waiting for notification from the credit union that the stopped payment is canceled.

Yeah, that was loads of fun. So now I need to set up the bill payer feature available from my credit union. And then make sure that my paycheck didn’t shift, but if it did make changes so I don’t go past due. I found a calendar feature in Quicken that will make that an easy check.

Totals for the Monthly Tabulation and End-of-Month Balancing Sheet: After much tribulation, I got the Monthly Tabulation for October finished. I marked twelve categories as needed to be reduced. But I think what I’m going to concentrate on reducing is the unnecessary bank fees.

Now I’m going to work the End-of-the-Month Balancing Sheet, and hopefully it will go easier than September and the Tabulation did.

*Pulls out hair* Okay none of the numbers on it make sense or match with what is actually in my accounts. That’s it.

I admit it’s been a while since I cracked open Your Money or Your Life, so I think these are my true feelings without me masking them with “no, you must give it a chance. Change is good.” Change is good. And I like how their ideas make me calculate my real hourly wage, calculate how much life force I’m spending on stuff, how to question if my spending reflects who I really am, and eventually track it so spending becomes thoughtful instead of thoughtless. I’m totally on board with that.

But I hate their spending tracker and I hate their end of the month tally sheet. Every time I get stuck working the budget math it’s on those exercises. Enough is enough. I’m transferring the parts I like the GTD zero-balanced budget sheets, and only using it from now on.

Reviewing short-term savings goals: Still saving up for the $2202 STEF goal. Have $1881.31 to go.

Update NetworthIQ statements: Most of my paperwork for doing this is at home, so this is my reminder to update once I get home.

Update NCN Savings Chart:

Overview and plans:
  1. Printout the GFD zero-balanced spreadsheet each week I update.
  2. Reduce bank charges.
  3. Stay on top of budget work.

The Saga of Balancing GFD zero-balance spreadsheet and the Monthly Tabulation spreadsheet

WOW! I actually got the two of them to agree with each other. And now they don’t match Quicken. *Headdesk*

Each should show I have $196.53 leftover this month, which is what Quicken and my online accounts agree upon. Instead they show I have $892.63 leftover. Didn’t they just balance last week?! What gives?

November 5th Notes: I am signing off on this budget review even if it kills me (which given how my brain feels today is a possibility). I doubt today is the best day to try to wrap my head around math, but I have to finish it! And figure out what the hell went screwy in a week.

To that end, I will have to start keeping weekly printouts as I tweak the Excel spreadsheets. It’s the only way to see difference between the two. Because if I got it to balance with Quicken last week, by the end of this week it should not have $695.38 discrepancy.

Meanwhile, to the problem. Leftover amount for the month should equal the balance in my checking accounts and the cash I have on hand. On October 31st that was $181.53 in checking and $15.72 in cash equals $197.25. (Savings is dollars already allocated, so they don’t figure into the leftover amount.) Quicken and my online statements both agree on this amount.

Enter all income received and expenses spent into the spreadsheets. Subtract expenses from income. Both spreadsheets come up with $892.63 as the remaining money leftover. Here’s the kicker: I use Quicken reports to get the numbers I put in the spreadsheets. Even though I don’t think I missed anything in the spreadsheets, I go back and double check it against Quicken’s Itemized Categories for October.

All the categories totals match the same categories on the spreadsheet. So I didn’t miss filling out a category. Checked the register report from Quicken. No $695.38 entry. *Headdesk*

Okay, new strategy. The Monthly Tabulation is broken down by the week, because it was taking too long to put a whole month in by itself. So now, I’m going to look at each week in isolation from the others and see what the numbers do then. Took a little more math than expected because I had to figure out what the amount would be for each week starting at zero, instead of having a running balance.

Week 1 (Oct. 1st – 3rd) = spreadsheet and figures don’t match. Realize I forgot about the second checking account, which had a negative balance at the time. Tweaked for that and numbers still don’t match. Tweak again and it still doesn’t match, but only off by $5.22 now. Find register reports to go over each of the entries. Find I have to adjust the balance I am expecting because of forgetting things like interest and the stop payment fee transaction that was done through my savings account. I didn’t miss anything and the spreadsheet shows an extra $8.27 spent. *Headdesk Income is right. *Blink Expenses from my tally comes up $7.86 under the spreadsheet’s total. How is that possible? FOUND IT! Keypunch data entry error. Stupid me put down $7.86 in a square where a SUM formula should be. Now Week 1 is in balance and I made the correction on the official full month sheet.

Week 2 (Oct. 4th – 10th) = there is only a discrepancy of $1.64 between the two totals. Hopefully this won’t take forever to track down. But first a break to get some chocolate that I don’t need but badly crave. It’s partial stress eating, partial reward eating. Both bad for me, but DAMNIT, I’m doing the math instead of writing what more do you want!

Okay had chocolate and a new chapter of Tin Man smut to read, I’m calmer now. And my calculations are off by $6.44. Income tally matches, so does this mean I keep making goofy mistakes with my expenses? I guess that is a yes, since my expense tally is $460.20 off from the spreadsheet’s total. *Hits forehead I forgot my deductions. Added those in and it’s only $4.87 difference between them now. Okay, forgot the interest parts of two paid off loans. Now the expense tallies both match, and I think I need to redo the balance I was expecting to find. I’m so bleeding close I can taste it.

Okay, now the discrepancy is $6.44. Alright, after much number crunching and searching, I realize where one issue is, I messed up how the Pelican Loan payoff amount was put in. I have the interest portion coming out of my pocket when it was paid off by the amount given when I redid the loans. Now I’m off to test if this fixes things. Okay expenses match now, but I still have the slight issue of the totals not matching. I calculate I should be left with $418.80 this week and the spreadsheet comes up with $421.79, which is a difference of $2.99 ARGH, now that would be an amount of the car loan’s interest! Okay, take out that because the bank paid it and I didn’t. Achieved balance. Cut and pasted to the original month’s spreadsheet.

Week 3 (Oct. 11th – 17th) = oh that is really just not right. My calculations say there should be $121.44 leftover. The spreadsheet says $808.58 for a difference of $687.14. I wonder if trying to balance the federal budget started off like this and just snowballed. First thing, check my tally. Okay, it came out the same. Onto the income check. Income works out fine. I’m trying to take heart that I don’t screw up that side of the equation.

Expense check: Well, I found the problem. I’m missing $720.36 from that side of the equation. Time to find out what was entered and what wasn’t. Oh I am the BIGGEST IDIOT in the world! I can’t add an amount taken out of savings in the income section and subtract it from the expense section. Goober, just subtract the amount that was moved into the second savings account.

Well, fixing that brought things down a whole lot, but now it’s under what I had tallied by $82.62.

I really, really, really, really hate that Capital One account. Veterans Day I need to go find out what happened to the check that never cleared so I can close the damn headache and not worry about it anymore.

Okay, I have expenses balanced now. So I think where I screwed up was in my tally. Since I paid off Capital One’s negative balance during this week I put it down for zero. How ever if I change that back to the negative amount? $38.82, and balance. Posted to the original monthly balance sheet. Its leftover balance has dropped significantly, but I still have to go over it once I have all the weeks finished.

Week 4 (Oct. 18th – 24th) = after the last week, this one isn’t too bad. Spreadsheet has $472.85 and I came up with $457.27, a difference of only $15.58. Check my tally. Tally appears to be right. Check income. Income matches. Now to check the expenses. Left off one expense, and fixing that made the week fall in line.

Week 5 (Oct. 25th – Oct. 31st) = the expense from the week before got added to this week took that out and everything balanced.

Once I moved Week 5 back over, I’m ready to deal with the whole month again. Now it says the leftover amount is $110.42. My tally says it should be $197.25. The first issue I found was I forgot to move the fixed Week 1 to the full month. Replace that data, and I get $114.63 leftover, giving me a difference of $82.62. I hate Capital One! Back to the categories to double check that I have the proper totals.

*Headdesk* You can’t put two negatives in. You can’t put two negative in. You can’t put two negatives in. I don’t plan on having a negative balance ever again so hopefully it will NEVER happen again. I’m fairly certain that’s what has happened in the GFD zero-balanced spreadsheet too, along with the minor problems in the categories that I mentioned above.

HUZZAH! HUZZAH! It finally balances! They all finally balance! Everything balances together! Snoopy dance, happy dance, dance of joy! Now I can finally FINISH the budget review!

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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