Ever wondered why there’s so much debt?

I love this video—10 year old Holly explains where debt and money come from.

Please watch the video, I’d love to know your thoughts.

This is something that I’ve been getting more and more concerned about over the last couple of years: where does our money come from, why is there so much debt, why do prices just keep going up and up and up?

I can’t remember where I first came across the Positive Money campaign, but over the next month or two I’m going to take a closer look at what they’ve written and published. What I’ve read so far sounds promising.

I’ll report back…

Download Microsoft Money 2005 for free

ms-money-2005-02-homepage

NOTE ABOUT WINDOWS 10

Some users have posted saying that Microsoft Money 2005 doesn’t work with Windows 10 build 10240. It throws an error saying that “Money required Internet Explorer 6 to function properly. Please reinstall Internet Explorer 6 so these components can be added”.

There is a workaround for getting Microsoft Money 2005 to work with Windows 10. I’ve not tried it yet, but you can find out about it here:

It involves a registry change.


I’ve been using Microsoft Money to manage my personal finances (such as they are) since about 1996. Today I upgraded to the last version that was produced for the UK by Microsoft: Microsoft Money 2005 (version 14.0.120.1105); in contrast the US edition went on until version 17.

I used the 16-bit Microsoft Money version 3.0 for Windows 3.1 for about seven years, until I upgraded to Windows XP in 2003. I then moved to Money 2004 and had all but given up hope that I could obtain the last localised UK edition (2005) until I discovered this afternoon that Microsoft now make it available for free download (see below for links).

Import RBS transactions

I’m a Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) customer and they still make all my statements available for download in Microsoft Money format (.ofx) which I can then import and track, which is really helpful.

Bills and deposits

I’ve set up in Money all my regular bills and deposits (e.g. mortgage payment, direct debits, salary) and so I can see what bills are still to go out, and when I’m next due to be paid. It really keeps me on top of all our accounts; we currently have about 11 accounts including credit cards and the boys’ Rainbow Savings accounts.

Categories

One of the most useful functions I find is the ability to categorise payments and deposits which is great for setting a budget, and tracking just exactly where our money has gone.

This month, for example, I can see that we’ve spent £242.34 on food, £253.76 on fuel (!!) and withdrawn a total of £150 from cash machines (including supermarket cashback facilities).

I found the reports a little buggy in Money 2004, in 2005 they are much improved.

Upgrade

The upgrade I found painless. I backed-up my Money 2004 (.mny) file, uninstalled Money 2004 and installed Money 2005 its the default location. On the first run I opened my existing Money file which 2005 ably and promptly upgraded and I was good to go.

The competition

Since Microsoft have halted development I have been tempted to move to another application but to be honest, this does what I need it to, and I can’t really justify the expense or hassle of moving to another, unfamiliar application.

I tried a demo of Accountz. I uninstalled it within a couple of hours. Personal taste: I just didn’t like it. It didn’t feel as polished an application as even Money 3.0. I’m probably doing it a huge disservice, but it just wasn’t for me.

The only other option, really, is Quicken which looks great and there seems to be a version for just about everybody. Obviously, RBS also offer downloads in Quicken format so it could be a viable option. The most basic versions, Quicken Starter Edition 2012 costs US $29.99 (approx. £19.41), next up is Quicken Deluxe 2012 which costs a very reasonable US $59.99 (approx. GPB £38.85) but that’s thirty-eight quid that I don’t have at the moment.

Restore Microsoft Money online quotes

Dan Gaier is a former Microsoft Money developer who has written a tool—MSMoneyQuotes—that will update your quotes:

MSMoneyQuotes can open your Money file (including password protected ones), obtain the list of securities in your portfolio, make calls to MSN Money’s new quote services to fetch data for these securities, and update your Money file.

It follows nearly the same logic as the original Money code in terms of updating this information, and includes data such as last, change, open, high, low, 52 week high, 52 week low, PE, market cap and volume. It also handles pounds to pence price conversions for you UK users.

It can be run throughout the day, knows when to add vs. update an existing price entry, and can be run while you have Money open or closed.

Conclusion

I’m happy with Microsoft Money, I’ve been using for years, I’m familiar with it, I trust it and it really keeps me on top of my finances.

You can download the localised US and UK versions here:

Getting my head around our finances

British money

One of the reasons that I’ve not been blogging as much as I would have liked to these last few weeks is that I’ve been trying to get my head around our finances. It’s not been a particularly easy task, but it’s been very rewarding.

Like many people, I imagine, for many years I’ve had a rather unhealthy approach to managing my finances. It’s involved largely of two key components:

  1. Ignoring them
  2. Saying things like “We’ll be fine …!”

Microsoft Money

Because I’m a computery kind of a guy, I’ve been using Microsoft Money 2004 to manage the data about all of our accounts, transactions, withdrawals and deposits. It’s been laborious and time-consuming but well worth it. Our accounts in Microsoft Money go back to 1998, when I was a lowly theology student in Edinburgh.

I love how Microsoft Money allows me to run reports on existing transactions, set up ‘what if…’ scenarios and set budgets. It keeps me right. It’s just such a shame that

Discoveries

I’ve discovered all sorts of things like the house insurance we were paying for 3 years on a flat we no longer lived in! And the breakdown cover on the washing machine that went to the tip 6 months ago. Ahem!

I was amazed too at how many transactions I remembered making, even going back 5 or 6 years.

Here are a few totals that took me a little by surprise. This is table of the accumulated totals spent between 1998-2010 at the following stores:

Company Total
Argos £2,344.99
Boots £6,840.51
Co-op £18,108.47
DVLA £1,235.75
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op £1,448.07
Esso £5,877.91
HMV £2,019.22
Tesco £20,916.67

Graph

I love that we’ve spent more at the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative than paid car tax to the DVLA.

But those Tesco total and Co-op totals … that’s an awful lot of Clubcard and Dividend points.

The God who wasn’t there

Has anyone (who reads this blog) seen the movie The God Who Wasn’t There? And if so, what you thought of it?  I’m thinking about my Christmas list on Amazon and it’s a toss up between this and Trumpton – The Complete Collection.

Here’s the blurb on their website:

Bowling for Columbine did it to the gun culture.

Super Size Me did it to fast food.

Now The God Who Wasn’t There does it to religion.

The movie that has been astounding audiences in theaters around the world is now available on a high-quality, feature-packed DVD. Own the taboo-shattering documentary that Newsweek says “irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed.”

I did discover a website by GakuseiDon, who describes himself as “a moderate Christian” that examines the claims in film pointing out its inaccuracies.  That website alone makes for interesting reading without seeing the film.

Zeitgeist

Reminds me of part of the film Zeitgeist – The Movie. Now there’s a film with a few interesting things to say about money, given the current financial crisis.

Makes you wonder …