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Most personal budgeting advice seems to be close but not exact.

Budgeting tends to be monthly. Transactions are often bi-weekly, every 30 days, every three months. If paid bi-weekly, some months have three pay days. Income and expenses occur throughout the month.

A credit-card purchase is money spent today but paid a month later (assuming paid in full).

I want an exact to-the-day, to-the-penny budget and forecast.

Rather than throwing an extra $50 toward a loan repayment, how much extra can I afford to pay (to the penny)?

The budget would have these requirements:

  • Daily to-the-penny projected balance of each account
  • Pay bills and debts never letting my bank balance drop below $750
  • Make extra payments with all available money
  • How much money to-the-penny can I afford to spend today?

What software do you recommend to achieve this? Most software I've tried falls short in one of these areas (especially locking budgets into monthly only).

  • 6
    To-the-day to-the-penny forecasting assumes that you can predict to-the-penny and to-the-day what your expenses will be. You can't possibly predict to the penny how much you will need to spend to fill your car with gas next week. And if you can't predict it then no piece of software can. – DJClayworth May 3 '12 at 14:40
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I've tried Mint, and I've tried Quicken. Now, I think Quicken is an annoying, crashy little piece of software, but it is also quite capable; overall I think it has the features you want. You can enter your bills, broken down by category, in advance. You can enter your paychecks, broken down by category (gross income, federal income tax, state income tax, social security, SDI, transfers to tax-protected 401(k) account, etc) in advance. You can enter in your stock trades and it can tell you how much you'll need to end up paying in capital gains taxes. You can even enter in your stock option vesting schedule in advance (it's a royal pain because you can't go back and change anything without deleting everything, but you can do it). It'll forecast your bank account balance in all of your bank accounts in advance with a shiny chart. It'll even model your loans, if you set it up right.

I didn't do too much with the "budgeting" tools per se, but the account-balances-daily features sound like the closest thing to what you're looking for that's likely to exist.

The only thing that's a trifle tricky is that transfers from one account to another may take multiple days (hello, ACH) and you'll have to decide whether to record them at departure or arrival.

  • +1 - I use Quicken, but I don't use it as much as fennec does. I don't have any problems with crashing, but I read quite a bit about it. It seems to be a gamble if the software works for you or not. But the features are there. – MrChrister May 3 '12 at 15:34
  • Thanks, fennec. I'll try Quicken. They have a 60-day return policy. If it doesn't work, I'll return it and try another (or create my own in Excel or something). – Steven May 3 '12 at 17:01
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I really don't know about will it help you, but here is what I do:

  1. Write all calculations I need in Numeric Notes (http://itunes.apple.com/kz/app/numeric-notes/id464069442?l=ru&ls=1&mt=12)
  2. If I need to see how it should affect future, just select needed calculations, paste it somewhere, and made modifications.

It is not classic solution, but maybe it will work for you (works for me very well).

  • Thanks for the suggestion JamesK. If Quicken doesn't do the trick for me, I'll look into Numeric Notes (or a Windows equivalent). – Steven May 3 '12 at 17:02

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