Once upon a time, when we first got married, I used Quicken to track our expenses.
My parents used a paper based binder system for tracking their expenses which they inherited in turn from my material grandparents (said binder still exists at my parent's house, with expenses entered up to February of last year). It is one of the memories I have of them, sitting at the table at least once a month going over the entries (the other memory I have is my father bringing out the shoeboxes of receipts on an annual basis and muttering something about "taxes", which I scarcely understood for many years).
But it became our responsibility in turn, and so getting our fancy new Macintosh in the early 1990's I started entering them in.
It became pain, of course. I was not terribly well versed in finance and had to teach myself as I went. We also lacked the ability we have now to electronically look up (and download) our statements and so painful hours were spent combing through bank statements and card statements to try to capture everything. And statements for retirement accounts, when I got them, were even worse: not only did I not know how to enter the principal, how did one enter the "gains"?
But in spite of all my trials and travails, most things worked their way into the sheet and over time, we built up a record of expenses and a Net Worth.
Oh, how I loved that Net Worth. I would look at it as it slowly grew, so very proud of ourselves. I liked charts and historical graphs and there it was, in loved colored bar chart form. Graphs and reports, I thought, were great.
And then - like it always does - things changed. In our case three things: The Firm, Hammerfall, and our computer.
The first two - although financially a bit devastating - were pretty clear cut: The Firm crashed our ongoing finances, and Hammerfall precipitated the loss of our home equity. Tracking your Net Worth is magically a great deal less fun when everything is going down. And the computer - well, when the computer got changed, we needed to change our version of Quicken and port it over, which never seemed to be important enough to get done.
We have adapted in the years since then, and use much less glamorous tools. Our spending plan is a spreadsheet with income in two columns and spend for each category deducted in an adjoining column. Our assets sheet is a simple two page spreadsheet (no glorious colors or reports) that tracks everything on a monthly basis.
We have a pretty simple division of duties at this point. The Ravishing Mrs. TB handles the monthly expenses, I handle the assets. Instead of spending hours coaxing information from the reports, I spend about 30 minutes once a month updating everything. Oddly enough, everything outputs just as nicely as it did. Yes, we do lose some granularity as to what spending went into what categories, but I find I am less concerned about the particulars, only the overarching whole (and to be fair, one can always look that up on-line as well).
The cost of such tools, as you might imagine, is greatly reduced from the original cost of Quicken or the now ubiquitous month subscription charge for such things. I run LibreOffice and so the cost to me is only my time; The Ravishing Mrs. TB uses the Excel that came with her computer so again, the cost has effectively amortized away. It is interesting to me that over time, the cost of a specialized program has become reduced to almost nothing, if it will serve your purpose.
Every now and again I think about those old Quicken sheets. I still have the information, stored away in my portable digital archive (which all fits on a memory stick, another poignant reminder of the times and technology). But even if I wanted to, I do not think I could get at it now as that operating system is long gone.
Which is, I suppose, okay. I can always just make a graph if I need one.