Old Habits Die Hard
You simply cannot listen to or watch the Dave Ramsey show without encountering an ad for EveryDollar. Several years ago when it first came out, I was so excited to switch from the budget spreadsheets I created a long time ago based off of a zero-budgeting worksheet I found in one of Dave’s books (Total Money Makeover) to an online version of the zero-budget… but the functionality just wasn’t there for me. My little spreadsheet did more than the early versions of their program, so it actually cost me time to switch.
I don’t remember the name of the first version put out by Ramsey Solutions, but it’s come a long way since then, so I tried the free version again in September of 2016 when we joined the FPU class. Still, I just could not seem to make the switch from my spreadsheets to EveryDollar. I know this was largely due to the fact that I have been budgeting bi-weekly for about 15 years and EveryDollar is set up for monthly budgeting.
Periodically, I would gripe about how much I hated that my spreadsheets took so much time (especially when I accidentally broke something that took me hours to fix). At least once a year I would get so fed up and go on another hunt for a better budgeting tool only to return to my old method when I became frustrated.
Choosing to Jump Ship
So, it came as a shock to me last month when I decided to look into EveryDollar again. I thought, “Am I just a glutton for punishment? I just tried this thing (for the second time) a little over a year ago and didn’t even make it a week.”
This time though, I changed my mindset. I decided to focus on the goal of saving time, reliability, and streamlining my budget process as a whole. Instead of expecting EveryDollar to fit my customized view perfectly, I went in looking for ways it could improve how I do things, even if that meant I needed to change how I do things to take advantage of the benefits (less time, fewer glitches).
At first, I just watched a “how to” video on using the service. I’m definitely a visual learner because this made it seem so easy I actually got excited about budgeting again. Then, I scanned through some help questions to see what other information I could glean and before I knew it I was playing around with the application. Lastly, I looked for ways to manipulate it’s features to accommodate things that are important to me… like rolling over amounts from one month to the next.
Within a couple of hours I had what appeared to be a working budget for the upcoming month (February). My only goal was to get it set up early so I could have a trial run once the first check of the month arrived. The husband and I talked about subscribing to the Plus version and decided we would try it for the first 15 days (free trial). I’ll admit, I was very interested in being able to “drag and drop” transactions into my categories, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to pay for that feature.
In making the decision to give this an honest try, I knew I would have to completely jump ship and abandon my old spreadsheets if I had any hope of this working for me. I chose to take a leap.
All Systems Go!
On February 1st, I signed up for the free trial of EveryDollar Plus. I was so excited until I realized I only had one transaction to “drag and drop” into my brand spankin’ new February budget… We made four whole cents on our baby emergency fund – woohoo. Still, as advertised, it was easy to use.
The husband came up from his office an hour later eager to see it in action, but alas, there was nothing more to “watch” because it was done. He suggested he could run to the store really quickly and purchase something, to which I chuckled but thought, “Good heavens, we’re so excited about a shiny new toy we’ll consider spending money just to make it do something.” He did not go to the store.
It was difficult to keep myself from also updating my spreadsheet, but I refrained nonetheless. I did have to use the spreadsheet to complete my January budget and transfer updated amounts into the February EveryDollar Budget, but then I closed it without touching my February sheets.
The First Week
For the initial few days it really bothered me that the transactions were’t “real time” like my bank. It seems to take a few days for them to show up, and I’m not used to that. One week in, I’m still adjusting.
I do really like how easy it is to drag and drop transactions into the different categories. I also like the “split transaction” feature as this was something that wasn’t as automated in my spreadsheets. Something else I’ve noticed is how quickly I’m done. Before, it would take me about an hour to update my spreadsheet with the transactions (plus, I would end up playing with the numbers and moving stuff around). Now, it takes minutes. Drag, drop, done.
So, that’s where we are right now with making the switch to EveryDollar. I’ll update again at the end of the 15 day trial for the plus version.