Actions You Need to Perform Before Deploying Your Personal Finance Software Program for The First Time

Before deploying any personal finance or budget software program, you need to prepare.
There is nothing more frustrating than being in front of your computer and not really knowing what to do. And improvising won’t get you anywhere.
The best thing to do is to prepare in advance. Here are 10 actions you need to perform to be ready and do your budget in less than 20 minutes.


1 – List the Bank Accounts You Use in Your Daily Lives


  • What is the balance of those accounts
  • Do I use a debit card
  • Do I transfer money from one account to another
  • Do these accounts generate interests, etc.

2 – Identify Your Credit Cards


  • What are the credit cards balance
  • Have I set prepayment on those cards
  • When do I pay those cards
  • What are your credit limits
  • What is my interest rate, etc.

 3 – Identify Your Sources of Revenues


  • List all your revenue sources
    1. Fixed revenues : paycheque
    2. Variable sources : bonuses, expense reimbursements, rentals, dividends, garage sales, taxes, etc.
  • What is the frequency of those revenues: weekly, every two weeks, twice a month, etc.
  • In which account are those revenues deposited?
  • Consider all possible changes that can occur, like wage increases, overtime work, etc.

4 – Identify Your Fixed Expenses

  • Identify your fixed expenses like mortgage payments, renting fees, utility bills, insurance charges, car payments, etc.
  • What is the amount for those fixed payments?
  • What is the frequency of those payments, every month, year, week?
  • What bank account or credit cards do you use to pay those expenses?

5 – Identify Your Variable Expenses

  • Those expenses are harder to budget for because the amount and frequency are variable. For example, groceries, clothing, restaurants, gifts, gas, health care,
  • When do you usually pay for those bills?
  • Keep in mind the frequency could be different from one expense to another, so be careful,
  • What bank account or credit cards do you use to pay those expenses?
  • Do  you want to budget those expenses when they are supposed to happen or apportion them every month on a percentage basis?

6 – Identify Your Seasonal Expenses

Every season brings its specific expenses, especially when you live in the northern part of the US or in Canada. Refer to the #5 Variable Expenses Section for how to prepare.

Here is a list of which expenses you can expect for each season :

  • Summer : vacation, garden, summer camps (kids)
  • Autumn : school fees, school supplies, winter clothes
  • Winter : winter tires, snow clearing fees, activities for the kids (hockey, skating, skiing), Christmas shopping
  • Spring : Summer tires, house cleaning fees, etc

7 – Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

  • Yes, taxes. We all need to pay our share of taxes: income tax, property tax, school tax, sales tax, etc.
  • Those are paid at specific times during the year and depending on where you live, those expenses vary. So you need to prepare.

 8 – Identify Your Loans

Not all personal finance software lets you manage your loans (Budget Express does). But if you can get this information into your software, it would help paint the big picture of your personal finances.

  • Identify all your loans, even your mortgage,
  • What is the balance on those loans?
  • When do you reimburse those loans?
  • Which bank account is used?
  • What is the interest rate on those loans? Do I want to expense those interests?

9 – Identify Your Investments

Investing for your retirement or just to get your money working for you is a very important part of your finances. If you’re able to identify those investments and update the information regularly (dividends, interests), it will help when you will need to prepare a personal statement of your finances.

  • Identify all your investment (RRSP, TFSA, 401k, etc.),
  • What is the balance on those investments?
  • Do I still put money into them?
  • When do I put money?
  • From what account do I draw the money?
  • Are those investments paid out at a specific date?

10 – What Are the Main Objectives of Using a Personal Finance Software Program

This point could have been number one on the list. All software programs do not offer the same features. Some are more budget tools than personal finance software program. You need to know what your principal objectives are for the short and long terms before you purchase your software program.

Knowing if you are over or under budget as to be your main objective,  but do you also want to balance your bank accounts, your credit cards? Do you need to have a big picture of all your personal finances? Those are very different goals.

It is important to understand all the features in your software program, even if you don’t use them at the beginning, because your needs could evolve over time.

Réjean Campeau
Budget Express