On GearFire, I write about productivity and time management. If the adage “time is money” is true, then students need to manage their money too. Enter ClearCheckbook, a free Web 2.0 application for personal finance.
ClearCheckbook runs under the slogan “money management made easy” and I can wholeheartedly agree having used it for the last six months. Registration is simple, requiring only your e-mail and desired username and password. Upon registration you are presented with a step-by-step walkthrough of how to setup ClearCheckbook.
Step 1: Creating your Accounts
Account Name: Give your account a descriptive name.
Account Type: Is it Cash, Checking, Savings, or a Credit Card?
Active: Are you using it right now? If not, unchecking the box will hide the account until you need again.
Step 2: Manage Your Categories
When creating categories, I recommend subcategories to allow for detailed tracking of your spending habits. This stems from my adoption of the methodology in Your Money or Your Life. It is a personal finance book that comes highly recommended from tier-one bloggers.
Step 3: Manage Your Initial Balances
Amount: Enter the current balance of the account.
Description: Enter something appropriate.
Transaction: Initial balance.
Account: Do an initial balance for each of your accounts.
Category: You don’t need to categorize the initial balance.
After you have finished setup, you can click on the “summary” to go to your home page (seen below).
Step 4: Record your transactions
You are now ready to record your daily transactions. For example, you buy a DVD for $20 in cash.
Splitting a Transaction
Let’s say you order multiple items from Amazon on your credit card. ClearCheckbook let’s you subdivide the main transaction (seen below).
Balancing your Accounts
Forget whether your cheque has cleared? Worried about credit card fraud? ClearCheckbook uses “jiving” to easily balance your books. Each transaction has a checkmark beside it. You can confirm all your transactions by “jiving” them. For example, you go to your online banking and see the Amazon order on your credit card statement. In ClearCheckbook, you click “un-jived” in view options. “Jive” the Amazon order by clicking on the checkmark beside it (seen below).
Paying Off Your Credit Card
You can view your spending habits by clicking on “reports” at the top of the page. ClearCheckbook provides pie charts and bar charts.
ClearCheckbook can send you reminders of payments or automatically create recurring transactions. You can access this by clicking “tools” at the top of the page.
Budgeting/Monthly Spending Limits
Also found under the “tools” page, it is a set-it-and-forget-it way to start budgeting.
ScratchPad: A text page for recording notes (e.g. use it as a wishlist).
Quicken Support: Import and export Quicken files.
Checkbot: Record your transactions using instant messaging or SMS on your cell phone.
If you’ve made it through this post, I’m sure you’ll find that ClearCheckbook is a powerful, intuitive, and free way to manage your finances. I know I have.