Legolas! What do your expense-tracking eyes see?

Knowing where you are, an important part of knowing where to go

Legolas! What do your expense-tracking eyes see?

Life, the universe, and everything

In my last post, I wrote about what gives my life meaning, what meaning money has for me, and posed the question: How can money help me create my ideal life?

I started by thinking small, and defining my perfect day. It started with being woken up by Christina Ricci, and ended with snuggling with Christina Ricci, and in between there was some stuff about being creative, learning stuff, and not getting stuck in a routine.

Here’s the bullet-point from all that philosophizing:

Life is about not getting stuck in a rut, constantly learning, and becoming so interesting that people won’t just lend me their ears, they’ll give them to me.

And money is going to help me do that.

So let’s zoom out a little bit and look at what we want on a grander scale than day-to-day life. Let’s think about the future, and set some short to medium-term goals. Mine are, unsurprisingly, mostly about taking some personal finance baby-steps:

  1. Track my spending meticulously from the 1st of May until 31st of May.
  2. Use that tracking to set up a realistic monthly budget.
  3. Start an emergency fund.
  4. Buy a new car, as the current jalopy is showing its age.
  5. Save R30, 000 to go on holiday in Japan with in December 2015.

I’ll cover all of these goals over the course of the blog, but for now let’s focus on tracking my expenses like Legolas tracks Uruk-hai. Yeah, I went there.

The good old days included a lot of 2-minute noodles

I’ve lived on tight budgets before, most memorably when I first started working in advertising and was paid R4,500 a month. More recently though, I haven’t had to worry as much about budgeting as much as I did when I was younger. The reasons for this can be summed up as:

  1. I earn a good salary.
  2. I don’t have kids, pets, or other dependents.
  3. I have not as yet invested in property.
  4. I share rent, making it very reasonable.
  5. I don’t go clubbing more than twice a year.
  6. I hate malls.

So I have to learn how to track my expenses all over again. Fortunately, the world has moved on since 2004, and there are a number of useful tools that will help me see where I’m spending my money.

22seven

This website has gotten a lot of good press since it launched, and I’ve set up an account with them. It works by linking your various bank accounts and credit cards to your 22seven profile. You have to enter your bank details, but over the years, 22seven have proven to be a safe, secure bet. They’re owned by Old Mutual, so I guess they’ve got a lot to lose if they start handing our passwords out to villains.

22seven then very cleverly figures out what you’ve spent and what category that spending falls into. Rent, medical aid, entertainment and all that. It shows you this information in an easy-to-understand interface that visualizes your income and expenses nicely.

Paper and pen

When all else fails (my iPhone battery), I’ll go all old school with a tiny notebook and even tinier pencil.

Expense tracking! It’s the game the whole family can play (but don’t want to)

If you’re up for a challenge, why not sign up with 22seven, find a midget diary and make May your month of Monetary Monitoring, just like me.

Just write down every expense and income, including the date, figure, and short description.

I’ll be checking in every once in a while during the month with progress reports and angry rants about how expensive hipster coffee is.

Good luck!

People who Rock

Take Charge of Your Money TaxTim