I am a chronicler of minutiae by nature. A few years ago, I started keeping track of every book I read, with the list arranged chronologically, and then rearranged at the end of year in order from best (Vanity Fair) to worst (Water for Elephants).
Somewhere among my possessions is a tattered piece of paper with the first names of every guy I’ve ever kissed (this one is purely chronological).
Quicken is perfect for people like me; I like to keep some record of my life, but journaling is time-consuming, labour-intensive and, frankly, embarrassing. I don’t necessarily need to filter and examine every aspect of my life, but I do want to look back and have some idea of what I’ve been up to.
The way it works isn’t terribly complicated: You enter your income and expenses into the program, slotting the latter under various preset categories (groceries, clothing, gifts given). You can also include notes that provide a bit more detail (“Cheetos,” “psychedelic dress,” “wooden jigsaw puzzle – mum’s birthday”). I like to be detailed, except when the charge is from CVS, because I can never remember what the hell I went in there for. I slot it under “grooming,” but it’s a guess.
The real magic (magic! my standards are low) comes once you’ve got a few months of expenses totted and jotted, which is when you can pull up all kinds of fancy charts. You can see your net worth rise and fall, you can break down all your spending by category, you can find out exactly how much money you’ve spent since the beginning of time (if the beginning of time coincides with your adoption of Quicken). You can compare income and expenses month by month, to make sure you are living within your means. Which bar is higher? By how much? Did the net worth dot go up or down this month? Try not to obsess.
This story was originally published by The Billfold.
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