Time to bring some order in the flurry of expenses. Turns out that the uncool truth about a lot of things is that everything costs money. And if you’re like me where you don’t really care for money, you still need to recognise the usefulness of money.
So I care for money, but at the same time I don’t. That reads like a oxymoron but interpret that in the sense that I recognise the need for money and that I need enough of it so that I can live my life.
Up until recently I just had a loosely defined budget and didn’t track my money at all really. The basic idea was that I rented a house for a bunch of money and could make a trip to the ATM once a week to get cash which I’d then spent during the week. Things like food and such.
The weak point in that system is that I didn’t give much thought to going to the ATM. And because of that I didn’t exactly remember the last time. The result, I kept going to the ATM 2 or 3 times a week, resulting in me going over ‘budget’ and them some.
Over the past 2 months I sort of mapped that out to come to this unhappy conclusion. I backtracked all my bank transactions and credit card stuff for withdrawals. Which I then logged in a spreadsheet along with all other electronic payments. And things were good again. Balance seemed restored.
It still didn’t tell me what I’d actually spent the money on and that was fine. After all I still didn’t really care yet. I just needed to get my ATM usage under control. Reasoning that as long as I could monitor my trips to the ATM and limit it to once a week that way I would be fine.
A few weeks ago I sort of realised that my new and improved system wasn’t really working as I’d hoped. I had projected some savings for the last 6 months and that sort of didn’t happen. I lost track of spendings left and right and overall wasn’t very happy with my spendings but couldn’t quite put a finger on the problem.
A more detailed system was required to see where my money really went. How much I spent on what and why. I can’t really rely on my bank statements since the country is 99% cash only so it would only show ATM withdrawals and the occasional larger payment. Thus, 2 weeks ago I decided that I should get some software to fix it all.
The right tool
Finding a application to track money in a somewhat convenient way is probably the most tedious task. Trying various apps, going through reviews of others to try and make a decision. Wasting a lot of time in the process. I’m a sucker for a good UI so the program had to be pretty, too. Which made my search much more difficult.
Another big big feature I just had to have was synchronisation – If the app can not sync to my iPhone, iPad and desktop it was not worth it. Not to mention I have to be able to have accounts in different currencies and the program should be able to use that in a meaningful way.
Then I found an app called ‘Money Pro’.
It pretty much does exactly what I want in a way that I can somewhat comfortably use. It has a calendar view with day to day transactions. There is a category thing where you can enter where the money went, along with company/persons names. And it deals with multiple currencies and relevant exchange rates automatically. Neat.
As with any budget/money management tool you have to set up accounts and then keep a running total of stuff by entering all your expenses and income. I have a bunch of accounts for different money streams. So I went, again, through all transactions and logged everything of this month into the program. As much as I could find and remember anyway. The rest went into ‘Misc’.
Now at any moment, I can look at expense reports to see how poor I am making myself. This month isn’t too bad though. Still, I’m way over budget 🙁
I can access this information on my Desktop, iPhone and iPad. It synchronises automatically as long as I have internet. And that’s just cool.
This month is a awkward mess where ‘Misc’ gets abused a lot for backdating transactions. Obviously I can’t remember where I spent what for most cash payments. But next month onwards should give me a more clear picture of whats going on in and around my wallet.
The real budget
There still is no real budget for anything separate. But everything combined I want to keep it under 50000 PHP (~1000 EUR / ~800 USD) per month. Realistically it’ll probably be something like 65000 PHP a month. I guess we’ll see how that holds up over time.
The aim with all this is to be a bit more conscious about spendings and earnings. And of-course to go back to being a responsible digital nomad. Because I’m good at that. Really, I just need some guidance and oversight. I think I found both by using this money managing app.
However, at the same time I need to try and have more fun in my life… Which generally means to spend a little more money on stuff and activities. Or maybe learn how to enjoy myself without spending thousands of pesos on attractions and boat rides…
Oh well, we only live once I guess 😉