Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gnu developments

On Saturday, I spent most of the day accounting for my money. Really, this is a poor start to a blog. To hear that I passed the better part of an afternoon crunching my banking data into expense report pie charts, one might think that I am fiscally intelligent and probably a nerd. The former is definitely not the case, the latter is debatable. Still. To quote my boss, "It is what it is."

Recently, I decided that I needed to contribute somehow to the financial management of our household. Given my knack for forgetting important deadlines, T pays all the joint bills. This leaves me feeling comforted (my credit score has gone up: thanks, T!) but also a bit imbecilic. So I decided recently that my job would be to enter all our spending data into a financial software program that we could track, and figure out how to save us some money.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, I finally finished that up, using an incredible program called Gnu Cash. It's an open-source software program that allows you to track all of your expenses, much like Quicken or Microsoft Money (I'm told), in different accounts and categories. Then, it shimmies up some reports for you, which is how I learned that all those coupons I've been religiously clipping on Sundays has brought down our average monthly grocery expense a whopping 15 dollars.

Having completed the task for our joint account, I ambitiously decided to tackle my personal checking account. Since I am always curious as to how my spending habits compare to those of my peers, I will gladly share a piece of the pie (charts) with you. Those precious dollar bills that remain after savings, rent, utilities, regular bills etc. can be roughly broken down into the following spending categories:

- Medical bills: 33% (!!!?!)
- Eating out: 25%
- Gas / Car repairs: 17%
- Big Brothers Big Sisters-related stuff: 6%
- Law School application stuff: 2%
- Miscellaneous crap: 17%

I need to stop getting sick because insurance clearly does not prevent one from spending hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars on medical expenses each year in copays, coinsurance, deductibles and prescription refills. Also, as one of these expensive doctors told me recently, I need to start paying more attention to what I eat, because those restaurant tabs add up to one big piece of pie.

On an entirely unrelated note, T and I took a Sunday drive today, in which we drove our street (Patterson Ave.) out of Richmond city limits, past Henrico, into Goochland, Fluvanna, Albemarle and (briefly) Cumberland Counties. Along the way, we passed through the town of Columbia, Virginia. It was a creepy little place with just a few rotting wooden buildings towering over the State Rte. 6 thoroughfare. We pulled off onto dusty roads that recalled both Deliverance and the dusty roads of Guatemala. The town, while desolate, was fascinating.

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