A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

I’m not a slob, but I’m definitely not obsessive-compulsive either. Every so often I’ll get the urge to clean my room or organize my desk, and even though I tell myself that I’m going to keep it neat and organized, after a few days it starts getting messy again. Even so, I feel good when I finish cleaning something.

The same goes for my finances, meager as they may be for this grad student. Not only do I want to make sure that there are no erroneous charges on my credit card (I have discovered overcharges by merchants in the past by comparing receipts to statements), but I like to have a good picture of what percentage of my income is going to food, entertainment, rent, or whatever else. I don’t make a budget to live by, but I like to take a birds-eye look at where and how I’m spending my money, and make adjustments in my spending habits if necessary.

When I got to grad school I started keeping track of my finances by using Quicken, but then when my laptop’s hard drive crashed in 2008, I lost all that data. Eventually I decided to resume using Quicken at the beginning of 2010, but with the craziness of moving, going to Australia, and moving again last summer, I stopped keeping track of everything back in late July. As the receipts and statements kept piling up, I dreaded more and more how big a job it would be to catch up. I knew I ought to do it, though, especially since I’m curious how my spending habits have changed since I moved to Colorado.

Finally in the last few days I decided to sit down and just do it. As with any big project, getting started is usually the biggest obstacle. Once I got started it wasn’t too bad, though. It took several hours of work, but as of today I’m now completely caught up, and everything’s been reconciled. As a result this afternoon I was finally able to throw away stacks of old receipts (hence it becomes part of spring cleaning). Now if only I could make a habit of keeping up with this every couple days, or weekly at worst, it would minimize the effort of keeping up to date… Anyway, now it’s time to have some fun with Quicken charts!

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