Tag Archives: money
Peter Torelli had $2000 saved when he entered college. He knew that it wouldn’t last long, so he had to be careful about his spending. He switched to using a credit card in order to have a record of his purchases and reconciled his accounts every month. It became a habit that he kept for a long time. A really long time.
Peter now has 20 years of financial data, and the way he’s logged his data has followed larger technological trends. Starting with manually logging transactions in Quattro Pro and storing his data on floppy disks, his data now resides on Quicken’s servers. These changes have brought better security with better backups, but also uncertainty about the ownership of his data and lack of flexibility to move his information elsewhere because of proprietary data formats.
One of the surprising findings is how many memories flooded back when he reviewed past transactions. Both memories and transactions are tied to places. A simple line item can trigger a forgotten moment with an out-of-touch friend. When Peter’s spending trends are displayed on a multi-year timeline, it’s not just a representation of his finances, but the chapters of his life as well.
There are many more great insights from Peter’s talk at the Quantified Self San Francisco meetup in April:
Catha Mullen has a long history with tracking, primarily from her experience as an elite-level distance runner. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS Meetup, she describes how tracking and data analysis helped her understand and improve her financial health.
Yesterday was the first day in a month that I handled cash. For weeks everything I’ve purchased and paid for has been handled by digital means. Debit cards, direct debits and deposits, internet purchases – it’s all 1′s and 0′s flowing through the tubes, and it’s makes my life very easy. However, now that the flow of money in and out of my life is easier, I have to find new ways of being aware of what’s happening to the money. I’ve gathered up a few examples of QS projects, show&tell talks and articles related to money – please feel free to share your own favorites. -Ernesto
Amaan Penang: Making Data-Driven Financial Decisions
Amaan Penang was faced with a life change when he moved from Texas to California to start a new job. While preparing for the move he started to examine his financial health and was surprised by what he didn’t understand about his spending and income. Using the popular financial tracking software, Mint, he started to examine his historical spending. In this talk Amaaan explains what he learned and how he was surprised to find out how this data opened up the doors to exploration and better financial health.
Natty Hoffman: The Enlightened Consumer
Natty had a large amount of financial data, over 14 years of expenses and spending, that she was accessing from credit card and bank statements. Because of her work as a consultant she was experiences with understanding and reconciling her various accounts and reimbursements. It wasn’t until attending a QS meetup in Boston that she realized that there was more to her data than just historical financial documents,
“I didn’t really think much about this data until I went to a Quantified Self meetup a few months ago. And then I said to myself ‘You know, I have some pretty interesting data about myself as a consumer and I wonder what I’m going to find out.”
Natty started exploring her data by looking back at the last two years to better understand the where her money was going based on a broad categorization scheme. But, she didn’t stop there. She went on to explore exactly where she was spending her money and found that she was a customer of over 300 different businesses over the two years she examined. Intrigued by the the companies she frequented she went deeper and started to see how she did as a consumer and if her spending behavior matched her personal ideals.
Matic Bitenc: Manual Finance Tracking
Outside the US there aren’t many good options for automatically tracking personal finances. Matic and his partners created Toshl Finance, an application for manually tracking how he was spending his money. In this talk Matic describes what he learned about his expenses and lifestyle by using a simple tag-based system and easy to understand visualizations.
Examples of Personal Finance Tracking
Tracking, Classifying, and Comparing Expenses by Karsten W.
We featured this very interesting tracking project in 2012 when Karsten embarked on a experiment to track his spending via a simple Twitter tool. Not satisfied with just tracking, he also categorized and compared his spending habits to what a typical person in his country (Germany) spent in different categories.
How I track my personal finances and Keeping (financial) score with Ledger by Sacha Chua.
Two great posts by our QS Toronto co-organizer, Sacha Chua. In the first she describes how she sets up understanding her financial life, and in the second she describes her tracking methodology.
I Tracked Every Penny I Spent For One Year. Here’s What I Learnt by Todd Green.
As the title says, Todd tracked his spending for an entire year. In this post he describes the process and the top 10 lessons he learned.
Articles of Note:
The Quantified Self Movement Reaches Personal Finance
Key Quote: “Personal finance tools as they evolve will take this technology much farther. GPS-based navigational systems have both improved and become more ubiquitous as raw data have become more available and the cost for both devices and services has dropped. So too will personal finance apps begin to follow us around. They’ll live in our phones or on our wrists, pulling in real-time data to help us take control of our own short-term liquidity and solvency needs and long-term retirement goals.”
What Health and Finance Can Learn From the Quantified Self Movement and Each Other.
Key Quote: “Few domains of life are as quantified as your financial self — you have your credit score, savings and checking balances, 401Ks, stocks, bonds, funds and more aided by countless apps, reports and plans provided by banks, employers and financial advisors all available online, on the phone, in person and at your local ATM.”
Banking on you — how wearable tech could change finance.
Key Quote: “Historically, banks have been some of the richest repositories of data — but also the least likely to do something innovative with it. This is partly due to regulation, but mostly due to a self-limiting mindset prevailing in the banking industry. Till now, consumers have accepted this status quo, but not for much longer. As they find their ‘quantified selves’ no doubt their demand for insights into their finances will increase.”
Financial Wearables – Part 1: Can high-tech wearables solve underserved people’s financial problems?
Key Quote: “Managing money in cash is time consuming—time to get cash, calculate it, record your every transaction. Banks do most of those actions, but do not teach you how to spend better and save money at the same time. The potential power of wearables is not in presenting you with “transactional information” about how many steps you took on a given day, but rather in showing how you can improve those steps over time with alerts, recommendations and visual elements. Banks could use the “wearables” power to incentivize users to better their financial health, deliver liquidity management tools and foster strong banking relationships and maximizing customers’ assets instead of their fees. It not only helps individuals but the bank as well.”
YOUR MONEY-Financial obsessives track every penny, every minute
Key Quote: “Australian academics Ken Cheng and Megan Oaten of Sydney’s Macquarie University once had volunteers write down every single purchase for four months, which led to marked improvement in their financial lives. They also found that positive financial habits started bleeding into other areas, with the volunteers improving their behavior in everything from house cleaning to exercising.”
‘Quantified Self’ Movement Now Lets You Track Your Money Too
Key Quote: “Cozy Cloud co-founder Frank Rousseau was originally inspired to invent the self-hostable personal cloud platform because he wanted an open source alternative to Mint.com, he told us earlier this year. But the hard part is that most banks don’t provide APIs to help users get their data out of the banks, according to the project website. To do this, Open Bank Manager is relying on a tool called Weboob (WeB Outside Of Browser) to scape data from banking sites.”
ToolsNot a complete list, so please add more in the comments and we’ll update here
Money, by Jumsoft
Also make sure to check out the long list of personal finance apps people are talking about on Product Hunt
Why Wesabe failed: Marc Hedlund’s Challenge
An interesting look back at how another personal finance tool failed in the face of competition from Mint.
How can new interactions with digital money make us more aware of our spending? Chris Woebken talks about this design experiments here.
Amaan Penang was faced with a life change when he moved from Texas to California to start a new job. While preparing for the move he started to examine his financial health and was surprised by what he didn’t understand about his spending and income. Using the popular financial tracking software, Mint, he started to examine his historical spending. In this talk, presented at the Silicon Valley Quantified Self meetup group, Amaaan explains how he tracks his data, crunches the numbers, and finds “interesting patterns” in his data.
Natty Hoffman was interested in learning more about how she spent her money. Not satisfied with just categorizing expenses, she dove deeper into two years of transaction data to understand where here money was going and how well her spending habits reflected her ideals. In this talk, presented at the Boston QS Meetup group, Natty explains how she examined her spending data to see if she was supporting ethical, healthy, and local businesses.
Karsten W. is on an amazing journey towards understanding his personal finances. Thankfully for us he’s been writing about his methods and what he’s learned along the way over at his blog: FactBased. Let’s dive in!
Step 1. Track
Karsten decided to use twitter to track his expenses and supplement that data with his normal bank statements. Not simply satisfied with this seemingly simple step, he went a bit further and compared his twitter entries to the data from his bank to see how well he was able to self-track:
Step 2: Classify
Having compiled his full year of monetary tracking, Karsten then looked to how to better understand where his money was going by classifying his spending. He looked into classification schemes and settled on using the United Nations Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose. Why?
It is made by people who have thought more about consumption classification than I ever will.
Again, he did some amazing number crunching and visualized his entire year.
Step 3. Compare
So Kartsen has his expenditure data and he has it classified according to a simple schema. What’s next? Why not compare it to what is typical for someone like him! Karsten did some digging and found the German Federal Statistics office completes surveys of consumption and income every five years. He pulled the data that most closely reflected his income level and created a neat comparison:
I found this series of blog posts to be fascinating. For one, Karsten wasn’t just satisfied with tracking his finances for a full year. He went above and beyond and did some personal data analysis using some really neat tools and methods. I highly suggest you read his posts on tracking, classification, and comparison. Not only are the posts interesting, they also include short “how-to” write ups if you want to implement his analytical and visualization methods using R (an free statistical program). Keep up the great work Karsten!
Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.
Ewart de Visser had a friend who “didn’t like the whole work thing” and started speculating on foreign currencies. When Ewart asked him how much he was losing in his first few months, his friend wasn’t sure, so they set up a spreadsheet to start tracking his trading performance. In the video below, Ewart describes how he used data to modify his friend’s trading strategy to prevent big losses, as well as the interesting benefits of being tracked by someone other than yourself. (Filmed by the Washington DC QS Show&Tell meetup.)
Corey Maass is a freelance web developer who has spent the last six years getting his personal finances under control. He read every book and blog he could find on how to keep his bank account above zero, and built The Birdy to help himself and others in the same situation. In the video below, Corey summarizes what he learned and shares some tips he came up with that finally helped him smooth out his financial life, including rounding expenses up to higher numbers, splitting money into multiple accounts, and tracking what he buys every day. (Filmed by the New York QS Show&Tell meetup group.)
From the New York QS Show&Tell meetup group: Chris Woebken talks about his experiments in designing interactions to enhance our relationship with digital money. He asks the question, how can money be measured – in minutes, in sound, or in touch through electromagnetic gloves? Watch the video below to see Chris’ ideas for new form factors, from money wands to ways of incorporating audio feedback as you spend.