My Personal Financial Odyssey – Part 1

In a previous post,  I discussed the need for every person to engage in accounting to keep track of their own personal wealth.  In an attempt to concretize this idea I plan to go through how I developed the program I use today which has helped me, my family, and my wife’s family immensely through the years.  Indeed much of the reason why I now have the freedom and the time to spend in developing Shurts Accounting and Shurts Tennis can be attributed to all of the information I gleaned about our family’s finances through this program.  And I have employed it in one fashion or another for my mother and my mother in-law through the last 20 years to help them live comfortably after their husbands died.

Far from being a constricting straight jacket that doesn’t allow you to enjoy the money you have, a good financial accounting program liberates you by giving you the peace of mind that you are doing well and the early warning system to tell you when danger is on the horizon.  With the information you generate from such a program you can see weeks, months and even years in advance when a financial problem might be coming, or you can be re-assured that your wealth is growing and you are going to be able to do all of the things you want to do in life.

There are three major components to my program, but also a number of sub-divisions to these major components that I plan to write posts on.  Following is an outline which approximates the topics on which I plan to write:

  • Quicken
    • Need for discipline in categorization
    • Recurring transactions
    • Projecting 2 months ahead
    • Reconciliation
    • Proper financial and tax reporting
    • Investment tracking
    • Diversification
  • Income Tax Analysis
    • Mirroring your tax situation
    • Projecting income taxes owed for the year
    • Alternative tax strategies
  • Cash Flow Analyzer
    • Matching Quicken’s categories
    • Budget creation
    • Tracking against budget
    • Cash flow performance
  • On-Going and Annual Analysis of the Whole Program

This outline represents how I look at the program today, but it most definitely was not developed chronologically in this order.  All of this has taken me at least 25 years to develop and there has been much trial and error to the process.  Indeed this writing project will be the first time I have ever tried to codify it.

In looking at it, I am sure the non-accountants reading it are shutting down at the ‘complexity’ of it all.  I cannot tell you that the process to develop this kind of program on your own wouldn’t be painless, but anything worthwhile is going to require discipline, thinking and work.  What I can tell you is that if you do spend the time to do it right at the start and if you stick with it, that it does get much, much easier to stay on top of it over time.  The feeling of accomplishment and peace of mind for knowing precisely what your situation is is well worth the effort.

And if you believe such a program is either too difficult for you to even begin or requires way too much time to stay on top of, my daughter and I are available for a small fee. We can either help you get the program started while teaching you how to work it, or do this on-going work on your behalf so as to provide you the on-going information that I routinely have at my fingertips.

Next time I will discuss the foundation of this financial program – the wonderful and equally aggravating computer program known as Quicken.

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