My Personal Financial Odyssey – Cash Flow Analyzer – Part 5

Budget – an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time

 

I can see the eyes glazing over right now.  There are few things in life that are considered as mind-numbingly boring as a budget.  Yet a budget is perhaps the most quintessential thing we accountants do, and, indeed, if it is done well, it is one of the most inspiring and human activities one can ever engage in.  As usual, many of you are now thinking I have lost my mind, but let me state my case.  You might agree with me when I’m done.

It is our ability to think that gives us, the human race, our basic tool to survive and thrive.  Unlike lions and tigers and bears, who instinctively hunt or forage for their food and have the physical equipment to allow them to do so, we humans have neither the physical equipment nor the instincts to survive in the same way.  We only have our minds, but it is our minds that have allowed us to dominate the planet – to go from cave-dwelling ‘animals’ to space-exploring, DNA-cloning, sky-scraper builders in 10,000 years time. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

Why I Started the Cash Flow Analyzer

About 10 years ago I had a problem.  I had tracked my finances with Quicken for many years and I had a good understanding of my financial situation.  My balance sheet was always an accurate representation of our net worth, and the income statements always told me how well we were doing financially.  But my wife and I always seemed to be short of cash, even though our financial statements showed our income and our net worth steadily growing.

I knew what the problem was.  My retirement plan was a huge part of our overall assets and on-going income, but the increases in the value of the retirement plan did nothing to assist us with our day-to-day finances because it was for the future and wasn’t to be used now.  The retirement plan was hugely important to us so I couldn’t remove it from my Quicken financial reporting, but I needed to find a way to remove its influence from analyzing our day-to-day finances.

After much thought and even more trial and error, the Cash Flow Analyzer was what I created to solve the problem. It has worked like a charm ever since.  Continue reading