Project: Become a miser.
This is about a little method/script that I came up with that lets you analyse your expenses. Be it the day to day expenses or specific expenses such as trips, purchases, etc. Be it you alone or a group of people.
Cost Parser is a simple way of keeping track of expenses. It’s aim is to give you a basic overview of how you have been spending your money.
What does it analyse specifically?
At the moment, it is very simple. It gives you:
- Total amount spent.
- Break down by spender.
- Break down by category.
- Break down by sub category.
- Break down by day of the week.
How does it work?
Step - 1: You pick any editor/note taking application that is easily accessible (preferably across multiple devices). You do this by following the specific format mentioned in the next step. Ideally, you want a device/application that makes copy/pasting easy.
Step - 2: You starting noting down your expenses in the following format:
#dd-mm-yyyy [cost1] [category1].[sub-category1] [spender1] [cost2] [category2].[sub-category2] [spender2] ...etc
yyyy is optional.
#01-06 393 haircut k 333 household.groceries k 30 travel.bus a 50 lunch.cafe a 800 fuel k
Step - 3: Whenever you want to analyse your spending, go to narak.github.io/CostParser/CostParser.html and paste in everything you have been noting down and you’re done. You should see your expenditure breakdown.
I have an alarm that goes off at 9 PM on weekdays and 10 AM on weekends specifically set to note down the expenses. I use Google Keep for it. Keep is really convenient because it means that I don’t have to type it on the cumbersome phone keyboard if I’m noting down all the expenses for the day at one go. Also copy+paste directly on the computer and not phone.
For one, I needed a way to see where was all my money going. >.< It seemed to be mysteriously disappearing into the ether. I needed to find out what was the source of the moolah disappearage and which day would it be generally. Was it the grocery days (wednesday/sunday) or booze days (friday/saturday).
You might ask why did I build this? Why, when there are loads of applications available that let you do the same thing?
Well, I tried. About 2 applications before I got bored. I didn’t explore more, I probably should have. But simply because building something is more fun and you can make it like you imagine an application like this in your head.
- Simple enough to do it quickly.
- Easily accessible on any platform.
- Does not get in the way.
A note taking application of your choice is very simple. You could use Keep/Evernote to sync it across multiple devices. Or drafts in Gmail(or any other email you use). I use a combination of all three.
Since the input source is insignificant to the process (as long as it is text), platform dependence is eliminated.
Um… I don’t know how it doesn’t get in the way. I put it there just because it sounds like something someone from marketing would write.
To Do and future:
- Today when I was using it, I felt the need to drill down on lunch (the category, lulz).
- Possibly keep track of histories. I do month on month analysis (since about 4 months now I think). I’d like to see a graph of how, for example groceries/booze expenditure is looking over time. Have I managed to cut down on the booze at all!?
- Have a way to analyse and compare against other people. If I could get a 1000 other people to use it, say from Bangalore, I could get statistics about expenditure. Something to let me compare how I’m doing compared to the others about my age or so.
- Auto correct: Categories and Sub Categories should get auto corrected to the next most logical thing. At the moment, if I make a typo while typing in the expenses, it creates faux categories. So, for example, if I type ‘froceries’ instead of ‘groceries’ in a hurry… well you get the picture.
Go forth and use it!