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November 27, 2007

As part of the effort Mr. Karen and I are currently making to ensure that we can retire at some point, I spent long stretches of time this past holiday weekend gathering numbers from our credit card and bank statements for the past year to see exactly what we’ve been spending our money on. The last time we did this in any detail was about ten years ago, just before I quit the job that was sucking the life out of me; we wanted to make sure we would be able to get by on savings for a while before I found a new job. Back then, we bought Quicken to help; it was easier than doing spreadsheets on our own (not that I minded doing spreadsheets; I used to be the Lotus 1-2-3 Queen at work, the person everyone in the department came to when they had questions about macros and functions and such). This time, we bought nothing to help, as I not only managed to find the disks for Quicken 98 but also found I could install it on our post-millennium operating system. It works fine, except for the part where it can’t handle the four-digit years in the transaction detail files we were able to download for some of our accounts. Hah. Almost eight years late I’ve got a Y2K bug to deal with.

The reports I got out after I got all the numbers in weren’t too surprising. As expected, travel is our biggest discretionary spending category. I was a little bit alarmed at how much ended up on the knitting and quilting line in the hobbies section until I remembered I bought a sewing machine this year. I won’t do that every year, or even every decade. There was a fairly big chunk on the miscellaneous line, which is why starting Saturday we’ll be tracking our cash spending in detail until we figure out where exactly that money’s going. Last night we gave a bunch of information to the firm we’re paying to help us out with our planning and in a few weeks we’ll go back to hear what they have to say. I’m hoping it’s not “you’re in deep trouble”.

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