Today?s episode is all about getting your shit in order! The importance of this has become very apparent to me over the last few months and especially pulling this podcast together has really got me thinking about, how can I be more efficient, technology is moving so fast ? surely I can be doing better. Some of this I have already covered with you, like getting into monitoring my fitness ? I have now taken this to a whole new level and for the past month, every day I have linked the MyFitness Pal App to the Garmin Connect App and logged everything I have consumed, the power of this is that if you want to lose weight as I do, it is all about the maths ? calories in and calories out, you have also got to make sure that your nutrition that fuels those calories is well balanced but that is getting too technical for the purposes of this conversation. So now I know what calories I have burnt through my watch, and what calories I have consumed and guess what from just making sure that on average I consume less than I burn I have actually lost a bit of weight ? who would have thought!
So I have made some headway into organising and managing my fitness, and it is paying off some small dividends. The best thing about it, is that is has been easy and repeatable as the exercise I am focussing on is just walking ? our dog called Saroo. If you have seen the film LION that name may sound familiar to you, Saroo in the film based on a real story was an orphan boy from India who got adopted by Australian parents and then ? well I won?t spoil it for you in case you haven?t seen but needless to say, Saroo is our little Kiwi orphan boy. Anyway, I digress, so walking yes, it is so easy and enjoyable, even when I reach my target weight I will just carry on the exercise routine as normal ? and very little chance of getting any injuries so this is a habit I can comfortably take into old age ? all being well. Also, having daily measurements that are almost effortless is a game-changer, I mean the watch is completely automatic and logging the food isn?t too bad with the app reminders if I have not logged my breakfast, lunch or dinner daily which is actually quite handy and I get a certain level of satisfaction from the dopamine hit of getting it all logged and completed! So anyway, health and fitness are going in the right direction so that means recently I have been looking into what other areas of my life I can get in order and specifically around getting to financial independence.
Well inspiration, especially around FI, usually comes from Facebook at the moment and last week I saw a very interesting post from someone looking for advice on what software package to use to track spending and income and this got me thinking about bookkeeping. We have all seen the rise of software as a service offering from the likes of Xero, MYOB and Reckon but guess what, if you want to get full use out of these offerings they all come at a cost, and it is usually a recurring cost. I am not a fan of the recurring cost model, s let?s face it I am a cheapskate. However, I do recognise that I need to go one step beyond Microsoft Excel to do things like my wife?s bookkeeping for her business. So purely out of procrastination and interest, I looked to see if I could find a free alternative to pay as you go accounting software, and I came across a nifty piece of software called GNUCash. It is actually pronounced GNUCash by the cool kids, and GNU basically means it is free open-sourced software, which is like a collaborative environment where programmers can freely access the code of a software package to improve it and freely distribute it for their own, non-paid kicks, shits, and giggles. What a format, I really cottoned on to this about a year ago when purchasing a new computer, which was bare-bones which basically means you have to add things like the hard drive, RAMM, and even the operating system, so it didn?t come with Windows and we didn?t want to pay for Windows so I did a bit of research into this Linux thingy I had heard one of my software engineer friends talk about around 10 years ago and boom it is open source, free as a bird and now running said computer!
So back to GNUCash, without going into all the technical details I am now able to freely export data from our bank accounts into GNUCash and get to work categorising the income and expenses we have incurred over a period of time. Again this is all about measuring, and it is another game-changer, especially as it has not cost I don?t feel obliged to keep using it something better and shiner comes along ? it also means whilst I go through the learning curve of how to use it to its full potential I don?t have the guilt that it is costing us money when I am not quite up to speed. It’s not a massive saving but still part of our FI mindset all the same. So we can now compare the actual sums of each category of spend versus the budgets I set up in the FIRE spreadsheet a few weeks ago and which you can download for free at happyfiday.com. This was a really interesting process and I got right into the detail, a love the flow state I get into when accounting ? I am such a geek I know! The first caveat is that to save a bit of time I used this experiment as a dual purpose and so used a start date of April 1st so I could make a good start on the bookkeeping for Aleisha?s current financial year. So whilst it means the exercise will provide real-world value it does mean that I have to account for the change in dates and incomplete year but regardless the bottom line is that the actual bottom line of expenses is very close to where the FIRE 2019 budget would expect it to be. There were some surprises though, primarily that there are items of spend I hadn?t considered during the creation of the FIRE budget and the most significant of these omissions was health at around $1000 since 1st April 2019 until mid-January 2020. That?s ok, in fact, it?s a good thing, as knowledge is power and I can use this history going forward to see what the trend is in this category which includes stuff like doctor?s visits, specialist appointments and even a $10 water bottle I bought from Torpedo7. I guess you are wondering why a water bottle got classified into the health section? Well, as history has it and as I have constantly been reminded by Leish ever since we first met, my water intake has been terrible mainly because I can be very lazy in this area, I don?t appreciate its importance despite it being one of the most if not the most essential thing a human being should be doing (along with breathing). So as I recently got into this health kick malarkey I came up with a cunning plan to ensure I consume enough water each day, and that plan has bloomed into fruition through the purchase of a maaaaaaasive water bottle which I carry around with me everywhere like a man-sized baby?s bottle and I can often be heard asking for ?my bottle?. Anyway, so that was a huge digression, well not too bad as it is another great example of getting practical and efficient. So back to GNUCash, this is will be here to stay for the short to medium term at least and I will try and learn a lot more about it, how to become more efficient at it and how powerful its customised reporting is ? so it?s a keeper and you can check out our latest report alongside the FIRE budget in the ?Tools? section on happyfiday.com.
So that is organisation in terms of health, fitness, accounting and water bottles but there is one more form of organisation that I have really got into recently which encompasses all of these together and more. It?s through an app called Notion and I don?t need to go into detail about it here as there are plenty of videos on YouTube. In fact, I first came across it through the productivity and efficiency guru slash Youtuber, Thomas Frank. Notion is a tool that you can use not only to organise work tasks but also, life admin, social events, travel, virtually anything. Best of all you can customise the look and feel of its pages, structure and flow even to the extent of icons and cover photos to depict specific categories of organisation ? so not only can you really geek out on its functionality you can also appreciate its art! You can click through the pages you create which each have their own unique web address which means you can access it anywhere with an internet connection and share certain parts of your Notion ? it really is cool. I have produced a basic set up for my home page with links to different areas of my life and followed a YouTube tutorial by the YouTube channel ?Everyday Apple? ? go check it out.
I am slowly but surely getting my shit together and I really do feel on top of things now, and much of this has to do with the organisation I am getting around my health and fitness which I had been neglecting with toooo much of a focus on FI, but I feel I have got the balance right now. Which reminds me of a weird audiobook I listened to recently it was a free classic audiobook, so was quite old and talked about the importance of human beings optimising their mind, body, and soul as the major part of the Science of Getting Rich ? which funnily enough is the title of the book ? The Science of Getting Rich and I say it is weird because it is delivered in a way that is so matters of fact and feels condescending and clearly not from this time but interesting nonetheless. So enough from me babbling on, and you hanging on go away and get organised ? oh and happy fiday.