I love graphing and plotting data. A visual comparison makes it much easier to understand the relative importance of different things. I wrote a small Python script (using matplotlib) to visualize home (ex)spenditure based on transactions on our bank account. By bundling all transactions by keywords, I could get Albert Heijn, Boni and Hoogvliet under one name “Supermarket”. This way, it is easy to see where the large chunks go and the relative importance of holidays vs home improvement vs car vs insurances over time. (a.k.a. Pareto analysis )
This way, we can select smarter where to economize and in which domains of our family life we can afford some slack. (For privacy reasons, I removed all numbers from these plots, but you can imagine or try out on your own transaction data!)
How to use the script: (leave a note here, and I can send you the .py file)
1. Download .csv of the transactions for the period of interest. At least from our on-line bank (Rabobank.nl – a cooperative and still well-run bank in Holland).
2. Adjust the script to categorize in your favourite way – and type in your exclusions. For us, transactions to and from our savings account do not constitute cash flow, so those were filtered out.
3. Generate graphs of your incomes and expenses!
Now you can use visual control for your own cash flow. If you want, you can even make run-charts!