I grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan in a little area called Center Line. It’s essentially central Warren, just a mile or so north of the now infamous “8 Mile”. I developed an early interest in technology and programming, eventually settling on web development as my primary area of focus. As a result, I tend to spend a great deal of personal time dedicated to practicing my expertise, usually creating some sort of software based on whatever it is I’m learning about.
Recently, I decided that it is important to me to truly be able to take care of myself, and I don’t get that sense of responsibility when I’m living unemployed in my parents’ house. That’s not to say I’m irresponsible or incapable; just that I recognize my status and want to change it to something like, “I’m working passionately from my fortress of solitude.”
In order to know what I need and want, I’m going to need a budget.
I started modifying a template in Numbers on my Mac, but quickly decided it would be good to write a custom application so I can modify it in the future as my needs change. The application I’ve written is called “Home Improvement” and it is a budgeting/inventory database, so I can compare purchases and track my assets over time.
By building a budget, I can establish a target savings goal, so I can be sure to avoid falling into a great deal of debt, as I did previously.
The database categorizes each product based on their item type and tags associated with that type of item. For example, a specific Kenmore (product) is a Refrigerator (item) and belongs to the Kitchen (tag). A GE fridge would be categorized the same, so I can compare an entire Kenmore kitchen set of appliances versus an entire GE kitchen set.
Using categories and tags allows me to filter my database and quickly locate specific items like televisions, computers, and cars, as well as areas like the garage, yard, and basement, in addition to other groupings like furniture, appliances, and tools. It’s quite simple, but incredibly powerful.
Once I purchase something, I mark it as owned, remove it from my budgeted items, and instantly have the item tracked in my inventory. The last thing I want to do is go out and buy random stuff based on my perceivable needs, and then be disappointed that it doesn’t meet the completely or find something better. By budgeting items, I can research alternatives and fully understand my decision.
I’ve even added a feature for recurring costs, so I can see what my monthly income requirements will be in order to live the life I wish to live. This will not only be good for comparing cable television costs to streaming costs, but also food & utilities costs, and routine maintenance costs. It seems a bit excessive to go through all this effort, but how else am I suppose to know if I need $50,000 salary or a $100,000 salary? Instead of just trying to make the most money I can, I’d much rather let my lifestyle choices dictate how much work I need to do.