Friday, June 29, 2007

Account Buffers

Apparently I missed a calling as an accountant. I currently have four idea's for future blog posts saved in drafts that all pertain to my new "financial" label. I thought I would go ahead and start with a small one and talk a little about a thing I call Account Buffers.

I know I'm a nerd and don't do my finances like most folks. Because I'm a nerd I like nerdy words, like buffer. An account buffer is pretty much what it sounds like. Netbank charges me a fee if my savings account drops below $500, so my savings account buffer is $500. I take that right off the top of my check book and pretend like it isn't even there. So if my spreadsheet shows I have $750 in savings, Netbank will show me $1250. I do the same thing on my checking account too. That way if I say, write a bad check, it won't bounce.

Sometimes it's hard to forget that money isn't there. In my spreadsheet I have a row that shows my balance and it accounts for the buffer. In reality, if my balance is a red negative number, I still have a little in my account. Below is an example of what my spreadsheet looks like...and yes the numbers are fictitious.

Clicking on that picture should give a better view of it. Row 2 I usually keep hidden and I work off row 3 for what I can spend. Column E and G are used to create the buffer and, as you can see I keep those hidden as well. Rows 4 - 232 make up January - May as far as activities go. Generally I hide all but the current month. Columns H and J are old loans that currently have a zero balance, hence why they are hidden. The merged cell below Credit Card and Car Loan represents the total amount of money I owe to everyone. Finally the total column at the end is what I have minus what I owe. Kind of like a net worth that doesn't take into account any equity of any kind. My goal is to basically make that number as high as possible, at least closer to black. This picture does a good job of showing the actual amount in my accounts versus the amount I pretend is there. And yes, this practice has saved me from writing a bad check or two.

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