The days when I have to deal with the Real World are fast approaching (though I do hope I’ll get into graduate school), so it seems like maybe time to start getting myself a little more together. This mostly means learning to manage my absent-mindedness so my life doesn’t dissolve into chaos. I like to remind myself that I have been taking baby steps for some time now–like discovering that I get a lot of benefit out of using a planner. So for most of college I’ve used a simple paper planner to keep track of my schedule and deadlines and such. But every so often I’ll lose my planner, and it doesn’t help me see where I’ve scheduled conflicts (an ever-present danger), so I’ve also started using google calendar too. Aside from some bugs and odd little quirks, I quite like it. Presumably those will be ironed out by the time it’s no longer beta, but then gmail is still listed as “beta” after 4 years, so maybe that will be a long time coming.
Another step towards being independent is that I’ve been making a list of things I’ll need to have to care for myself when I’m not living in a dorm, as they occur to me. Currently the list includes quality knives, a dustpan, and “cute tableware.” I’m thinking of collecting vintage pyrex and corelle in this pattern. I just ordered a set of teacups, after cracking my last mug. Probably I should also start a list of things it won’t be worth it to keep once I’m not living in a dorm, though I right now I can’t think of anything other than the little shelving unit I found on the side of the road and some cheap Wal-Mart rag rugs (what can I say? I have a glamorous lifestyle). Well, and I’m hoping this will be my last Midwest winter for a long time, so maybe I could get rid of some of these gigantic coats and sweaters. And my sheets! If there’s anything I won’t need again, it’s twin XL bedding. Hey, I’ll go add these to the list! Thanks blog!
Anyway, today I started using GnuCash. My dad recommended it to me because it uses a double entry system, where all transactions are coming from one place and going to another. I’ve been resisting setting up anything to track my finances for some time now, since I am kind of terrified of growing up. But I’ve also been wary of GnuCash because, well, accounting software + open-source Linux application kinda sounds like a usability nightmare to me. I love using ubuntu, but let’s face it, your average app is not a paragon of good interface design.
But overall, I found it simple. The hardest part was figuring out what different accounts I would need to create, and there was a “druid” (cute, linux) to get some common ones set up and then as I entered transactions I realized I wanted to track some more subcategories of things. The only real interface problem I encountered was trying to add opening balances. The druid gave me instructions, but they didn’t seem to work the first time. Hard to know if it was a design problem or an outright bug. But once I got it straightened out, entering my transactions for January went smoothly. And it’s actually sort of exciting to be able to immediately see how much money I have, and how much I’ve spent in the last month on various things. Since my tuition payment was in January, nearly all of that was “college expenses,” of course. Real world, here I come!