Going Paperless

Did you know that Microsoft Money still works, 20 years after it’s been discontinued?  Quite the impressive feat.  Not so impressive to admit you still are using MS Money 20 years after it’s been discontinued, though.  The world has moved on, old man.  We don’t need to track our money anymore, everything’s online!  And while at the same time, no one seems capable of managing their finances.  I don’t know why.

But this is about me, not every other financially-challenged person.  I still use MS Money, and I’ve faithfully asked for and walleted my paper receipt with every single purchase.  And then I take the time to log those entries in Money, giving me a running balance of my purchases and allowing me to see what I’m spending or overspending on.

The thing is, and this is shameful bragging, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.  It’s just as much due to my financial situation as it is my spending habits.  I don’t spend needlessly, and at the same time, I’ve made purchases of things that last and aren’t causing me to have to repurchase them or repair them or whatever.  And my income is solid enough that it affords me the luxury to buy pretty much whatever I want.  And the key to remaining like this is, I don’t want a lot anymore.

So, bragging completed, why do I still track my individual purchases even if I don’t need to?  Well, it’s still nice to have a diary of sorts of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done, and sometimes it helps research how old something is.  And there’s the helpful side effect of being able to identify fraudulent purchases and tip-modifications when they should happen.  So I will continue the process.

But, you know, it’s tedious.  And I’m honestly sort of tired of it.  I end up with weeks worth of receipts in my Costanza wallet until I pull them all out and dump them on the desk and have to log a months worth of transactions – like 150 – in a sitting.  So I don’t really want to do it anymore.  But, I think I can finally made a modification to the process to ease the pain a little.

Everything truly is electronic now.  And as part of my anti-fraud process, I have all my cards send me an email notification when a charge occurs on them.  This has been in place for years and I never really put these pieces together.  So with these emails coming in, why do I need the paper receipt anymore?  I can just log them from the emails.  I get a date, a total and a payee – everything I need.  So I set up Outlook to move all those notifications into a dedicated folder and flag them for follow-up.  When I log them in Money, I clear the flag and my wallet stays light.

In fact, I’m mulling over writing a program that can read Outlook, find those emails and parse them, then send keystrokes to Money to make the entries for me.  Wouldn’t that be efficient?  Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE being a programmer?

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