I have the record of my bank account movements back from mid of 2013.

It consisnt of date, 'description', change and balance. There are 1300 entries.

Most of the descriptions are undescriptive, like 'Withdraw in ATM', 'Debit Card used in XYZ place', 'Debit Card used in XYZ - Owner name's', 'Remunaration', 'bank package rate', ...

From 2015 to now I started commenting some of the movements, but I don't follow any system.

I would like to get some insights on how am I dealing with my money.

The first thing I did was plotting the changes/balance side by side. finances

From this I noticed that from June/14 to November/14 [Point A] I had a big leap in balance. Looking at my record, I can't understand what I did to have this improvement. There are very few movements, I guess I didn't use my money (which makes sense).

Then I had a dip in 11/2016 [Point B], due to some unplanned expenses I had.

So far I have a roughly idea that unplanned expenses are a pain, and avoid to use my money is always good. But that's too obviuos.

Then I made a simple table with avg, stdv, median, max and min:

finances 2

From this I confirm that 2014 was better (mean 27.9), the stdev doesn't looks ring any bells, neither does median.

Anyway, here's the extent of my finacial knowledge: Keep track of things, see if anything pops.

What I want to know is how can I improve my analysis? And for the years to come, how can I improve my logging?

Sorry if this question is too broad, but I have no technical finaces knowledge.


Some extra info:

My current bank account is around $ 6k.

I earn $1.300 monthly and have a fixed expense of $ 400,00 plus some extra stuff.

I live with my family and I help with rent/utilities/food.

I'm in the 2nd year of 5 of psychology.

  • 2
    the average of your individual transactions means nothing. 100 a week is more than 400 a month, even though 100 is a lot less than 400. The balance of the chequing account might mean something, but only if you have no other accounts (loans, savings accounts, etc) Dec 30, 2017 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


Sorry to say, the process you've described seems to have little to no value at all.

If you want to track spending, you should track the items you buy. Not 'apple','banana', etc, but by category. Utilities, Food, Rent, Entertainment, etc. You can choose the categories to have the level of granularity that makes the most sense. Do all grocery purchases get grouped, or do sundries (TP, dish soap, shampoo) get listed separately? That's up to you.

It takes a full year to hit the annual spending cycle, to include things like insurance (car, home, life) that may get paid once a year. And to include both winter and summer spending on the home items, for me it's summer lawn care, and winter snow plowing for example. Utility bills also cycle thru the seasons, and even a year might not give more than a hint to average cost.

The analysis you have so far doesn't seem to give you the reason for any ups or downs. How do you account for saving $50/mo so now after 2 years, you can buy the big TV, and not panic that you just spent $1200 at once?

  • "It takes a full year to hit the annual spending cycle, to include things like insurance (car, home, life) that may get paid once a year" If you are paying those by bank transfer of some kind (as opposed to cash), you can just go back and look at past account statements, assuming you still have those. Expenses paid in cash can be very roughly approximated by simply counting all cash withdrawals as spent on something ("miscellaneous"). I went through old account statements when setting up amortizing regular but non-monthly expenses; it took a few hours to do, but was worth it in the end.
    – user
    Jan 1, 2018 at 16:11

and welcome. I hope no one flags this as too broad or primarily opinion-based, even though that's exactly what it is... :)

Tracking the balance in your checking account is IMO a waste, since it's so dynamic.

Instead, you should form a budget and live by it.

In that budget, save for:

  • unexpected expenses that are predictable (auto repairs, medical expenses, etc),
  • expected non-monthly expenses
  • future goals (new car, vacation, etc)
  • retirement (though it come out of your paycheck)
  • Other stuff.

My goal is to have $800 in our checking account at EOM. Any excess is swept into savings, and accounted for in various "sub-accounts" (columns in a spreadsheet tied to a single savings account, or no spreadsheet and multiple savings accounts).

What you do then is track the sub-accounts.

That, at least, is how I do it.


Looking at spending after the fact does pretty much nothing to help you financially. If all companies did was analyze past expense and hope for the best in the next year they would invariably fail. Companies have the following method:

(1) Write a budget

(2) Act according to the budget

(3) At year-end, analyze how well they were able to stick to the budget

(4) Forecast future financial needs

(5) Adjust budget to suite

You need to be following those steps if you want to live a financially balanced and disciplined life. Look at what your expenses have been each month. Take your "Description" data and find out how much you spend on each type of expense. Then see where you can make changes. This could include putting money into an emergency account or saving for a vacation, car repairs, tuition, and retirement.

The others have laid out better and in more detail how you should look at that stuff but I thought I'd add the stuff about the corporate budget process.

Hope this helps!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .