Starting a project

Money management. Not the most exciting of topics, but something just about everybody needs to consider. Unless you’re in a position to let your accountants handle the details, you’ll need to find a way to keep track of your money. It’s never been one of my strong points. My approach consists of a spreadsheet that gets intermittently updated as and when the mood strikes.

It’s not a particularly high tech solution, and from time to time I’ve looked at dedicated software to help me keep better track. Nothing has really hit the spot, though, and I keep returning to my spreadsheets.

If I’m going to keep track of transactions diligently then I know I need to record them as soon as possible. That means an app or web access, so I can record the latest gadget to hit my credit card straight away rather than wait until the next time I fire up my desktop. An app alone would not be sufficient – while it would be fine for entering data, it would be limited when listing and analyzing transactions. I’d still want to use my desktop to – literally – see the bigger picture.

So that leaves a web based application. Unfortunately that also means entrusting a cloud service with all of the details of my finances…

Unless, of course, I write my own…

As it happens, I’ve also been thinking that my programming skills are getting a bit rusty and I haven’t done anything new for a while.

The only way to really get to grips with a programming language or framework is to use it for a real project. The hard bit is finding a project… it has to be of a manageable scale while still being challenging, and it has to meet a need. A personal finance application fits the bill perfectly.

It seems like a perfect opportunity. The basics of a personal finance application shouldn’t be too challenging – at its core it’s just a database with a simple CRUD (Create/Read/Update/Delete) front end. Beyond the basics, there’s endless scope for extra bells and whistles in the form of graphs, reporting and analytics.

Over the coming months I’ll be developing my application and writing about the design decisions and my struggles to get to grips with something new. I’ll be learning as I go, which will inevitably mean some stumbling around in the dark.

This will be an occasional series, and I’ll continue to write about other things, but I’m hoping that going public with my intentions will increase my motivation to get on with it!

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