Saturday, January 16, 2010

Where's my money?

A simple exercise: Calculate how much you have earned till date (including your salary, gifts, return on investments and all types of income). Just an approximate amount would do. Find out how much money you have in your savings (SB accounts, any other investments like stocks, Mutual Funds, etc). How do you find your savings with respect to your earnings? Are they substantial or very meager?

To drill down, calculate how much you have spent till date. Start with all your major expenses (like education or buying a vehicle/house/site). Find out how much you approximately spend monthly on other things like fuel, snacks, dining, clothes, telephone bills, etc. Put all of these together and get an approximate amount of how much you have spent so far (after you started earning).

Then do the math, "Calculated Balance" = Earnings - Expenditure. Are your actual savings same as the "Calculated Balance"?
If yes, congratulations! In most cases there will be a noticable big difference between the two. If so, where did your money go? Hard to explain!

I was in the same situation about 3 years ago. I had worked for over 2 years and I had a relatively small balance in my bank account (equivalant to about 2 months of my salary). My father helped me realise this. I started wondering where all my money went. I calculated all my major expenses and did the same exercise I explained above. I could account for about 60-65% of my expenses. Where did I spend the rest? I had no idea!

In order to prevent such accounting anamolies, I started keeping tabs on all my transactions, income and expenses. I started using a personal finance manager and found it very helpful in managind my money and accounting for it. In the past 3 years that I have been using GnuCash and KmyMoney I have been able to account 98-99% of my money.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Distro Hopping

I'm somebody who gets bored pretty soon. This is very true with the different Linux distros atleast. I keep on hopping distros every now and then. I take a lot of pain to install a distro, then tweak and install the programs I want and everything. But once I feel everything is installed and the desktop is good enough for my daily uses, I get bored and want to try out some other distribution. Maybe I just like trying out new distros, installing and configuring them. Or maybe I'm searching for that perfect distribution for me.

For the moment, I have puppy linux and 2 different installations of arch linux (on different hard disks) on my desktop. I have Ubuntu and Debian on my laptop. My previous (very recent) distributions on my desktop are - Gentoo, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, LightHouse Pup, Sabayon, etc.
I don't even remember all the distributions I've tried (installed and used) in the past 9 years. There are just so many. Red Hat, Suse, Mandrake (these 3 have now changed to Fedora, OpenSuse, and Mandriva), Caldera, ELX Linux, Slax, Elive, DSL, Vector, Slackware to name a few. And I have a huge collection of CD/DVDs of most of these Linux distributions over the past 9 years. Linux has truly come a long way since then.

Out of so many distributions, I keep coming back to 3 of them - Arch Linux, Puppy Linux and Ubuntu.

Arch Linux does everything right. They follow the KISS principle and an arch system is really very simple and elegant. It is the perfect distro for anybody who knows a little about linux, is not afraid to use the command line and has heard of config files. It allows you to build a very minimal system with no bloat whatsoever. You can (and will) build YOUR perfect system using arch. The package manager is great. And their wiki is excellent. It is one of the best I've seen.

Puppy Linux is something I would recommend to everyone, not just newbies to Linux. It is just about the perfect system which has everything but the kitchen sink. It's minimal footprint, ability to run in RAM, support for everything (browsers, IM, multimedia, doc/image viewers, and just about anything you can name), excellent community, make it a perfect choice for everybody. It has applications for just about everything. The CD/DVD recording/burning software is the best I've ever used. The downside to puppy is it's package management (something that Barry is already working on. Check out puppy 5.0 / dpup).

Ubuntu is the community's favourite distribution. I keep coming back to it because of the apt package manager. It is THE best out there. But I always feel Ubuntu is very bloated.

For now, it's Arch and puppy for me. Who knows, next week, I could try out some other distro. :-)