Archive for January, 2018

Creating financial systems

Financial systems are “set it and forget it” applied to your personal finances. They are valuable because they save you from having to worry about your money. For example, instead of making a decision to save each month, it happens automatically. It helps you focus your attention on things that do matter, like creating value for other people.

My favorite guide on creating systems for personal finance is by Ramit Sethi, called The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

In it, Ramit talks about a prescriptive budget and a descriptive budget. The descriptive budget is where your money is currently going. Due to my obsessive tracking of my expenses in Gnucash, I already had this. Do you need to be like me? Probably not—there exist tools like that can aggregate various spending accounts into one convenient place.

A prescriptive budget is a plan for spending each month. Here’s one way to create a spending plan:

  • Fixed costs: things like rent, utilities, debt
  • Investments: your 401k and Roth IRA contributions
  • Savings: Build up an emergency fund if you haven’t already. Otherwise, this is for accumulation fund for things like vacation, house down payments, etc.
  • Guilt-free spending money: Groceries, eating out, shirts from REI, movies.

Then you want to create systems that automate the categories in your prescriptive budget. That way, you spend less time worrying about money and more time enjoying the guilt-free spending money.

Does that sound like more fun than constantly worrying about financies? If so, head on over to The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

2018 Tech Reading Challenge

Many of us are challenging ourselves to grow in the new year. One area of growth I strive for is in my career as a software developer. To that end, I’m sharing my 2018 reading challenge. I hope you will find it stretches your technical ability.

How it works

  • Choose a reading goal early in the year and set your pace accordingly.
    • The beginner reading challenge is 1 book a quarter.
    • The advanced reading challenge is 1 book a month with 2 months off.
  • Choose the books and read them in any order, checking them off as you complete them.
  • Post about your progress on Twitter using the hashtag #2018TechReadingChallenge. (Cross-post on Slack too)


  • Define your definition of “read,” since some technical books are pretty dry if you try to read them from cover to cover.
  • Ignore the categories and use #2018TechReadingChallenge about any software development book you read this year.

2018 Reading challenge (beginner—4 books)

  • A book about unit testing
  • A book about a framework, tool, or language
  • A book recommended by a coworker
  • A book published in 2018

2018 Reading challenge (advanced—10 books)

  • All the books in the beginner list plus:
  • A book about leadership
  • A book about an abstract concept
  • A book about software architecture
  • A book about agile
  • A book from the 80s
  • A book with an animal on the cover