2022-12-06 On using my own spreadsheet to track expenses

The rationale

We should be tracking our own expenses. But admittedly, it can be very difficult to find time for this.

A decent population of people probably end up, choosing the more convenient option, referring back to their mobile banking app to find transactions. I think that certainly is a valid approach, especially when some of the apps actually already break down the spending into categories, so one gets an idea of where exactly one's money is going towards.

However, for my purposes, I feel that the methods of convenience, are somewhat limiting. I want to know exactly how much I spend in a month, and how my account balances change along the way. And I want a way to be able to record all of this in an off-line, privacy, friendly, and fully customizable environment. While some of the banking apps, have export features, for example, a CSV sheet, and I don’t think these are particularly human readable especially if I want to more better understand my transactions.

The process

First, one has to figure out how much information should actually be on the spreadsheet. Will it just be simply date, item, transaction value? Or will there also be additions, such as transaction category, cumulative total of balances, specifically, which account the money comes out of? The possibilities are arguably limitless with a custom spreadsheet.

Second, one has to figure out exactly which app to use? For starters, Google Drive is probably a somewhat dicey choice, seeing that it requires an Internet connection, and the absolute trust that Google will not abuse one's data (we all know how that goes).

Third, one has to consider how the needs of data recording change. Perhaps in the first year, there’s only really one bank account to keep track of. But then, perhaps in the next year, there’s a second bank account to keep track of. Will that require cross checking across two banking apps, or will this, perhaps be better served by using the custom spreadsheet to allow checking of two accounts and balances at once?

My implementation

Version one of my financial spreadsheet started in 2013. It was admittedly, quite bare-bones, mostly containing info on date, transaction, details, transaction value, and a cumulative total column of transactions. Despite the bare-bones implementation, I actually found it was very useful, and this was during a time, when banking apps, or even desktop views were very limited. notably, I did not actually have a bank account, so I definitely had to track things manually. 2013 was also the time I mostly paid in cash, so that maintain accurate record of my cash transactions, I had to enter transactions manually. I was happy that I was able to track my transactions down to the last cent. Over time, I started to add things to the financial spreadsheet, for example, conditional formatting, so I knew which transactions were credits, and which transactions were debits.

Version two of the financial spreadsheet started in 2014, when I actually had a bank account in Australia. The banking app in Australia was actually pretty decent, and allowed me to see my transaction date, transaction, description, transaction value, all at once. However, scrolling through multiple transactions and trying to search for a particular transaction, was not very easy. I found that it was much easier to do this through my spreadsheet.

I cannot recall when, but sometime around 2014, my computer data got wiped out in a somewhat freak accident when I try to install Linux on my Mac. due to this, I sadly made the move to put the spreadsheet on Google drive, though, fortunately this only lasted one year. The cloud syncing was useful so I could see my transaction information while I was out, and add transaction information before I forgot, in the case I arrived home tired. eventually, I then moved it to iCloud Drive, which was a bit more satisfying for my privacy concerns. However, eventually, I decided to make the move entirely out of cloud syncing for these financial transactions.

After the above transition out of clouds syncing , I more or less remade my entire financial spreadsheet again from scratch. I recall that in 2014, because I started a new job, I made a dedicated sheet within the spreadsheet, just to track my earnings. I was also able to create a small table that calculated my earnings per hour, and my work hours per specific teaching category. Again, I find that this is the benefit of the spreadsheet: full customization, including tracking, metrics, such as hours, worked, salary per hour, and total earnings. I find this was much easier than manually entering in values into some app, which may not have necessarily shown the info I wanted all at once.

Since 2015, the financial spreadsheet has it also include multiple bank accounts, two sheets for tracking currencies (US dollars and Australian dollars), and a separate sheet transfer credit card transactions that includes multicurrency support. this certainly was not something I could achieve with other banking apps, including full cross-account support with multiple currencies, and the customization that I wanted. It might actually be something similar, such as those banking apps, like Mint, which do aggregate multiple accounts together, but without a proper off-line and desktop view, and the somewhat questionable privacy policies of these companies, it was something I was not able to sign up for comfortably.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I even made an entirely separate spreadsheet file just for stock market transactions. Again, I find it highly customizable, including being able to calculate the return on investment per year, and track which of my stock market transactions have actually performed the best.

Oh yes, that I also mention it is completely free to make your own spreadsheet? One just needs the time. But it certainly beats any of these subscription model apps that exist these days just for the sake of convenience. Or at least I think that’s the case.

2022-11-20 Why I finally bought an Apple Watch

My first thoughts on release of Apple Watch gen 1

"It seems a bit excessive."

"I can type faster on my phone."

"The battery life is short to the point I would need to charge mid-day if I were working." (In 2015 I was just starting university.)

"I should just wear one actual analog watch that only tells the time."

Some years pass by

So I eventually learn that the Apple Watch battery life is improving. Great, that takes care of one problem.

Apparently the functions are not too excessive. They're more like extensions/complements to the iPhone - some tasks can be done faster and without the need to pick up the phone from the pocket. Try doing this as fast as you can - it will take 3-4 seconds just to struggle with the phone in your pocket. The watch though? 1 second to move your arm up closer to your face.

Voice recognition and speech-to-text comes to the Apple Watch. Hmm, so maybe there's a way to quickly reply to messages. Dictating is much faster. I should know, I can dictate my medical notes (thank goodness).

The math I ended up doing


I think this is one of the bigger selling points for me. I want to "triage" my notifications. I don't want to have to pick up my phone for every notification I get. Imagine there are 100 notifications per day or so. I just checked my phone today, and it seems my daily average pickups range in the past month is 106-140 pickups per day. That's around 300 seconds wasted per day just picking up the phone. 5 minutes per day, 365 days per year, around 1800 minutes, or 60 hours per year just picking up phones. Just let that sink in a bit...

Just cutting that pickup time from 3-4 seconds to 1-2 seconds, or approximately 50% -> that's only 30 hours per year I have to waste picking up the phone, i.e. 30 hours per year saved

Notifications and replying

After being able to triage notifications, I get to pick and choose which ones to really reply to.
e.g. E-mails. Unless it's truly urgent, I won't be replying to these anytime quickly.
For some messages from friends, I can dictate to reply if really wanted to.
I estimate that dictating even w some error correction takes 50% as much time, given to use the phone, I would have to unlock it, open the app, etc.

Out of perhaps 100 pickups per day, maybe only 20 of them are worth replying to on the spot.
If each one takes around 20 seconds on the phone, 10 seconds on the watch, the time saving is as follows:

(20 pickups * 20 seconds / pickupphone) - (20 pickups * 10 seconds / pickupphone) = 200 seconds, or 3.33 minutes per day
For a year, that is around 1200minutes / year, or 20 hours per year saved

Pickups + Notifications and replying

So far, 30 hours + 20 hours = 50 hours per year saved. Just on proper triage of notifications and time reduced to reply. Great!

Other reasons I bought the Apple Watch

Sleep tracking

I used to manually enter in when I went to bed, and when I got out of bed. I would also have to "guess" when exactly I fell asleep. To do this, I would usually add 30 minutes to the time I went to bed. Of course, I would not have remembered that, so I had to write all of this in a note.
I open the note 1 time to record time in bed, 1 time to record the time out of bed, and "n" times to record time I fall asleep. "n" being the number of times I end up not falling asleep / waking up again. This all takes time. Each instance recording takes around 20 seconds (with opening the phone, opening the app to record the times).
So per day, that is at the least 1 minute. Or to make it easy, per year, 365 minutes ~ 6 hours.

So with the Apple Watch, as long as I use the Sleep / bedtime function, all of this is AUTOMATIC and much more accurate as sleep cycles are tracked.

Other health functions

Heart rate tracking is quite valuable to me. I like to know if my resting heart rate is actually on the lower end of normal, so I know I'm not so unfit.

Blood O2, well, I don't anticipate using this much, and I honestly have not. When I actually become hypoxemic, there will be a strong reason why, and by that point, I will probably end up in a hospital anyway.

ECG, ah this one is fun. I know I'm not having some arrhythmia or acute coronary syndrome.

More math again

### Pickups + Notifications and replying + Sleep tracking

30 hours + 20 hours + 6 hours = 56 hours per year saved

While it seems unfair to put the time savings per year, it does let me put that in perspective.
For example, 56 hours, in anime episode perspective... each episode being around 1/3 hour, so 56 / (1/3) being 168 episodes worth of anime. For a 12 episode anime, that's 14 anime seasons right there; I probably watch around that many animes in 1-2 years. So...at least there's something I can do with my time instead of wasting time just picking up the phone or recording sleep hours.

Realistically though, this is time that I can spend learning new things or researching something important, e.g. filling in spreadsheets, what to invest in now, finding out the next new milk tea / coffee shop to go to.

In conclusion

I wanted to save time, so I bought an Apple Watch.
Analog watch on my right wrist, Apple Watch on my left wrist.
Yep, I'm pretty weird.

2022-11-19 economics of doctors, specialist vs. internist

The rationale

After having been through 7 years of school (3 undergrad, 4 grad), one already loses on 4 years of salary. To most people, this is probably negligible. However, as one ages, each year becomes arguably more valuable (we're all dying right?).

I previously did the math for a medical graduate vs. an undergraduate working in an office (approximately USD$60,000 - $100,000 salary). Very gross estimates accounting for investable income, investment returns with compounding, and a very crude tax rate - the medical graduate can finally catch up to the undergraduate after around 7-10 years (approximately age 33-36).

So how about if the medical graduate chooses to go beyond internal medicine? (Sorry surgeons, won't be calculating general surgery vs. specialty surgery).

How people usually calculate

Salary alone

"Specialists get paid more." This is likely true. The differences in internist salary and specialist salary can be pretty striking. But one needs to calculate the hours worked.

Forgetting taxes

While the salary for doctors in USA is quite generous, so are the taxes (nowhere near as obscene as the tax rate in Australia though fortunately). But taxes also remove a significant portion of money that can be invested.

Forgetting investment

"You should be making money when you're sleeping." Someone told me this. And of course that quote has probably been passed around.
Imagine working and only earning a salary. These days, this is a terrible idea. Actually, in all years, this is a terrible idea. More so now, that inflation somehow manages to equal or exceed the average real return of index funds (expect around 7-10% real return).

Forgetting compound interest

"The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." - Albert Einstein (though somewhat questionable if he actually said this).

Assuming one wishes to be the absolute laziest defensive investor out there, expect 7-10% real return from dumping your yearly investment principal into an index fund. Per The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham - both must-reads I must say - this strategy is validated with decades of data, but let's not go into that here.
In 10 years of 7% real return, expect to double your money by literally doing nothing.

If you get a 3-year head start, 22% return
4-year head start, 31% return
5-year head start, 40% return
(n)-year head start, r% return
See where I'm going with this?

One who starts investing ahead of time, and attempting to capture the returns while perhaps getting lucky with the markets, can eventually be light-years ahead even someone who has to wait to attain a higher salary.

Forgetting a good market cycle along the way

I'm not saying this happened to me, but let's say in the 3 years during your extra degree, or fellowship, or whatever slows you down from earning a sizable salary - a market crash or opportunity comes along.
You wish to invest 10% of your income.
For someone earning $250,000: $25,000 can be invested
For someone earning $70,000: $7,000 can be invested

Assuming a 10% return, at the end of 10 years, the principals have grown to:
t = 10 _ $25,000: $65,000
t = 10 _ $7,000: $18,000
But if the return in a good opportunity is 20%...
t = 10 _ $25,000: $150,000
t = 10 _ $7,000: $43,000

The point of this basic calculation above is to demonstrate that assuming one is rather prudent in investment decision making, with a proper head-start, the gap can grow large over time thanks to compounding.

Forgetting leverage

Without going into too much detail here, with a higher income, comes higher borrowing potential.
For most peoples' purposes here, the borrowing potential will come to buying property and using leverage to augment returns.
A 3-year head-start with a $250,000 salary vs. $70,000 salary seems like a short timespan, but this time should ideally be used to consider opportunities to borrow money for larger asset purchases, particularly real estate.
Having an extra 1 or 2 properties is probably already enough to get a couple year head-start.
However, I have not actually factored this into the calculation, because it would probably get too complicated (beyond my pay grade).

Calculated with the above points in mind

At the end of everything, I of course made a spreadsheet, with variables in mind:

  • Salary - these were varied with around 3 sets of numbers
  • Tax
  • Investable income
  • Investment return
  • Cardiologist vs. hospitalist

The cardiologist (type below) catches up to the hospitalist by post-IM residency year...

  • Electrophysiologist: Year 8
  • Interventional cardiologist: Year 8
  • General cardiologist: Year 7

The differential is USD$1 million by post-IM residency year...

  • Electrophysiologist: Year 12
  • Interventional cardiologist: Year 14
  • General cardiologist: Year 17

USD$1 million is probably the equivalent to...1 house?
Would it be not unreasonable to just by at least 1 house during the 3 years if not choosing to pursue fellowship, to make that differential effectively $0?
Though one could argue the borrowing potential of the specialist far exceeds that of the internist once the attending physician level salaries are accounted for.

Not calculating the subjective opportunity costs

Specialists are arguably working more hours than the internist. On-call...a bit more stressed...
Then there are the things that are missed in the ages 30s-40s:

  • Family life
  • Weddings
  • Travel

And for the more dark people, "You never know, the next day, I could be hit by a car."

I think while I could try to factor in costs for the above, it would not be generalizable, given how each person will value each opportunity differently.

In conclusion...

We can work for money or passion, or attempt to do both. There is no one approach that is more valid than the other.

Investing money seems to be the factor that can really narrow the gaps between internists and specialists.

So what is the right answer then? I have no idea even after the above have been calculated.
The spreadsheet making was very fun though.

If you would like the spreadsheet that explains the math with the numbers, feel free to let me know. Always happy to explain the above concepts.

2022-11-18 test post

Hello world!