Using Skrooge's advanced features for your christmas expenses

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I don't know about you, but for me Christmas' gifts have always been a kind of challenging exercise. Getting a gift for every child in the family - not only my own kids, but also nephews or friends' kids - trying to keep inside your budget, and making sure they are treated equally. Not to speak about the crowd in the shops, that's another topic Tongue out. Of course, all of this is weighs nothing when seeing the lights in their eyes when they crack open their presents, but the road to that moment can be a bit bumpy.

Skrooge can help you in getting right the financial side of things. Let me explain it, using some real life example.

Warning: Many of you will feel this is over the top for just managing Christmas presents, and in a way they are right. Keep in mind this is also to showcase some unknown features (here, user defined properties) that make Skrooge a very powerful tool.

The Situation

I have three kids, Gabriel, Capucine, Constance, and four nephews (let's call them Joe, Jack, William and Averell). Budget for my kids is, let's say, 60€ each, and 20€ for my Nephews. In addition, my Wife is the Godmother of Jack, so he gets a special gift from her, and the budget for him is 40€.

In addition, my parents and my wife's parents, having many grandchildren and living in the country, far away from toy stores, usually ask us to choose our kids presents, and send us the money. Their budget is 40€ per kid. We also have the same deal with Gabriel's Godmother, who sends us an enveloppe of 20€ per kid, except for Gabriel who gets 40€.

Does this situation look familiar to you ? If yes, read on !

User defined Properties

Skrooge allows you to define your own properties. We will use that to indicate, for each present bought, who it is for, and from whom (for those situations where we are delegated to buy gifts).

Let's first create an operation with the following attributes:

  • Amount : -12.39€
  • Category: Leisure > Toys & Games
  • Date, mode, payee: Whatever suits you

Once the operation is created, we can add our own user defined properties. I chose:

  • XMas 2010 For : Used to indicate who is the present for
  • XMas 2010 From : From whom is the present

Let's repeat this for every Christmas related operation

Visualizing it all

Now, I would like to know where am I regarding my presents chase. Let's build a report showing :

  • In rows: Who receives the presents
  • In Columns: Who gave the presents

As you can see, we have a very clear overview of what is already spent, for whom, and from whom.

A few comments

Workload

Yes, I know this represents some workload, and is probably over the top for such a case, as I already mentionned. However, I really did it this way this year for my Christmas expenses, and I find it represents much more workload not doing it: at some point I would have to sit down and go over all the expenses trying to figure out all this.

Alternatives

Of course, you could do all this (and much more) using a traditional spreadsheet. But if you are already using Skrooge for your expenses, you are doing double work.

Whithin Skrooge, there are other ways to do it. You could define a specific Category, called for example Christmas, and define subcategories per Kid : Christmas > Gabriel, Christmas > Capucine... And then define trackers to track who is the present from. I find it less elegant and flexible, but do whatever suits you :)

Current Limitations

At the moment, user defined properties can only be stored on operations, not on sub-operations. It means that if you went in a store and bought one present for Joe and one for William (a very common situation), this will not be straightforward. You can of course split the operation, but you will not be able to assign attributes for the two sub operation. The workaround is of course to create individual operations, but it means you are loosing consistency with your bank's statement, and will need more time for reconciliation.

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