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Personal pipelines

Sun, 06/16/2024

About a year ago I started doing monthly "financial reports" for my spending, saving, and investments. The process involves logging into my financial accounts (banks, credit cards, brokerages, etc.) and downloading transaction/balance information for that month.

After downloading the data from the various sources, I group, transform, and transfer it into my long-running spreadsheets (personal version of cash flow statement and balance sheet that a company may use). By doing this, I can track how my spending and saving patterns are changing over time, as well as get a detailed picture of my finances (both historical and future looking).

Having done this process over 12 times, I've began to notice how repetitive and boring it is. It's always the same exact steps, with the most complicated part being classifying transactions. This made me think: is there some way to automate this process? Is it possible to automate every single rote process in my life?

My intuitive feeling is that it can be done. At the end of the day, for almost any actions or processes that have some digital component, I'm accessing all the information and performing actions through a client. A client that I control. There should be some way (e.g. headless browsers, chrome extensions, etc.) to reduce the amount of time I spend doing these tasks. Ideally, it just triggers and runs on its own.

I call these personal pipelines--small scripts that automate the repetitive tasks in my life. If I can eliminate low level "dumb work", I am able to free up more time to do higher level tasks such as planning and evaluating. For example, instead of spending one hour a month moving data around to setup these spreadsheets, I would be able to now spend this saved time to think about my finances.