What is Counting Zeros?

Counting Zeros is an experiment I designed for myself. It’s a game I’ll play over the course of 2012. The purpose of it is to re-wire my relationship with money; for more about that visit what are my goals. The game involves a deck of cards and 5 ground rules, also detailed here in the Q&A section.

4 thoughts on “What is Counting Zeros?

  1. Hi Nathalie
    i love the idea of this and would like to join in I wondered if you have any cash counting apps you could recommend?
    should i just use a diary?
    I will try and keep up…
    Also apologies for confusing everyone on facebook!

    • Hi there – it’s great you want to play! No doubt there are loads of cash counting app’s (and if memory serves that’s one of the assignments that could come up in the Deck of Small Change) … but for now I just use a post-it note in my wallet or the memo pad on my blackberry for the immediate logging (whichever is handiest at the time) and then once each week I’ll log the week’s totals into a spreadsheet in xls (takes about 10-15 mins to do that). The xls is set up so that the columns are the weeks of the month and the rows are my “categories” of spend. I have done this once before, which is how I know what’s the best/simplest system for me … what I found was that I had to log everything for a couple of weeks before it became completely obvious what the most helpful categories for me were – some of them include
      Breakfast/coffee
      Lunch
      Dinner (in)
      Dinner (out)
      Other groceries
      Other going out (mostly I just go out to dinner with friends or for drinks, but this is where I’d log cinema etc)
      Boots/toiletries
      Tube/transport
      The idea was to track all the things that I can’t figure out from checking my online bank account — roughly speaking the cash counting xls tracked all my “disposable” income and I used my online bank account to track everything else (bills, credit cards, mortgage)
      You should use whatever system (little notebook in purse, post it notes or app on phone) that is easiest for you to do throughout the day with least hassle to you … and then set up categories in a weekly tracker that divide up what you spend into the categories you want to learn more about — for example, going out to dinner is a big spend category for me so I make sure it’s a separate line item so I really see how much money I spend doing that.
      I am definitely one of the most unsystematic people I know and I find this exercise much simpler to stick with than I ever would have guessed, after a couple of weeks it becomes faster and faster because you can just invent your own short-code as you go along for the most routine items you spend on frequently, e.g. everyday I have coffee so after a while I just logged “C” which I knew =’ed a cafe latte from Nero’s on my way to work which is 3.50 per “C”). Hope that helps! Happy to send you my xls by email if you want?

  2. Hi!

    Just found your blog today and think its great.
    I’m trying to do the same as you, rework my relationship with money!

    I have got this app which you might I like as it means as soon as I buy something it gets registered on my mobile and syncs with the cloud so its on my computer at home where I can see everything in more detail. You can set up a proper budget and weigh your spending against it, which I’m trying to do now. That for me is the hard part.

    http://www.youneedabudget.com/ would love to know what you think of it.They also give free webinars about their principles behind the app, I’ve watched two and they are good. Blimey I sound like an evangelist!

    What will you do when the year’s up?

    A

    • Brilliant, thanks for the tip. I have a blackberry … looks like your app doesn’t do blackberry … though I have been using iSpend which might do the same thing? When the year is up, the plan is to shut the game and the blog down — at least for a while, the blog might come back! I’ll use the extra time this’ll give me to pull together what the year has taught me for Counting Zeros, the book! Thanks for visiting & your support

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