Back when I was in 3rd grade I had a teacher that took it upon herself to teach the class both how to write a check and how to balance a checkbook. It was not part of the regular curriculum but she felt like it was important, even at such a young age, to know how to do those kinds of things. I am forever grateful for having received that guidance at such a young age. Fast forward to 2016 however and the only time I write a check these days is if I absolutely have to, and I balance my checkbook…never. Of course, I still have manage my finances as having multiple credit cards to keep track of and pay off can quickly get out of hand if you don’t stay on top of it. I’ve always found that simpler is better, at least for me anyway. So while some folks may feel more comfortable using Excel, or other more powerful tools for these types of things I prefer to use a simple tool called Soulver.
What is Soulver?
From the Soulver website:
Soulver helps you work things out.
It’s quicker to use than a spreadsheet, and smarter and clearer than a traditional calculator.
Use Soulver to play around with numbers, do “back of the envelope” quick calculations, and solve day-to-day problems.
I recommend watching the products introductory video on the companies website, but in essence it is a very smart scratchpad. You can do a myriad of mathematical calculations, use the results of said calculations to do even more calculations, all in a very simple single screen workflow. Whats more impressive is that you can do your calculations in the middle of a sentence. For example I could say that “I owe $50 on the Sapphire at 3% interest.” and it will spit out $1.50. Pretty cool right? Currently the product is only available on Apple products (Mac and iOS) and while they do offer a free trial the full featured product costs $11.95.
How I use Soulver
Since I do not manage a checkbook per se I need a way to see at a high level how much money I have, how much money I owe, what payments i’ve made, and how much I’ll have left once all is said and done. I have a single Soulver document that I call “Accounts” which keeps track of all of this for me. In the screenshot below you’ll see an example of my document. Row 1 is all the things that I have “Paid”. This is typically credit card payments i’ve made, or it could be checks that i’ve written. My typical workflow is that I will update this row immediately after making the payment so that I can account for that payment before it ultimately clears. Row 2 is “Currently Available” which for me is simply the total amount of money that is in my checking account. Again, I like to keep it simple, this is not a means for me to try and calculate my net worth or anything like that, I simply want to know how much cash I have available in my primary checking account. Row 3 is “Available After Payments” which is the difference between what i’ve got available and what i’ve currently sent out as payments. As the name implies, this is the amount I will have leftover in my bank account once all payments have cleared. Note that this row is dynamic as it takes the sum of rows 1 and 2 and then subtracts them. Row 4 is my “Total Owed” which for me is the amount of money that I owe on each of my credit cards at a given time. I use this number as an input to Row 5 “Total Less Payments and Debts” which takes the sum of “Available After Payments” and subtracts my “Total Owed”. The final number that is output is the amount of money that I will have in my checking account after all payments have cleared, and after I pay off all that I owe.
As you can see in this sample document, we started with $1,000 in available cash, paid $350, and once we pay off the additional $150 that we owe we’ll have $500 leftover.
Where to go From here?
For all intents and purposes we’ve only begun to scratch the surface regarding what Soulver is capable of. In the future I may do a Part 2 in which we discuss some more advanced use cases for the product. For now go ahead and give the trial a shot and be sure to let us know what you think.
Special thanks to the wonderful folks at Acqualia who make Soulver, you’ve done a great job!