Recently I came across a blog post which described some Tips how to write a Journal on Hacker News.

This interested me because I also write a Journal since multiple years (since the 20th March of 2018 to be precise and if we don’t count my Journals I had as a child) and it already helped me in multiple occasions.

The author of the article asked himself multiple questions every day and because I think that is too much pressure I want to describe how I do it.

Why it can be helpful

Some possible use cases:

To summarize: If you keep track of your daily life you can look up everything even if you don’t remember something anymore.

How I write it

I wanted something simple which will last till I die.

As a software developer, I use tools like Git for versioning files and Markdown for writing documents (this blog post itself is also written as a Markdown document). Additionally to that, I already had a wiki which was realized as a bunch of Markdown documents and folders in a Git repository hosted on a Raspberry Pi.

So I used my existing wiki, added a new folder “Journal” and inside that a folder for the year. That directory contained files named after each month — “03.md” for example — which had a title for every day and bullet points for every thought.

This simple system exists till this day with a small change that I moved it from my Raspberry Pi to my self-hosted Gitea instance.

Why personal finance is connected with that

Since this year I use beancount to track all my finances in a very similar approach: Files have a special syntax with lines for every transaction and that files get tracked in a Git repository.

Thanks to the parsable syntax you can create reports of your finances (like income and expenses) thus have a better overview of where your money flows.

Because I trade with stocks since 2014 my journal was heavily used for tracking stock transactions which helped me a lot but obviously such a bookkeeping computer language is a way better solution for that.

Imagine you bought a stock but because your Depot was moved to another broker, you don’t see the value anymore at which you bought. Now you would have to search old documents of that transaction to find out at which price you can sell to make a profit. In some similar cases this personal tracking of my finances helped me a lot and I would recommend every stock trader writing down the transactions with a system like beancount.

Software Developer and Investor from Germany. Writing about Software, Tech and Investments.