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An interview with George Gilbert

FW Editor: Hi, can you please tell us more about yourself? When have you decided that you want to be a developer?
George Gilbert: I became a software developer by accident. I was sent to Purdue University in 1966 under an officer training program in the U.S. Navy. I thought I was going to learn how to design and build hardware. Instead, I went into one of the first Computer Science curriculums. I graduated in 1970 with a degree in Mathematics because Purdue did not offer a Computer Science degree until the following year.

FW Editor: Is this the first program you have developed? What else can you tell us about your work?
George Gilbert: Since retiring in 1980 from twenty years military service, I have held progressively more responsible application analyst/developer positions from entry level through MIS Manager. I have also had my own software development business. The systems with which I have had development, maintenance, implementation and support experience spanning over 30 years include medical insurance, agent commissions, small business, university, scientific technical transfer, manufacturing, accounting, energy sustainability, medical emergency room, merchandise warehouse, basic personal finance and HVAC BAS trend data management.

FW Editor: My Own Payday comes on the market with a brand new idea about how a budget program should work. How did you come up with the idea for it?
George Gilbert: In 1975 I was paying my bills when I realized I was using a system that could be formalized. The first system was a set of manual forms that helped both me and other people get their finances in order. In 2002 a teacher friend asked for help getting her finances in order. After helping her, I decided it was time to express my system in an application that anyone could use. The first version of myOwnPayday was the result.

FW Editor: Who should use your program? Why should anyone use this particular program and not some other budget program?
George Gilbert: Consider this ... you are an independent businessperson. Here's why I make that statement without knowing what you do for a living. The assumption is that you do work for a living (you market your time and skills) and for your time and skills you receive a monetary compensation (be it salary, commission, profit, or whatever). Bottom line is that you are selling something and receiving money in exchange. That is a very basic definition of a businessperson. What you do with the compensation you receive, your paycheck, after the inevitable deductions, is entirely up to you. You are, therefore, not only a businessperson engaged in selling your time and skills, your are also a money manager. You alone determine what happens to the cash flowing into your life. Regrettably, most people have never received the training needed to be effective money managers. Consequently, even with an adequate income, people continually find themselves living beyond their means without fully realizing how or why. Typically, people blame their money problems on insufficient income and fret over how to supplement their paychecks. A fatter paycheck may, in fact, solve their financial problems, but chances are good that more money would lead to even more spending and start a new cycle of fretting. Living within your means, or not spending more than you make, starts with setting realistic goals and then effectively managing your income to meet those goals. Although that sounds easy, the setting of realistic goals cannot be done without a full appreciation of your money potential, or knowing just what you can accomplish with your income. And this knowing of what you can accomplish with your income is a by-product of effectively managing your income. Sounds a bit Catch-22ish; but, stay with me because I promise that it gets easier. There is a simpler, less confusing way to state the last paragraph. At the heart of any good, day-to-day money management system are these simple guidelines. 1. Know how much and when money is being received. 2. Know how much and when money is needed to meet obligations and goals. 3. Prioritize goals. 4. Keep track of how well obligations and goals are being met. Let's take a look at each of these guidelines in more detail. Know How Much And When Money Is Being Received Number 1 is relatively easy. Most of us who work for a living have a fairly good idea of how much our next paycheck is going to be. You would probably agree that knowing the amount of your paycheck is usually the only step in managing your money that you already do well. It is numbers 2, 3 and 4 where most of us get into trouble. Know How Much And When Money Is Needed To Meet Obligations And Goals In the normal scheme of things, knowing how much and when money is needed to meet obligations translates to paying the bills as the bills are received. No matter how large a bill may be, the tendency is to pay it from either the most recent, or the next paycheck. Sound familiar? After paying large bills this way, such as the rent or a house payment, making it to the next paycheck can be thin. In an effective money management scheme, the money needed for bills is projected. That is, instead of waiting for a bill to arrive before figuring out how a bill will be paid, bill payments are planned for in advance. Projecting obligations is the first step toward getting on top of, instead of being controlled by bills. The myOwnPayday application makes bill projections easy. Prioritize Goals Prioritizing goals also usually means paying bills in the order in which the bills are received, regardless of how bad you may be pinched between paying a bill and the next paycheck. In other words, the normal financial goal usually ends up being something like "paying the bills when I have the money." This approach to money management inevitably leads to a cycle of financially flush paydays interspersed with lean paydays. And buying just about anything equates to going further into debt. Carrying a balance on one or more credit cards is not uncommon. Most of us have one additional, overriding financial goal which seems to elude us ... getting out of debt. This seems to be a high priority for many people, and yet the credit card balances seem to plague us continuously. Even when bill consolidation loans are tried, each new loan, which is supposed to solve our problems by lowering our monthly payments, doesn't seem to work. As you may have learned already, the consolidation loan panacea usually ends up increasing instead of decreasing your debt load. Other goals besides paying the bills and somehow getting out of debt, like buying some good furniture, taking a trip, replacing the car or buying a second one, or any of the myriad other dreams we apparently cannot afford, either remain dreams or you go even further into debt to purchase them. This financial merry-go-round keeps the brass ring of financial piece of mind always just out of reach which is unfortunate because breaking the cycle of flush/lean paydays, and ever mounting debt, can be accomplished without a whole lot of effort. Keep Track Of How Well Obligations And Goals Are Being Met The truth is that most of us can achieve our day-to-day monetary goals simply by employing the fourth element of money management ... by having a means of keeping track of obligations and goals, and how money is being allocated to meet them. This does not mean being an accountant. It does not mean keeping track of how every penny is spent. Nor is the entering of all of your checks required. In fact, what is not needed is keeping track of where your money went ... what is really needed is where your money needs to go in the future. A system of records is essential for anyone who has the responsibility of overseeing the spending of money. Please stay with me here. As stated above, myOwnPayday records do not collect minute detail, nor are they historically oriented. Consider for a moment how any business, large or small, could survive without proper financial records. A small, independent businessperson could conceivably continue in business with a "by the seat of the pants" approach, but, chances for business improvement and expansion will be limited. Without financial records, a businessperson has only limited knowledge at any given time of what excess resources are available for expansion. And remember, you are an independent businessperson engaged in the business of managing your own cash flow. If you want to utilize your income to your utmost benefit you must put some effort into it by maintaining some form of records. The idea is to keep those records to a minimum consistent with effective money management. Keeping financial records to some people means keeping a budget. Most of us, however, find it difficult to operate within the restraints of a classic budget. On the one hand a classic budget normally does not have sufficient flexibility to permit occasional impulse buying, frequent changes in financial goals, or to absorb the shock of an unexpected, large expense. In addition, budgeting normally requires keeping track of every penny spent which is a tedious task at best. Accounting for every penny spent is the one requirement which so often derails the best of budgeting intentions. The traditional alternative to classic budgeting usually means no form of financial management at all. Unfortunately, this alternative seems to hold the most appeal for the majority of people. myOwnPayday offers a third alternative which is a compromise between rigid budgeting and no controls at all. myOwnPayday is a system of records and decision making tools that help you to truly manage your cash flow without keeping track of every penny spent. The program is not concerned with long term finances such as investments; but, with the basic problem of meeting day-to-day needs with a limited income. There are plenty of investment tools available from which you can choose after you have taken control of your finances with myOwnPayday and find yourself with the pleasant problem of excess cash to manage.

FW Editor: At the moment, this program only works on computers that have Windows operating systems installed. Are you planning to add more portability in the future and make it work on other operating systems as well?
George Gilbert: myOwnPayday 2 is in development using the Visual Studio 2010 environment. When Microsoft realizes its vision of having Visual Studio applications run under any operating system, myOwnPayday will become available on other operating systems.

FW Editor: The installation and also the usage of this program are really easy to do. Also the program has a really nice interface. Did you think about all the users that are not so experienced with computers when you decided to build this program in this way?
George Gilbert: I write my applications for two people ... the user and the programmer who may have to maintain one of my applications. That means a user interface that is as intuitive and user friendly as possible plus code that is well structured and documented.

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