I like excel, and in fact just spent the evening on a non-excel spreadsheet of some complexity, but in this case I used a ledger-style graph-paper notebook and a pencil. (I enjoy designing non-excelling solutions to things obviously better solved with a spreadsheet as I find the constraints on granularity, computational complexity, and editing force you to think through and prioritize the essential elements of the problem. Also it'll continue to work when this whole "computing" fad washes over.) I can tell you from that experience it gets a little messy though. A spreadsheet would be nice.
Whatever, but point being to answer your question: maintenance is a breeze. purchases are infrequent enough it's no chore, and I'm even updating the depreciation quarterly by hand, which takes a few minutes/quarter, and even that's hardly onerous.
Expected & Unexpected benefits:
- You make more economically-informed decisions. I better avoid decisions based around sticker shock and am willing to spend more for durable, frequently-used, maintainable items, as well as items with resale value, which should save money long-term. E.g. Expensive boots costing $300 dollars work out to cost way less than cheap running shoes that wear out fast and resist repair, and don't even mention fancy shoes you wear three times a year.
- You model your spending better: Depreciation expense is a better indication of typical spending than jumpy cash flow figures (no more of these jerky $300 expenses, instead a nice smooth $1.25/month). I discovered at this point in my life I now spend less on clothing than on laundering it(!)
- You have a comprehensive, exhaustive, and cost-weighted inventory. I mean, I could write a minimalist blog, now. (in terms of actual utility to the world, however, I consulted this on a recent move to help in packing). I could also tell you what I spend too much on.
- It may encourage you to accumulate less. In my case I'm not buying another damn thing till I get rid of one since I ran out of lines (the joys of paper). Additionally, the knowledge that I'd have to go depreciate it makes me think twice.
- You get a personal history to review at leisure. Some keep journals, others photo streams, but you, you have your depreciation schedule.
- 'Mint'? 'Envelope method'??? Pssh! Please. You're depreciating your socks!