I'm going to get straight to the exciting part: Last month, my credit card bill (which I pay off every month) was $1,400.00. This month, my credit card bill is $48. SERIOUSLY! To be completely fair, I didn't pay my bill until March 2, and the original bill was $1,095.00, and my current amount is $70. Furthermore, I had $99 in returns to zappos.com paying part of my current bill. BUT STILL. Even going from $1000 to $170 is pretty fucking fantastic.
I want to thank everyone in the awesome, supportive, creative, talented, and honest minimalist/simple living community for this change! I have read a ton of blogs in the past month, uncovering fabulous stories of curbing consumerism and clearing clutter. And it has made a HUGE change in my spending! I wasn't even expecting this, at all. It's really kind of blowing my mind that my credit card bill was $48. This doesn't include rent or bills, or cash or check purchases, but STILL.
Since the beginning of March, I have been tracking my spending, for the first time. I had planned to do this since the beginning of January, but I wasn't sure how to do it, and saving 2 months of receipts then trying to sort and record them was too complicated.
On my first visit to ExConsumer, I found Jenny's awesome Free Budgeting Template for Excel (see her sidebar). It was exactly what I had been trying so sort out in a notebook, but for Excel! Which is so much easier to use than a spiral notebook. I then created a customized breakdown for the very specific areas I spend in. I also found an Excel template for personal finance on the Microsoft Office site. I have all 3 pages in an Excel document, and I input my receipts every morning at work.
It's the 22nd of the month, and, according to my Excel Budget, I've spent 75% of my first paycheck. I have a second one in I haven't entered yet; I also haven't put rent into the system. I still have a lot of stuff I'm tripping up on: rent, for instance - does it go in at the beginning of the month, since I'm paying ahead for the month of March, or does it go in when I actually write the check for next month's rent, at the end of the month? I'm also stuck on stuff like classes, and prescriptions: I pay ahead for 8 yoga classes; I buy 6 months of my (asthma) prescription at a time. Do I separate these into the weekly/monthly amounts, or record the whole amount at time of payment? I'd love advice or resources on these questions!