Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Something AWESOME!

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!


Jenny @ exconsumer said...

Hey Liina! Thanks for the shout out! I'm so glad the budgeting template has been helpful to you. :)

Way. To. Go! Getting you credit card balance from over $1000 to under $100 in one month is a huge accomplishment. Just think how much you'll save on interest charges!

When I have an irregular payment, I divide the total amount of the payment by the number of months the payment will span.

In other words, if I were paying for a three month long class that costs $150, I would enter the amount in my budget as $50 each month for three months.

Liina said...

Thanks for the tip, Jenny! I've asked people I know but no one else has ever kept a spending record ;)

I wasn't paying any interest charges anyway because I was paying it off every month. It's the lack of spending that's blowing my mind!

Colleen (365lessthings) said...

I am so glad you are realising the benefits of living with less. Lower credit card debt is certainly a great motivator.
I am also grateful you reminded me of Zappos.com because I need a new pair of sandals. I am starting to run out of shoes and Keens are so good. It is important to me that when I do have to buy something that it is good quality and I will get my money's worth out of the purchase. Through Zappos I found what looks like to perfect pair to suit my needs. Once I had that info I found a web site in Australia who sell them. I am almost certain I will be satisfied with this purchase. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your amazing accomplishments. Fantastic!

Liina said...

Colleen - I always hear wonderful things about Keens, but they just don't work for my feet! From Dec-Feb, I tried on no less than 6 pairs of hiking boots...Merrells, Keens, Vasques, North Face...I FINALLY found "my boots" on Zappos, and they're Columbias! I am very attracted to Keens "fashion" boots; I would love a pair of waterproof, comfortable boots that can be used as "nice" shoes, as my rain boots this year were motorcycle boots...worked great, but not appropriate attire in some situations! Good luck with your Keens!

& Thanks Anonymous!