Monday, February 7, 2011

Money Knowledge: Where is it going?

I do not know if I am unreasonably frugal or the deals are leaving little to be desired. I have had to step back and take a good look at my finances now that we are living on one income and I am a student.  I have also been working to change the way we eat and this does not seem to “match up” with coupons & sales as much anymore.  Maybe that is why you have not heard from me…at all.   I am trying to eat more fresh fruit & vegetables, and foods like quinoa (keen-wah), and taking my vitamins. 

So, how am I “Shopping Without Money”?  I am focusing on keeping track of my spending on a simple Excel spreadsheet.    For the month of January I saved all of our receipts for gas, groceries, and little expenses.  I made categories such as Food & Non-Essential Food.  Non Essential food is chocolate, coffee, etc.  Things we don't need but like.    I added a category for Groupon and alike spending as well.  I want to see if I am saving money here or if it is costing me money to save money!  We can get caught in that trap very easily.  

When all was said and done for the month of January we had spent $129.00 more than we made!  I believe that my math is off a little.  We do not EVER use credit cards so I am wondering how this happened.  My bank account is in the positive.  I think I counted money spent on gift cards that we had, we had $150.00 in Walmart gift cards so I used those for groceries last month ( I spent more on groceries that $150.00).

Here is where keeping this spreadsheet helped me:  If I had not had those gift cards would I have overspent anyway?   Would I have put my bank account in the negative, costing myself even more money?   Now I have a starting point- I can see the categories where I spent too much, and work on reducing those.  Already today I switched to a cheaper cable package with a lot less channels.  I have found that the TV is rarely on, and after a bit, we won't even remember the mindless shows we were watching.  I also called my credit card company on another matter and was informed that they have a new program where I can earn 20% back on any payment above and beyond my minimum payment.  The 20% goes toward paying down my balance- it is not toward airline miles, etc.  Next on the list is researching my cell phone bill and data plan. 

So get an envelope ready for receipts, and use pen & paper or Excel, or something, to start keeping track of expenses! 

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