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Autumn, Money and the Rest of My Life.

October 1, 2009

I can hardly believe it’s already October. Where has this year gone?? It’s certainly been a busy year for me. New boyfriend, new apartment, lots of traveling. I can only imagine what’s going to pop up in the next three months before this decade officially comes to a close and we enter the teen years of the 21st century.

Although it’s a little late in the year to call this a New Year’s Resolution, it’s never too late to make a commitment to do something good for yourself. In my case, I have become a steadfast tracker of my finances. It’s really important to do this, obviously, but like anything else (especially a certain other kind of logging…), doing something you don’t want to do is tricky. I spent weeks downloading Excel spreadsheet budget tracker thingermajigs, opening accounts on profiles and reading personal finance blogs to figure out what my approach should be. And I started, on September 1st, to actually track every. single. thing. I spent. Which, unsurprisingly, is a lot.

I started tracking my income and expenses in an Excel spreadsheet for the entire month of September. This is what happened?

My income:

Income $2281.00
Babysitting $172.00
Savings Transfer $245.00
Birthday Money $50.00
Freelance $500.00
Travel Reimbursement $60.00

Total Income: $3308

My Expenses:

Rent $1,050.00
Cell phone $79.00
Electricity $32.00
Cable $60.00
Monthly Credit Card Payment $140.00
Savings $65.00
Medication $25.00
Gym $15.00 (this is actually what I pay to have my account on hold for a couple of months while I get my finances figured out).
Groceries $290.00
The $60 Weekend Experiment $30.00
Laundry $13.00
Dining Out $324.00
Household Items $21.00
Gifts $14.00
Entertainment $92.00
Pay back Erik $74.00
Misc. Credit Card Payment $573.00
Transportation $39.00
Clothes $293
Children’s International $22.00

Total Expense: $3425

So you’re probably thinking, “Allison, you spent more than you earned this month. THAT’S BAD.” To which I would say, yes, it is. But I made a flaw in my calculations at the beginning of the month which affected the rest of the month. You see, I only put in the income from this month, September 15 and September 30, plus all my other little sources of income. But the September 30 money doesn’t actually show up until the END of the month, thus, it’s more of October’s money than anything else.

Lessons Learned:
#1: I eat out too often. Social activities for New Yorkers (well, for anyone, actually) usually revolves around food. “Let’s go out for drinks!” “Let’s grab dinner!” “Let’s do brunch!” Seriously, it’s like eating is the only thing you’re allowed to do with other people. I have always spent too much money on eating out. I hate to cook. Eating out is fun. You have other people making food you love that you would otherwise burn, melt or destroy in the process. It always comes out just right and it’s delicious. What’s not to love?
#2: I don’t account for clothes. I like to shop. I don’t do it a lot, but I like to do it. I never have a shopping budget, and when I do go shopping, it’s usually after months of pent-up lusting after shoes, bags and blouses and I go NUTS! And end up spending close to $300. Whoops…
#3: I don’t save enough or pay off much on my credit card: The way I have it laid out, my credit card won’t be paid off until somewhere around 2012. I’ll be almost 27 years old by then. That’s just no good. So I’ve upped the amount I’m paying each month to $400. I have no idea how I’ll be able to afford it, but the truth is, I really can’t afford anything else because I’m in so much debt. I WANT IT GONE.

October is shaping up to be a pretty slim month, financially. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my way through the month and into October, where hopefully I’ll be more accustomed to being frugal. Don’t most changes take two weeks before they become habit?

Somebody better come check on me around the 15th…

  1. October 1, 2009 11:20 AM

    I always wondered how anyone who isn’t rich affords to livein NYC , LOL! Thanks for the interesting peak into making that work. And I’ll totally back you up on getting rid of the credit card debt. When we got married, Jason, aka the practical one and the one who manages money way better than me, put us on a budget. We had $11 or $12K in credit card debt, and now we have none. We still use a couple of cards for online purchases only because we’ve had two incidents of people getting our debit card account number, and buying plane tickets to worldwide destinations, and our debit cards don’t come with the kind of protection that credit cards do. We pay off the credit cards at the end of the month though because the interest rates are ridiculous. When we had all the debt though, we took advantage of 0% interest deals, consolidated all the debt into a single account, and transferring the entire balance from one credit card to the other. Whatever card had the balance, we just didn’t use. It worked out really well. I don’t know how you’re doing things, but if you aren’t doing something like that, I highly recommend it because it’s the interest rates that are utterly criminal.

    • October 1, 2009 11:45 AM

      My interest rate, from what I can tell, is about 12%, so I’m paying a little over $40 a month on my finance charge. I thought about transferring it over, but they then charge you 3% to transfer the balance. I only have one credit card anyway, so it’s not too bad. Transferring it over would also only be a temporary solution. Once the 0% interest rate is over, who knows what I could be up to? With credit cards these days, it’s likely that it would have gone up even more and I don’t want to have to keep switching credit cards.

      I still use my credit card now, occasionally, for purchases. I like the points that I get with Bank of America and since my checking account and my credit card are both with Bank of America, it makes paying off my credit card very easy. I make multiple payments each month.

      • October 6, 2009 4:06 PM

        We found 0% deals that lasted for at least a year, and the balance transfer charges were pocket change compared to what the interest would have been over the 4 or so years it took us to pay it off. In the end, it was less money to the credit card companies who are run by close relatives of the devils who run health insurance companies as far as i’m concerned.

        This was when it was easier to get credit cards though, and we each had a couple of different general credit cards (as opposed to store-specific cards). We had one credit card that we set aside to use if needed, paying off the balance every month if we did use it (and mostly we didn’t), and the rest we didn’t use.

        It worked for us, so I was just throwing it out there.

        We still have a few cards, but most of them we canceled. The ones we use, we pay off in total at the end of every month, and mostly we stick to discover because they do the cash back thing. It’s not much, but it’s a little something more than we would have had otherwise. It’ll be over our dead bodies before we pay interest rates to them again.

  2. Tina permalink
    October 1, 2009 1:49 PM

    Allison, Next Mumbles I’ll cover you. I don’t want you not to come, you are so much fun.I give you credit for taking control before your credit card debt buries you. I am 36 and won’t marry my boyfriend because of my debt. It really sucks! Good luck sweetie

    • October 1, 2009 1:51 PM

      Awww, that’s so sweet, Tina. I appreciate the offer! I am still planning on eating out, but probably just like once or twice a week (tops). My problem is that I’ll eat breakfast out… and then I’ll have a snack out… and then I’ll get something for dinner if I’m tired… It just adds up! I also need to make smarter choices… an appetizer and that never-ending bread basket would keep me PLENTY full at Mumbles. And hopefully it’ll help my waistline a bit too!

  3. October 1, 2009 2:37 PM

    Great post Allison…I think we can all learn something from it, sometimes you get so wrapped up in daily activities, days go by so fast & you don’t realize how much it all adds up so quickly…good for you! 🙂

  4. October 1, 2009 2:49 PM

    People say you will always live beyond your means but still I try and try to get a handle on money. I hate how much it can mess things up. Money does not by happiness but it can by a plane ticket to a vacation spot which would make me happy right now!

  5. October 1, 2009 4:56 PM

    Yup, time to starting take control. At least you’re honest with yourself (and now with us). I’m sure you’re heard/read this before, once you get the credit card paid off – put that same amount into savings each month. You’ll be used to not having it so, best to save it.
    Good for you for starting now!

    • October 1, 2009 4:59 PM

      I swear, I have heard every piece of personal finance in the book now! I follow like 10 or 12 personal finance blogs, and they tend to repeat content!

  6. October 1, 2009 6:13 PM

    I REALLY need to do this. I save all of my receipts and go through them at the end of every month for tax reasons, but I don’t really TRACK my spending and my income, which is very random. Plus I’m still a full-time student so expenses tend to be much more than income. I do need to get the hang of budgetting though. *Sigh* I’ve never been one to budget..

  7. October 12, 2009 3:28 PM

    Well start budgeting now cuz the older you get the harder it is. And once you hit the Job market people who don’s usually end up spending more than they bring in. I blow about 40k a yr in bonus above and beyond what i am usually and can’t account for over half of it.

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