Gosh there has been a lot of my face on the blog lately. That’s awkward. And annoying. If you hate my face. (Though, if that’s the case, masochist much? You should really stop coming to this site. For your health.)
Instead of my face, let’s talk about my money, shallllll we?
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m taking the idea of simplification to all aspects of my life. For Joey and me, that includes our budget and finances. While we wiped out our credit card debt about a year ago, some of it has managed to creep back in the last few months. Never ones to say die, this is at the top of our to-do list when it comes to simplifying our lives.
For me personally, that journey started with taking an honest look at my own spending and saving patterns. Then I could determine what needed to change. Two things were a huge help in beginning this process:
I’m going to talk about my experience with a specific money tracking website, but really, there are a bunch of these out there that can help.
While a quick once-over of my debit card statement could probably give you a good idea of where my money was going, I decided to join Mint.com to get a more accurate breakdown. Using Mint, I was able to get an immediately clear picture of what percentage of my income was going to various categories, like rent, shopping, food, etc.
That’s a peek at my July so far. Besides getting an up-to-date analysis, I can also compare previous months to see how I’m doing at cutting down on spending. For reference, here was June:
The two things Mint immediately showed me I was spending way too much money on were clothes and food. I mean, come on, Justine. Get a grip.
Instantly, I had two specific goals:
- Stop shopping for a month. I mean, seriously. I have all the clothes I need and then some. (I also had a few ideas for making this more fun — more on that later.)
- Bring my lunch every single day. Joey is a really great cook, and we’ve gotten much better about cooking most of our dinners at home. Plus, I love leftovers. There is really no reason why I can’t make this work — and still be enjoyable.
The other thing I love about Mint is that it gives you a schedule of credit card payments once you tell it how much you want to contribute to your debt each month. Mint determines how much you should allot to each account based on how much interest they’re charging you. For example, I created a budget (aptly titled “Pay Off the Dang Debt”) that will end in October, and Mint tells me the percentage I should pay to each card based on its APR. I literally just have to check the budget and schedule the payment each month, easy-peasy.
2. Automatic Savings Account Contributions
I used to be really good about regularly contributing to my savings account. But then life got in the way, blah blah blah excuses.
The point is, my savings account has been pretty pathetic as of late, and that’s not good. Now, every pay day, I pay myself first with an automatic transfer through my bank from my checking (where my direct deposit goes) to my savings. This “forced” savings takes out any opportunity for me to back out or change my mind. Plus, it’s kind of fun watching that little number grow every couple of weeks.
I’m also planning to put any freelance checks I collect straight into savings once the debt is paid off. It’s extra money for us anyway since our budget is designed off of our 9-to-5 income, so there’s no reason not to squirrel it away.
It’s amazing how much of a difference these two little changes are making to the health of my finances (not to mention my peace of mind).
What are your best budgeting tips?