Tag Archives: tracking expenses

August 2014 – Expense Tracking Results

Last month, I vowed to start tracking my expenses after seeing my credit card debt yet again grow more than I was throwing at it.

Midway through my own personal challenge, I shared with y’all just how hard it was to track expenses at all.

To top it all off, I recently just got engaged, which means I need to be that much more mindful of my spending! Not only do I need to save up for a wedding, but most importantly, I need to save up for our future life together!

After weeks of keeping literally all of my receipts and diligently keeping record of every time I swiped, the results are in.

Let me tell you right now – the results ain’t pretty, y’all.

All in all – I spent about $4,613.84 last month. Here’s the breakdown of my August 2014 expense tracking:

August 2014 spendingSome observations

The majority of my expenses, $1,576.41 to be exact, is being thrown at my credit card debt. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I want that debt gone ASAP! However, since I’m still spending money on my credit cards, paying this much toward the balances feels like trying to fill up a pool that has several leaks/holes in it – it’s counter productive!

So how do I make paying off my debt more productive? I need to fill in these leaks/holes. I need to stop using my credit cards! 

Commuting costs are the next highest expense at $564.19. This amount includes gas, tolls, parking, and BART fare. Not only does my commute take up a huge chunk of my day, it takes up a huge part of my budget. Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do about this expense. For now…

I pay about $500 per month towards the house – this includes mortgage, HOA, electricity, cable, etc. Not bad considering I’m splitting all these costs with my brother, mom, and auntie. Don’t think I’m changing anything in this category quite yet.

Retirement savings sits at $463.64 per month. This is the amount I need to max out my Roth IRA for the year.

My monthly car loan payment is $372.81 and my monthly car insurance payment is $154.67Yikes. This is what happens when you finance a brand new car, folks. As far as the car loan payment, there’s not much I can do. But I do plan on re-evaluating my car insurance – whether it means paying for the year in advance to save some money, or even jumping to a new provider, I plan on lowering this monthly amount by the end of the year!

I spent $203.23 on Merchandise and $162.95 on Restaurants in August. This is above the regular $120 in cash I withdraw each month for my regular “play” money. I definitely plan on cutting back on these categories. These were all unplanned and unnecessary purchases. If I can keep these kinds of purchases down to the planned cash of $120/month, I can really save some serious money this way.

Currently, I’m throwing $200 at my student loans and I plan on keeping it that way for a while. I’ve rounded my minimum payment to the next $100 increment, so I’m overpaying right now, but it’s still a manageable level for me. No change needed.

In August, I put $100 toward my travel savings, mainly toward my “fun money” for #FinCon14! This category will definitely increase and shift in the next few weeks, especially because I have a wedding to plan and pay for!

Seeing the naked truth behind my spending was incredibly eye-opening. Personally, I don’t think I can keep tracking expenses in this way in the long run, but I know I’m going to be a lot more aware of where I spend my money.

Action items:

-Stop using credit cards!!!

-Look into lowering car insurance payments

-Keep Merchandise and Restaurant spending limited to allotted “Play Money” of $120 per month.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be updating y’all on how I plan to change my budget/expenses to accommodate for The H2B (new nickname, thanks Daniel!) and my engagement/wedding festivities.

Tracking Expenses Isn’t Easy

On my last net worth update, I declared that I would be tracking all of my expenses for the month of August.

Let me tell you right now – this is not easy. I almost want to throw in the towel already.

You see, every pay check, I withdraw a set amount of cash for “whatever I want”. Lunches that I bring back to my desk to eat, dinners with the BF after work, and any other little purchases here and there. Whenever I run out of cash, the idea is to stop spending until the next pay period. Simple, right?

However, I find myself spending much more than my allotted cash for the month. Once I run out of cash, and I see my credit card sitting in my  wallet, I let myself swipe a few times until my next pay day.

No wonder the battle with my credit card debt just never seems to end.

Even as I started blogging, I’ve always avoided really tracking expenses because 1) it’s time-consuming, and 2) I was really scared of what I would find. In general, as long as I was saving and as long as I’m making progress on some of my debt, I felt like I was already ahead of the pack. But that simply isn’t true. I never really broke down all the numbers, never truly examined where each dollar is really going. Yes, I’m saving and yes, I’m getting rid of debt – but every month I still feel like I’m drowning.

Last month, J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy asked a question I always avoided asking myself: Do You Have Money Left Over Each Month? I don’t really know the exact numbers yet, but I know that at the end of each month I’m holding my breath until my next paycheck. I know I have an emergency fund in place in case anything goes wrong, but if my spending habits don’t change, then how long will that emergency fund last me? Not too long, I’m afraid.

So, this is why I’m going to commit to tracking expenses for August – so I can see if I have any money left over to throw at my goals or even if I’m in the red for the month. I’m scared to see what I’ll find, but I know that I can only get better once I know the full picture.

You can’t get better unless you know all the problems, right?

Do you think tracking expenses every month is important? Has it helped you?

AMDG,
Lisa