In January, I declared war on our credit cards. With over $11,000 dollars in credit card debt, I mapped out a basic plan to accomplish the goal of being free of credit cards by 2012. And in the spirit of complete honesty, I’m going to share the nitty gritty details with all of you. (*Names of creditors have been changed to protect the
I’ve previously mentioned that I’m feeling a little out of control with our new financial situation.
So in March I decided to do something about it.
I scrapped my current system and went old-school with a manual excel spreadsheet. Admittedly, this was not my preference, but since Microsoft Money is no longer supported by my online banking, it seemed near impossible to find the time to manually enter every transaction.
This is March’s bottom line.
Budget $ Actual $
Remaining Funds $235.22 $(258.32)
Let me explain further… I entered our expected income and subtracted all of our expenses and got the remaining funds. As you can see above, all looks great under the budgeted dollars. However, under actual money spent? Eek! We didn’t just go over budget, we spent $258.32 more than we made. In other words, we were over budget by $493.54.
I’m aware that my manual system leaves many opportunities for errors, but I did try to adjust things to compensate. For example, the February Dingo payment didn’t actually clear until March 1st, while the March Badger payment was made on the 27th. Obviously, having two large credit card payments would throw things off, so I pretended that February’s payment was on February’s budget.
The benefit of this system is that we were able to clearly see where we were bleeding money. We were over budget by $10 in gifts. Okay, no biggie. Over by $50 in gas. Well, gas prices did jump recently. Over by $149.74 in restaurants! I know we went out a bit more than usual but jeebus. That’s a lot. And what did we buy at QT that equalled $136.97??
So this month we are cracking down. We’ve agreed upon a cash system for personal expenses. We’re committed to going out for dinner only once this month. And no more debiting at QT!!
And the War on Debt? It’s going famously. I’ve actually added the monthly credit card payments to our fixed expenses and there’s no negotiating the $1025.48 being applied to our debt repayment every month. It’s hard to see the numbers dropping so slowly, but I’m looking forward to being down to only two cards in a mere three months.
How do you track your finances?
Next post in the War on Debt: Winning!