Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How Did I Get Here? – Part IV: Making Choices and Cutting the Crap

The most important part of making a budget was to look at my cash flow, see the big picture, and then choose the things that were most important to me.

Once I’d created the initial spreadsheet with all of my incoming and outgoing money, I took a look at what I needed and what I wanted, and then I snipped away at the list, until I felt comfortable with balance between the amount I could allocate to debt repayment and the amount I spent on wants. Basically I cut out all the crap that didn’t make me that happy anyway, and kept the things that were really important to me.

I did keep a few things that some people might consider frivolous and unnecessary, but I got rid of a lot too, and those few unnecessary things I kept are what will keep me sane in the next few years.

Some things I gave up:

  • Acrylic nails
  • Pedicures
  • Eating out
  • DVD on TV sets (mostly – I’ll probably still buy one once in a while)
  • Extended cable
  • Comic books
  • Subscription to Everyday with Rachael Ray
  • Subscription to Cosmopolitan

Some things I kept:

  • TiVo
  • Basic cable
  • Netflix
  • Subscription to Entertainment Weekly
  • Subscription to TV Guide
  • Plane tickets to visit my family

I keep myself in check by only buying what I planned to buy in my spreadsheet. Even if my needs/wants change in the middle of the month (and they often do), I put the expense into my spreadsheet before a penny goes anywhere.

I also use specific enough categories so that there’s no mistaking what the money is for, i.e. I don’t use a miscellaneous category because I feel like that hides what the money really bought. A latte is a latte, and those little “miscellaneous” things add up.

Using this system gives me peace of mind about what I spend my money. I never have to feel guilty about spending it, and I enjoy my purchases more because I know that money doesn’t need to be spent anywhere else.

This post is part of my Financial Revolution Series, which is my personal financial story. Each post gives a piece of the story, detailing how I got into debt and how I turned things around.

Next Time on TVG&M: TV Girl's Mexican Rice Dish


Matt and Carol said...

A latte? Really?

Well, okay - I don't like coffee, but as long as you do it 'on paper, on purpose'...

Hmmm... I've commented on every one so far... Wonder how long I can keep that up :)?

Still proud of you.. [let me know if you get tired of hearing that ;)]

TV Girl said...

LOL Those should be a bullet under "things I gave up" cause I don't buy them any more. I guess it fits under the eating out bullet though. I just used it as an example at the end, cause "the latte factor" is kind of the default thing for anything small that you spend money on that adds up to a lot over time.

I looooove coffee, but the free coffee at work is more than fine for me.

I wondered how long you would keep that up. There's no prize, you know. ;) But really, who could ever get tired of hearing that their friends are proud of them?

Matt and Carol said...

It may have been - I just noticed 'latte' - I've been hunched over a printer for over 4 hours... my brain is a little muddled *g*. I have a little bit of cash that I could use for lattes... if I drank them... Instead they go for McFlurries or things of that nature! Or, I will have that kind of cash on Friday - in our first no consumer debt, no medical bills pay period!

*whispers* I get an email whenever you update *end whisper*

And hmmm speaking of email... don't you owe me an email with a file in it? *ducks and runs*