Tuesday, May 09, 2006

As Promised - Here's Where My Money Goes

As promised over the weekend, I'm baring a little bit more and here's where my money goes.

There are a few things to keep in mind while looking at the chart. The things in blue are spots that concern me. The things in purple I have comments about.

Without further ado...here's where my money goes.

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The first thing that grabs my attention is the $55 that was spent for fuel in April. We didn't really travel much more than normal. I am inclined to wonder if it is related to the problem with my car – which ended up being just the gas cap not tightened properly (doh!). Or, it could just be how the fill-ups were timed (there are two fill-ups there). I will be curious to see the numbers for May.

Of course, I have to scold myself for the money spent on cigarettes. Although I roll my own and save a bundle there – it’s still no excuse. I am working on pumping myself up to become smoke-free as well as debt-free.

Clothing I wanted to point out because there was above average spending in February. Something that I do is stock up on clothing after season. I buy lots of hats, gloves, snowpants, etc. when they are cheap on clearance. Where I live – it's pretty darn cold and snowy in the winter so these are necessities.

Diapers – just wanted to point out the big ZERO for April. Why the change? My son is potty-trained – WOOHOO!!! A big financial gain there :)

Dining, oh dining. I'm not happy with the numbers here. It's not like we go to fancy places, so we do get more bang for our buck. April's spending was from going out to eat 6 times. But really I would like to see that number around $80. That is a generous estimate for eating out once a week as a treat.

Entertainment had a large jump in March. In pursuit of quality family time and things for us to do, we took a trip to Walmart to purchase board games for the family. In total, there were 7 games purchased. Notice the big zero for April? Well, funny story behind that – there is a looming late fee at the video store of 99 cents. I guess we just don't want to face the music and have stayed away – LOL.

Ah, the finance charges - the cost of my credit cards. I look forward to that amount shrinking instead of going up. The big increase for April is partly due to timing with balance transfers. There's also the fact that I transferred a balance from the wrong account and instead of paying 0% I am now paying 5.9%. A costly mistake I am sure not to make again.

You have to eat, but for a family of three – the grocery spending is way too high. A lot of it has to do with the family's pop habit. There has also been many things purchased that were considered "treats" with the increase in income in January. A decision has already been made to go grocery shopping twice a month and at the cheapest store in the area (cough – Walmart) and stock up with spending around $100 a trip. Then, purchase some things we may run out on a weekly basis (bread, milk, eggs, etc) at the local grocery store. I'll also check out the weekly ads for the local grocery stores to look for good specials. This has to be toned down.

I bet everyone noticed that large household expense in March. That was due to getting a much-needed stove and purchasing new pots and pans to use with the stove. We also purchased two sets of dishes for $8/each and two new sets of silverware at $5/each as a mood-booster. We really didn't need them, but it is a treat to have matching dishes and silverware and the price was right. As for the normal expenses in the household category, they include disposable items (toilet paper and paper towel) as well as cleaners, air fresheners, stamps, etc. If there is interest, I can post a breakdown of the categories because I condensed it down so I could take a screen shot of the report. You all may think I'm crazy with how detailed I keep my household category (around 20 sub-categories). But, if you are interested I will post it.

Another category that would be wonderful to get rid of is Interest Expense. That's the interest that is being paid on the school loans, the auto loan and the mortgage. I will live with those numbers for now, but they are going to be attacked once the credit cards are paid off ;)

I am very upset with that late fee in March. That's when I paid that credit card late by one day. It did fuel my motivation and I ended up showing that card a thing or two and paid it off ;)

I have been trying to get my electric bill down and we have been trying to reduce it to no avail. I think I know what the problem is. We have an older freezer down in the basement. We really don't use it for much and we probably could get a smaller one that uses less energy. I think I am going to talk the hubby into letting me unplug it for a month and see what happens. I really would like to see this bill no higher than $60/month.

I wanted to point out the gas bill because I am proud of the numbers here. Even though we have a 100 year-old home, we were fortunate enough to find one that is well-insulated (blown-in) and one that keeps the main room of the home relatively warm. This winter we kept the thermostat around 62 degrees during the day and around 56 at night. My goal before next winter is to install a programmable thermostat because a few nights I would forget to turn down the heat.

Ok. You've gotten this far so you must be interested in the above. So I will let you in on something. There are 4 categories missing, but their amounts are included in the Total Expenses. These categories have to do with taxes and such and I guess I do not feel comfortable having those out there for all to see. I hope everyone understands about that.

Now, if you have any questions or comments – feel free to leave them below. Or, if you'd like to ask me a question in private, feel free to email me. I do not use emails as post topics (unless given permission to do so) – so anything you say will just be between you and I. I'd like this to be a learning experience for all.

Now I'm all excited to see what May will bring :)
Post included in the 48th week of the Carnival of Personal Finance over at 2million.

9 comments:

mapgirl said...

Thanks for sharing! I was wondering what software you used. I don't quite like the way Quicken defines expenses since certain types of finance charges make my cash flow come out strangely. I always look like I'm behind even when I'm keeping all my payments on schedule. It's very odd.

Tricia said...

I am an avid Quicken fan, but I tweak it to my liking ;) My background is in accounting, so I tend to think of my finances in business terms.

For my reports I actually export them to Excel so I can hide the gazillion subcategories I have for everything.

Andrew - Money Supply & Debt Blog said...

Dining is probably the top thing on the list you can control. When I was a kid, I could count on a single hand how many times we went out to eat that year!

Flexo said...

Thanks for sharing with such detail! I think next month I'll expand my expense reports into Quicken's subcategories like you do.

frugal said...

Hi Tricia,
You really have a good handle on your finance. The level of details is impressive.

I don't mean to intrude your finances, but I did notice one thing: your finance charge is going up slowly. Using your credit card balance from NetWorthIQ, I think the finance charges are running at almost 16% APR. That's is probably too high, I think.

Best luck.

frugal

freedumb said...

It's always impressive to see expenses broken down. Gives such a clear picture...so when ya gonna quit the smokes??? :) FF

Tricia said...

andrew - yes, dining out is a big one. It could be eliminated completely, but treats are nice. Plus, it gets us out of the house for a little bit :)

flexo - I love subcategories but most of mine I did "hide" on my report so it could fit for a screenshot. For me, the categories let me zoom in easily on problem spots.

frugal - don't worry, you aren't intruding at all. I welcome the questions. My finance charges have increased recently (which reminds me I have to update my finance charge chart). One of my credit cards recently raised to almost 16% and the other big one is over 16% so your math is correct. I recently did do a balance transfer, so for May I should see the savings from completing it.

It is way too high and my one credit card was 7.9% at one point (without balance transfers). It just kept going up and up. I've called to try to get it lowered - but I couldn't threat to take my business away because I would have been flat out telling a lie. Not many new credit cards have come along offering a high enough balance.

A big change in my FICO score is expected soon (I'll know May 26) so I am hoping that will help and I can get a card or loan to complete a balance transfer.

Thanks everyone for commenting! :)

Tricia said...

freedumb - yeah, yeah, yeah - I hear ya! I want to quit the smokes soon. I see you are doing well with your quitting and that great! Congrats to you :)

Lisa said...

You mentioned your family's pop habit. We were long time 12pk of Coke or Pepsi folks. Where we live, the local grocery store occasionally gouges for $4.69 for a 12pk of Coke! Sheesh! And that doesn't include the 5c deposit per can! So, recently we have been converting to "cheap pop". We have been buying only 2-liter bottles of "cheap pop" (here, it's Adirondack), unless we can get Coke/Pepsi for less than $3 per 12pk. We drink less of it (small glass at a time) and we don't leave around 1/2 drank (drunk?) cans! And, generic cola really ain't so bad!