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Archive for August, 2008

A question

August 23rd, 2008 at 08:58 am

***DISCLAIMER***
To be up front I am not calling anyone here a cheapskate.
With that said...
My question to you all is---when does one stop being frugal and become cheap, chintzy, stingy, a cheapskate??
Just some mind candySmile

How I do it

August 18th, 2008 at 11:46 pm

I have actually thought about doing this post several times but never went through with it because I didn;t want to seem a "know it all" but I finally decided that maybe the way I do things would help someone trying to get their financial life together.
First let me say I don't consider myself a financial guru or even consider myself to know all there is to know about financial matters. I have just found something that works for me.
A little more about my situation. When I was in College I fell into the trap of accepting many of the credit card offers available to students. I had worked for a few years in the real world before going to college and I came into school with credit cards as well. While in school I took out the max loans I could and was told by well meaning individuals that college is a once in a lifetime experience and to enjoy it--even if you come out of school with 30-40K in loans its like getting a new car. Needless to say, I didn't live like a college student and came out to school with a degree and massive school loan and credit card debt. I was using my school loan money to pay my credit card monthly bills and racking up more charges along the way.
So, I graduate and get a job. This job barely paid enough to live on, much less pay off debt. I soon found myself in a heap of trouble. For me Bankruptcy was the road I was forced to take. I am so against the ease of credit cards available to students on campus. I feel it is modern day loan sharking---please, why would a college student earning below the poverty line qualify for a platinum card????
Anyway, after bankruptcy things did get easier. I was now able to afford to live and even start saving. Yes, for a while I was at the mercy of having a crappy credit score but luckily things worked out for me.
One of the things I learned it to set up a budget. I recognized that if I had money in the checking account I would spend it. So budget school was in session. I also happen to be lucky enough that I have a job that pays me very will and is allowing me to pay off the debt that I could not bankrupt. A word of caution though--I hate this job with a passion so it not been the silver lining. If you don't want to work at something you despise don't go into debt!
To set up my budget I make a list of all my monthly payments--rent, insurance, groceries, gas, cc, savings, even spending money. I also note when each month the bills are due. I also note when my paydays are. I then go through the list and write down on a spreadsheet type document that I designed and start putting the budget puzzle together. I tend to do about 3-4 months at a time. That allows me to make changes as my situation changes. I can't tell you how much this keeps me on track. I also realize from reading these blogs that one situation or technique does not fit all. I know that I can;t budget down to the last penny. By that I mean, I have a spending money budget but I don't say xx for eating out, xx for entertainment, etc. I have my spending money and I am free to spend it how I want. If I choose to to blow it all at the bead store so be it. But that is what works for me. I even go as far as write down on a piece of paper in my wallet how much is left of my grocery budget, gas budget and spending budget. I even have an attitude adjustment/retail therapy savings account because I know it is something I need to occasionally do and then my budget doesn't get off track.
Its a process that works for me. One thing I see by reading these blogs is that we all took a different path to get where we were/are and we all have to find our own path to where we want to be. I like to fiddle with figuring my money--in fact it borders on obsession at timesSmile Most people don't. I can't budget down to the penny some people have to. I think our individuality give us amazing flexibility to get where we are going
Anyway, that is a little about me and how I have gotten my financial life on track. I still have a long way to go but at least I feel like I have the skills needed to get there.