Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finances for the weary

As I mentioned in my previous post, I attended a developmental training called "Surviving Tough Economic Times." I was worried the class wasn't going to be any good, but it was the BEST training I have ever been too (I work in a business and finance office for research so it's all about $$$ around here). I realized that I have a long way to go to get things straight with my finances, but there is hope! I'm going to share w/you some things I learned and I'll try to be as brief as possible but there was a lot of information. Some of this is common sense, but it's good to be reminded of these things (if you're in your teens or still living w/your parents take note, even though this may not apply to you, it will one day!):
  • Pay your bills on time, EVERY time. The best way to ruin your credit score is to repeatedly turn in late payments.
  • Openly communicate with your family (or significant others if you share expenses) about your financial situation. Don't depend on just ONE member of the family to take care of the finances. Get you children involved in these discussions (teach them good spending habits FIRST and you'll save them some big headaches later).
  • Be HONEST (I have trouble w/this one) about your situation. Are you in debt? FACE IT. Do not ignore your debts b/c guess what? If you don't take control of your situation, your money is going to control you. If you're in BIG trouble, seek help.
  • Keep TRACK of your money. Every bit of it, for a while, until you can come up w/a good spending plan or budget. I've done this before (I actually have an online service that does it for me) and it's really difficult. Stick to it though. If you don't know how you spent those $200 you thought you had, there's a problem.
  • Re-evaluate your VALUES. Find out what's important for you to spend you money on. This is different for everyone. For me, clothing and decor is going to be higher up on my list than some other people. That's OK. If you KNOW where your money is going and you feel good about it than great! I was not ok w/ the money I was spending on cigarettes every month so... I QUIT. It was hard but I remind myself that saving $4 a day saves me $1,460 in 1 year. That's a vacation!
  • Set up an emergency fund. I do not have one, but I'm going to work on it. Some of what's gotten me into trouble is not having a fund I can dip into when one of the dogs gets sick or my car breaks down. If I had an emergency fund, I wouldn't have to use my credit for these things.
I'm going to work really hard to get the ball rolling for better financial health. I've already taken one step: I called AT&T a few minutes ago and canceled the internet on my Blackberry (gasp!!). I don't really use it that much and it's costing me $30 a/mo which I'm going to start putting towards my debt. This blog isn't called "Down and Out" chic for nothing:) I'm going to give frequent updates on how I'm doing b/c I need some accountability.
There was a ton more that I learned, but I think that good for now. Tell me what you think. How do you save money? Is there something you can cut out that could make a difference in your finances? Is financial health important to you?


UU said...

great post!!! thanks for sharing!

Heather said...

Great all sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Callie Grayson said...

Fantastic post!
I can say that I am debt free. BUT it took the last 8 years to do it!!! I made a plan and stuck to it! It is hard but once you start and see how much you are saving and how you feel knowing that you don't have a debt is soooo worth it.
I save money by having my pay check divided into 3 different accounts, 1 savings I never touch, 1 saving for spending WHEN I need it and my checking for bills.
Good for you by starting with that $30.00 a month. Yeah, i will be here routing for you!

kuhkjhkh said...

FABULOUS post! It was very helpful to read!
Hubs and I just made a budget the other night to help see where our money is going. It really helps a lot to know how much you can spend in which areas instead of just swiping a card! We even put a spot on our budget for savings so that we make sure to put some money in there every month!

Good luck! Glad I found your blog!

Christina said...

callie- thank you for sharing. it brings me encouragement to know that you can be debt free (even if it takes a while).
ruggy13- so glad you stopped by and you like it. good job on the budget! i need to a spot for savings.

Claire Kiefer said...

After 4 years of private college and 3 years of grad school, I am in over my head in debt. :( I think I'd feel better about it if I had a manageable schedule for repayment . . . currently I scramble from deferments to forbearances to ignoring phone calls from the Dept. of Ed--yikes!

One of my biggest weaknesses/flaws is that I am really bad with money. It's not that I'm super extravagant or anything, but I HATE math and I hate being meticulous/organization . . . I just like to operate whimsically . . . on a feeling . . . haha! This makes dealing with money incredibly hard, and explains why I FREQUENTLY don't know where that $200 went (most often it went to a pair of designer shoes I found second-hand or on sale and cocktails/tapas with my girlfriends).

So my question is: what is the online service you use to help you manage your money? Teach me, sister!


Christina said...

claire- the website is someone at work recommended it to me and i have been very pleased.

Christina said...

I'm so glad I found your blog! I love this, it's very good advice and something that I'm working on right now. Tracking expenses has been so helpful to me so far, it's crazy how quickly money can vanish when you don't pay attention.

Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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