Friday, 9 August 2013

Getting to Grips with Finances

Whilst I was living with Mutti and Vati I was saving a lot of money each month. I didn't even bother to budget. I literally spent money on my car and phone, and that was it. I'm not a big spender, and I normally talk myself out of buying anything frivolous, or, you know, anything at all.

Now I'm a home owner and I have to pay a mortgage, utility bills, council tax, food, and all these other fun things. I'm trying to upgrade my home and furnish it and decorate it whilst making sure I have enough money to actually live. And I'm doing it out of one pay cheque (yes, Americans, this is the real way to spell "check") as I'm on my own.

Doing internet banking is all well and good, but unless you total everything up you don't really get a clear view of exactly how much you're spending. I decided I wanted to know the ins and outs, so to speak. As I've only been living here three months I'm still discovering many things that I don't have (remember that time I didn't have a BBQ or a vegetable peeler or a bottle opener?)... Perhaps not 'needs', but they definitely make life easier. And all these things have been testing my budget.

I decided that I wanted to write things down rather than use Excel. For some reason I feel less accountable on a computer. Does that make sense? Anyway, I've been using my new Budget Book to write down everything I spend, and knowing that I have to do that helps me reign myself in when I'm out shopping.

I summarised my spending in a pie chart (minus actual figures of course) and I was actually fairly pleased. A few bills were higher than I had hoped this month (groceries was high as I hosted a party and bought a lot of food and alcohol, and my broadband/phone/TV is higher than normal as it was my first direct debit and included about 6 weeks instead of 4), but overall I kept within budget and still had a little bit left over. I can't wait for the bills to all settle down, and I'm definitely going to keep writing down what I'm spending.

How do you keep control of your spending? Do you use a program, write it all down, or do you just hope for the best?


  1. We use Quicken on our computer to keep track of our spending and budget. It has been very helpful, although we have kind of thrown the budget out the window the past few months while trying to get things done on our house (hello new windows, siding, and gutters!).

  2. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I created that tracks my checking account and my credit cards. I've stuck with it for almost 2 years now and I love it. I'd feel so lost without it - I always know how much money I have. I also do it out for 6 months so I know where I'm at financially for at least the next six months. It helps me to not spend money on things I don't need.