Read the super sweet post from Stephe on the post below - I feel the love! Right back at ya! :)
I read all comments, they make my day :) She asked a good question...
Did you grow up learning to be frugal?
The answer - no way. I grew up in a very credit card heavy buy this now sort of household. I didn't have even the urge to be frugal until I was 25 or so. I had just split with my ex and decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I knew that I would have to be really careful with my money or I wouldn't be able to afford it. I had some cash off to the side that paid off the car and did a down payment on this house but my day to day money was zero zilch nada. Ever gone to the gas station and saw that someone bought $3 of gas? Well that was me lol
I remember deciding I couldn't afford to live in Nashville anymore and I needed to move back home and finish up my degree. I stayed at my mom's house for about a year while I started community college and house hunting. I scoured thrift stores to sell stuff on Ebay and I scrimped and saved every penny. I was making a whole $6 an hour and working 20 hours a week. I was BROKE BROKE BROKE! I remember what a treat it was to get a sandwich at Subway on campus. I used to sell Disney cards on Ebay and make $1. I would ship things once a week and be tickled with the $15-20 I had earned that week. Did I mention I was broke? :)
I quickly learned the art of money shuffling. I managed to rack up 22K in student loans while I was in school BUT I also almost paid off the house (making $6 an hour). I would take as many loans as they would give me and I would pay off the mortgage first thing then use my $6 an hour to live on. I would ask teachers if the textbook was really needed and they would often loan me one. I would buy books on half.com and turn around and sell them back to the bookstore and make $10. I remember when I got a collections job (I know boo hiss) and made $11 an hour. I felt RICH lol I just didn't know what to do with all this cash lol
So when I got a "real" job several years ago that started me out at 30K I was just giddy with all this wealth! lol I made my final payment on the house Jan 31, 2005 a couple of months after my 30th birthday.
Back when I was married we had a lot of money. We also had a lot of stuff that came with payments. It was nothing for us to have huge car loans on sports cars. But there was some stress with the debt. I tell you now (and please listen if you are young and just now getting into your own finances), there is nothing like going to bed at night not thinking about a bill you forgot to pay. Or not having the money right then and there to pay it. Crazy how we made almost three times what I make now and had a very reasonable mortgage and the rest was just blown. And I couldn't tell you where it went either.
How I track my spending now is easy. I use an excel sheet named for the month. I set up my columns based on these categories and numbers:
Groceries - $160
Eating out - $40
Utilities - $234 (student loan,power,water,cable/internet,life insurance,cell phone)
Cats - $50
Baby loot - $20
Gas - $60
CVS OOP - $15
Walgreens OOP - $5
Baby savings account - $70
Property tax savings account - $54
2008 Vacation savings account- $50
2009 vacation savings account- $40
New car savings account account- $60
House and car insurance savings account - $36
Disney 2012 savings account - $10
Christmas 2008 Savings account - $30
Christmas 2009 Savings account - $15
Misc - $151
Whenever I buy something, I would choose the column that fit it best. Like the groceries yesterday., I put on March because it really was March money I was spending. I do an auto sum on the column to see how much I have spent. Then at the top of each column I take what I've spent and subtract it from what I am suppose to spend. Does that make sense? I also have a tally on everything I have spent for the month and how much more I can spend before I am in the red. It doesn't really matter how you pay for things using my system, cash or credit it is your choice. If you are honest to yourself and write down every single expense then when that CC bill comes in the mail, you'll have the cash in checking to pay it off. Easy huh?
Whew - ok so that is a long book like answer to a very short question :) I still have the same little house and the same little car 8 years later. I take it back in next week for the 90K tune up (they had to order a timing belt) and I'd be happy as a clam if it lasted another 90K. I'll tell you right now, those struggling to make ends meet and wanting to adopt a child...having a baby around is way better than any car you'll ever drive!
I think I'm done rambling now. This post was so long I should leave it up for a couple of days lol
OH I almost forgot. I got my tax return today, my adoption reimbursement today and my paycheck today. Whew! My account went from $200 to..well, a LOT more! The only disappointment I had with the adoption credit was they took tax out of it. And probably my 401K contribution. Normally that wouldn't of mattered but I had plans for the $ and I was missing $500.
I got my deposit from Paypal for all my Pay Per Post ads that I've done on the site then transferred it into my ING adoption fund, thanks so much for everyone that has signed up or visited the blog :) I can't believe it is so high for such a small amount of work!