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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm out of practice. . . . .!

August is my month! My month to get back on board with tracking my money (what comes in, what goes out, and what stays in savings. . . .). So far, it's been very difficult to get 'back on the wagon'. Once I stopped paying attention to where every penny was going, boy did they GO! June and July were just a whirlwind of socializing, school, travel, and spending. I've had a great time, but my bank accounts have definitely felt the difference. I didn't understand what a huge influence my money-tracking ways have had until I stopped doing it for a couple of months.

One thing that truly reminded me of how important this really is was a recent appointment I had with a mortgage counselor. I've been considering renting my house out, and either purchasing (hence the mortgage application) or renting a place "closer-in", meaning closer to downtown Portland. I love my cozy house and yard, but am getting tired of being so far from work, from school, and from friends.

Anyway, in the course of this appointment, it became clear to me that my money-tracking ways over the past eight months have given me a much better sense of how much money I really have to work with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The counselor gave me a 'payment shock' worksheet to complete, in which the mortgage applicant estimates the cost of the mortgage in combination with other monthly bills such as utilities, food, and entertainment. I was able to very quickly estimate how much I spend in each of these areas, because I now know how much I 'average' per month in spending. It felt great! I described my expense worksheets to the counselor, and she said that I'm in the minority---most people really don't know how much they're spending on necessities, let alone on fun stuff like clothing and travel.

That definitely felt good. For about five minutes, until I realized how easy it had been to let my good habits fall by the wayside once the sun came out in Oregon. Will summer always be my most difficult 'frugal' time? I've definitely spent much, much, more on entertainment than probably during the previous eight months combined. And 'forgetting' to write these expenditures down or enter them in my worksheet was probably just my subconscious making sure I didn't start to feel guilty about living my life and having fun (at a cost).

So, once again, now that it's August, I'm back on the frugal bandwagon. I may spend more than I did in the rainy months of fall and winter, but I'm going to try to keep track of that spending, regardless of the guilt factor.


marci357 said...

One day at a time - and everyday's a good day to restart :)

Now that you got that positive reinforcement from the mortgage counselor, maybe that will help you on your way. Good luck!

Erin said...

You know what's weird--I am absolutely more of a "go out and shop" in the winter months than I am in the summer months. :)

I found you via Keri and had to check you out since I'm a PDXer myself :)

Finally Frugal said...

Hi Marci! Yes, the mortgage counselor definitely made me start thinking about my options---no decisions yet, but at least I've started the process so if and when I move, I'll be ready! It's great to hear from you. . . (-:

Erin: Yay! Another PDXer! You know, I've never met a 'winter shopper'---for me, at least, when the sun comes out I start thinking about cute sundresses, strappy sandals, and all sorts of other divine (but expensive) things. Sigh.

marci357 said...

Well, when the sun comes out in Tillamook it is NOT warm enough this year for cute sundresses and strappy sandals - this place would be better for your budget! Plus, there's really no places to shop except Freddies - so it's Very easy to hang on to one's money :) haha!

Erin said...

lol and my fashion favorites are sweaters, scarves, jeans, boots, hats and fun jackets/coats! God Bless Value Village (fabulous thrift shop for those not in PDX--also known as Savers in other parts of the country)!

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