Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reflections: Finances

Finances have been a thorn in my side for a very long time. I have been only making a steady income for the last 20 months. Before that, I made very little money working sporadic hours every week. I have mentioned on here plenty of times that I have put myself on a very strict budget and it sucks.

When I went off to college, I enjoyed my freedom and shopping a little too much. I opened credit cards and went shopping all the time! I didn't have a car payment or insurance payment and room and board was covered in my tuition. Why not shop? Every time the companies would increase my limit because I was so good at paying the minimum every month, I would spend more. Whenever I needed something for school, I would use my student loan money. That's what it was for, right?

Well, fast forward to my junior year of college and the companies raise the minimum that is due every month. Now, I was having a very hard time paying that new minimum and paying for gas. I spent a lot of gas because I had transferred schools and drove 30 miles every day to and from school/work.

Then, I graduated college and got my first "real" job. I had started my career and I was excited. I have a set salary now, so I know exactly how much I I will be paid every payday. Great!

Well, here was the problem. I had 5 credit cards and 3 student loans that were going to come due in 4 months. On top of that, work is 35 miles from home and that is a lot of gas. Not to mention little things that you need every once in a while. You know what I am talking about, right?

So, here I was last September with 3 student loans, 5 credit cards, a lot of medical bills (my insurance hadn't kicked in yet), and other little bills that I had accumulated. Basically, I was screwed. My paychecks barely covered my costs every month. In fact, they didn't cover all the costs, so I was getting late fees attached. That sucked.

I decided to put an end to it all and started a budget. I created a spreadsheet and pulled out all of my bills to determine the due dates and really spent a lot of time figuring everything out. I stuck to it and began to make progress. I was able to pay off 3 credit cards, the medical bills and the little bills. I now have acquired a new car, so I have car payments and insurance.

Almost all of my bills have been set up on automatic payments, so it's easier to budget. I have also budgeted just how much I am allowed to spend on shopping each month. There are times when I fall off the wagon and spend too much on certain things, then there is a moment (or few) of panic, but I do the best I can. I am making progress, although I'm not where I want to be yet. My student loan payments are insanely high every month! I looked into consolidating just recently, but I would be paying more in the long run to only save $30 a month. That wasn't worth it.

I know I am not the only one with money troubles, but sometimes it feels like I can't get caught up, no matter how hard I try. Like I said, I do my best, but sometimes its too frustrating. I am looking forward to the day when those last credit cards are paid off and I have made a dent in the student loan payments. My car will be paid off in 5 years and it gets a lot better gas mileage, so I don't spend quite as much on gas each month. I still can't afford a place of my own yet, but I am looking forward to that day too.


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1 comment:

Gwen said...

Finances kick everyone's butt from time to time. You are working towards being in control and thats the most important thing. XOXO