Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My New Habits

Ever since my debt-free awakening this summer, I’ve formed some new habits.

Books are definitely my weakness. I have my own library in my house – literally. I’ve always loved libraries, but my two nearest ones never had what I was looking for. I work in a larger town, so I got a card at the library in that town and they have everything! I used to get a lot of my books off or, but now I get them for free at the library. Plus, I have gone through my books and put a lot of them on to weed through the stuff I don’t want and hopefully make a little cash.

When it was warm out, I line-dried a lot of my clothes. I love the way the clothes smell, especially my sheets. In fact, I hung my sheets out even before my frugal days. Now that the weather is getting colder, I’ll have to go back to the dryer.

Now here’s something I’m going to catch a lot of crap for, but I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me when people who have debt are making fun of me! The other day I was reading about dryer sheets. I’ve always hated spending money on dryer sheets. I’ve tried to buy store brand, but my clothes were still full of static. Now I buy the name brand ones, but…I cut them in half. I really do. And they work just the same. Now I get double the dryer sheets for the price! Go ahead, try it.

I keep a spreadsheet showing the each month’s income and expenses. I update it every single day. I always know where our monthly expenses are down to the penny. The top of the spreadsheet starts with zero and ends with zero. That means that I add in all the money we have coming in, and list each expense item by item. At the end of the month, I transfer $500 to our savings account and send all remaining money toward a debt. We do not allow ourselves to go over. We do not allow ourselves to touch our savings. We never spend more than we earn – ever! If you want a copy of my spreadsheet for your own personal use, let me know and I’ll email it to you (minus my figures, of course!)

Online Banking
I’m addicted. I access my online accounts at least daily. I use the online access to my checking account to update my spreadsheet. You may question why I just don’t use the online account instead of the spreadsheet. There are some things that cross months. For example, I had a paycheck hit my account last week, but that money isn’t going to be used until October. My spreadsheet allows me to keep everything month-by-month.

Eating Out
This is the hardest part. To be honest, I have no idea how much we were spending on eating out before this summer. I really don’t want to know, either. We would order pizza at least once a week and I ate out for lunch every single day. Plus, I would stop at the gas station and buy a pop every morning. Now I take my lunch to work every day. I keep pop in the fridge instead of buying them one at a time for twice as much. We don’t “grab a pizza” on the way home from work anymore. We very rarely eat out. Now that we’re used to it, it’s no big deal. But the first two months were a HUGE deal. It was hard.

It’s time to take charge of your money! What are you waiting for?