Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Help - How can I reduce my food spending?

Here's a look at my spending in the last 3 months.  (DM me on twitter if you want my template.)  Again, I'll be adding to this every 30-90 days so I can get a good view of my spending over time.  Now, there's a website that helps you do this, too called mint.com.  I tried it, not the biggest fan.  It doesn't give me flexibility to deal w/ a joint account (again, I multiplied it by .5).  Also, I can't create charts for single accounts in mint.com.

But I digress...  Here's my overall look:

If I take out Mortgage and Condo Assessments, here's what it looks like:

If I combine Restaurant and Groceries into 1 Food category:

Yikes, food is my biggest expense after housing!  21% of my spending went to food.

Help!  Give me ideas for decreasing my food spending!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Expenses Categorized

I have 3 accounts that I use for paying for things. 1) I have a personal checking account at Bank A. 2) I have a joint checking account at Bank B. 3) I have a credit card w/ Bank C (I pay off the balance every month). Bank A only let me download the last 3 months of transactions. Bank B let me download as much as I want (I went back to 1/1/2010), and Bank C let me get 6 months worth of credit card transactions. So I'm putting a note on my calendar to download my statements every 30 days and add them to my running tally.

This all means, to get an accurate picture, I could only look at 3 months of spending for now, since about mid-December 2010. I took all of my 2 personal accounts and multiplied everything in my joint account by 50%, put them into Excel, categorized each transaction, then did a pivot table and a pivot chart. Wanna know how to do this or get a copy of my template? DM me on twitter (@messyfinances). I'm working on a way to contact me from the blog, too.

So I have all my expenses categorized. I'm going to focus on 1 category for improvement for now - food away from home (about 6% of my total spending). I spend way too much buying lunch at restaurants or fast food joints every day plus I/we don't cook at home enough and order out for dinner way too much. Food away from home was my biggest expense after mortgage and a couple other items that can't so easily be reduced. Add that to grocery spending, and food as a whole makes up a huge percent of my spending.

I need to now compare this spending to my income and see what I currently have left over each month. Also, I haven't figured my taxes yet! I need to do these two things this week!

I'll figure out how to share my templates on here shortly... until then, like I said, DM me on twitter (@messyfinances) for now!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stage one: figuring out where my money goes!

Over the past few months, when working on mindless tasks at work, I've been catching up on The Suze Orman Show on iTunes (free podcast - woo hoo!). It has me in a mild panic, as I'm 36 years old and I know my finances are NOT where they need to be.

In my last panic, a path became clear to me. Before I can think about what I need to do, where I should be, how I should manage my money... I need to figure out how much money I have coming in, and how much I have going out. On top of that, I need to learn WHERE it's going. I have a good idea of how much I have coming in, so I need to right now figure out how much is going out and where it's going.

For now I'm not going to worry about changing anything. I'm just going to dig into my bank and credit card statements and figure out where my money is going and how much is going out.

Here's my general situation:

I have an ok job. Make enough money. I have a mortgage on a condo w/ my partner. I have a checking account and a savings account. I have a 401k through work. (All of those are WAY underfunded.) Also, my partner and I have 1 joint checking account that we both pay into and then pay our mutual bills with (and use when we go out for dinner and/or drinks sometimes too).

By the end of March 2011, I will have 1) filed my taxes and 2) figured out how much of my income I'm spending and on what. I will then share via my blog what worked best for me to complete this stage!