Monday, June 29, 2009

The 6 Month Report

So, in 43 minutes, it will be the last day of the 6th month of the year... close enough for me to feel as though it is time for a 6 month report on my New Year's Resolution... which was to "spend less money and reduce my debts". In reviewing the post I made about said resolution in January, I can safely say that a lot of the changes I've made have not only become second nature, but have really made a difference in helping me reach my goals.

To briefly review, I first took a look at all of my bills and cut/reduced what I could - quit the gym, changed my cell phone plan, reduced my cable package and Netflix package, and so on.

After trimming whatever bills I could, I decided to write down every penny I spent. I have been doing this every single day since January 1, and it has been very illuminating. Here are a few things I have learned:

1. Coffee and bagels are a slippery slope, and the few bucks add up. Better to make coffee at home, and if you really "need" a bagel, buy them at the grocery store.
2. Writing things down sort of automatically makes me spend less - you can't be in denial about where the money is going.
3. I spend about $350 a month on groceries, eating out, and entertainment. This is actually pretty good, in my opinion. I also think that this is a lot less than I used to spend - again, keeping track seems to be helping.
4. It is a lot harder to earn money back to pay off a credit card bill than it is to just not spend it in the first place. Is that splurge on a fancy new outfit REALLY worth it? Possibly every once in a while, but definitely not every time the urge strikes.
5. My desire to buy new stuff has been seriously dampened. This goes for yarn, too. I've spent about $60 on yarn all year so far, and all of that yarn was either required to finish a project I had already started, or was for a gift I did not have appropriate yarn for.

As for making extra money, I have done various odd jobs, as described before on this blog. The one odd job I continue to do is test knitting. Check this out - I'm on my 19th "for-pay" knitting project since the beginning of the year! Amazingly, during that time, I have also managed to complete 13 projects for myself, including 3 sweaters, 7 pairs of socks, and various other projects. Not too shabby, I must say. I can only imagine how small my stash would be right now if I had been only knitting with my own yarn!

And, finally, I should mention that I am keeping up with my "debt pay-down" plan, as well. I am optimistic that at some point within the next 36 months, I will be able to say that I no longer have a student loan or a second mortgage. Now, that sounds really nice!

So, that's the 6 month status report. I am optimistic that the rest of the year will go well, too. Wish me luck!


knittingknirvana said...

Wow!!! I am so, so, so impressed with your progress!! Congratulations!

Are you using a particular program to track your spending or just old fashioned writing it down on paper?

Could you talk more about your test knitting? How did you get into it? How are the deadlines--are they reasonable or are you rushing to get done in time. How is the pay? Are you enjoying what you are knitting? I would love to hear more!

sukeyknits said...

Congrats - I did the same out of college for a year or so - wrote down every single expenditure and balanced and tracked the finances each month. It took some time, but you're right, that it discourages some of the spending since you don't want to deal with recording the amount. I did find out that one of my trends was when I tightened the belt, I'd reduce overall spending but the spending on others category would go up. I guess I figured I could justify buying something for someone else. May your path to being debt free (sans mortgage) be smooth and swift.

aweso said...

that sounds great! way to go. those are some good points, too.
boy, i wish i could say that about student loans!