Harder Than It Looks

Getting out of debt is a lot harder than it looks.

Too many blogs and webpages talk about how easy it is to manage your finances, reduce your debt, blah blah blah.

I’m a victim of this as well. I continuously posted about how easy it became. I have decided that it’s not so easy anymore.

First of all, tracking your finances is a lot more cumbersome than I had initially predicted. It’s easy to use Quicken Online or Mint.com to track your finances, however these only represent your credit or debit transactions. No luck if you are spending cash.

Maintaining records of spending cash is a pain too. Sometimes I only spend 2 to 3 dollars here and there, and to be truly efficient, I need to track that spending. Many times I find myself losing the receipt or simply forgetting to track a purchase.

Changing spending habits isn’t easy either. Many people will tell you to start making life changes and figuring out ways to save money. This is true, important, and obvious. Here comes the saying – easy to talk the walk, but how about walk the walk. The only thing I have remained relatively consistent on is cutting back on eating out, and bringing my lunches to school. All of my other expenses are mostly things that I can not avoid.

Overall, I think that I am doing well, it’s just harder than before.

Here’s the financial situation right now. I had to spend $315 to fix my car, which really set me back. My boss gave me another advance on my payment to help me pay for my car, so I have to adjust the budget to accommodate for that. Bills have been paid on time, which is good, but I’m not quite sure how I am going to put together the bills for March. Thanks to the auto repair, my savings took a major hit. I also had to skip a week of paying down my credit card, and may have to skip this week as well. It is still being paid on time.

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5 Comments on “Harder Than It Looks”

  1. I don’t think anyone ever said it’s easy… just that there are certain steps you can take to get out of debt (make more money, spend less, pay down debt). It’s just like there are certain steps to losing weight (eat less and better, exercise more) but that’s certainly not easy for most of us either.

    At this point, your income is pretty low so it’s going to be hard to get ahead. Developing habits of recording your spending (I have a friend who keeps a spiral notebook in her car for recording those 2-3 dollar things as soon as she does them) and reducing impulsive behavior (dinner out with a friend or stopping to get lunch while you run errands) is really what you should be working on now. And, obviously staying current on everything.

    When you graduate I imagine you’ll be able to find a better-paying job, or at the very least you’ll have those school hours freed up to work more at your current jobs (or find another “in the meantime” job) so your income will almost certainly go up a lot. THEN by not increasing your spending, you’ll be living way below your means and your debt will start to fall off you like I wish my last 20 pounds would fall off of me. hehe.

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, and being conscious of your situation really is the first step. At this point I think it’s mainly an issue of income. You’ll get there!

  2. Bart Says:

    What a pain. And I agree that it’s not easy tracking cash expenditures. I’ve been trying to keep all receipts this month, and the other night I realized I had, by habit, not taken the receipt for at least a couple of transactions. Old habits die hard.

    But they will die. And frugality/debt-freeness will prevail. 🙂

  3. Kenny Says:

    Please take this as ‘suggestive’ even though it might sound a bit challenging:

    The question is how much do you care about getting out of debt…..Here is a question:

    > How many quotes did you get before getting your car repaired?

    If you answer is ‘I went to my trusted mechanic’, or ‘XYZ Repair shop is next to my and I always go there’ or ‘I do not have time to *shop* multiple places’ or ‘It really needed to be fixed immediately’, then:

    a. I would say that you are NOT penny pinching to get out of your situation.
    b. You should challenge every cost/charge/expense item so that you can start paying off your debt.

    Debts are ‘spirals’ and the only stopper to that spiral is to ‘lock up the wallet, bill payment system, ATM card, credit/debit card, check book and cash’.

    This note says it all…..Look at ‘penny pinching’ as your way out of everything, and I can tell you that it is how Japanese save 35% of their paychecks, Indian/Chinese save 40% of their paychecks and I save even more (but I am older and wiser).

    Good luck……


  4. thedebtguy Says:

    My tie-rod was broken so I had it towed via Triple A, for free, to the nearest mechanic. Price shopping was not an option here.

  5. JW Says:

    I know this is a little late but here’s what I do to keep on top of my cash flow: Take out $20/$40/$whatever, and use only that for the week/month until it’s gone. Keep that monty in your wallet until you run out (I usually budget for about $60 in cash each month). If you run out, you’ll know that you spent at least $X amount. At which point you can a) take out more, or b) stop spending until your next cash cycle (I usually try to keep at least $20 bucks on me just to be safe).

    A lot of sites will tell you to get rid of the credit card but, if you’re responsible with it, it’s a great tool to keep track of your expenses month-to-month. At the end of the month, I just log into my online-bank account and search for all transactions on that card for the previous month (I usually only use one card for everything).

    Between my credit card transaction report and set cash-withdrawal amount, I know exactly how much I spend each month.

    Good luck.

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