Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Sometimes I think that I have a decent handle on this whole "being a grown up" thing, and then the hand of God comes down and bitch slaps me.

We've been going through our finances lately because we're having a professional do our taxes this year. Since I'm finally making more than $200 per year freelancing, my taxes have gotten a little more complicated. We want to make sure that we're paying out as little as possible, so we're basically paying someone to tell the IRS how much i spend on toilet paper each year. (Really, you can deduct a certain percent of your toilet paper if you work from home).

My husband started going through a year's worth of our bank statements online. Because, you know, when they come in the mail we just throw them out without looking at them. Turns out we are complete F-ing idiots. Guess how much we spent in the year of 2010? Well I guess that wouldn't be appropriate to say here, but lets just say there were six digits in the number. SIX. When Frank told me, I thought that HAS to be wrong. I was thinking of the big ticket items that we bought this year: down payment on a car, our roadtrip to CA, my MacBook, new flooring. UM NOT WORTH SIX DIGITS.  Luckily we remembered that some of it was explainable, like the fact that we paid off a lot of school loans, some of the $ accounted for funds that we switched back and forth between checking and savings. But still. OUT OF CONTROL. Sorry for all these caps but they are necessary. You know what's really sad, also? We live in a city with a very low cost of living.

We spend an average of $500 a month on groceries. For two people. And we hardly ever cook. Eating out was the biggest shocker of all. We should own 40% of the Starbucks company. It's not like I'm going out buying expensive clothes and stuff.  I wear clearance rack Target and Forever 21 most of the time. Don't even get me started on Target. It was disgusting. We decided we needed to have an intervention with ourselves and SERIOUSLY get a hold of our finances and start budgeting.

But. It gets worse. As Frank was going through the lines on the account statements, we realized that we had a lot of unexplained charges in our account. It turns out that we are being scammed by two separate companies to the tune of $30 per month! Yep, apparently when I bought my grandma a bouquet of flowers from, I checked a box for free shipping, which signed me up for some club that charges you $15 per month for a membership fee. When I Googled the vague description of the charge, millions of search result including the word "scam" came up. The sad part is, I think I bought those flowers like two years ago, so they ended up costing me hundreds of dollars. When you go to the website, of COURSE there is no phone number. But we will be calling the back tomorrow to cancel any payments from these companies. The other company that's charging us is doing the same thing.

Let me leave you with this little gem: $50/month on pizza. No wonder I gained like 20 pounds.

Anyone have any budgetting tips or know of any good websites/books that will help us get our act together?


  1. YIKES!

    I use to track my transactions on my different accounts. I also keep a spreadsheet for when bills are due, so I can see the movement of money and determine if I'm spending too much on one thing over another.

    Good luck with canceling everything. Those can be a hassle too!

  2. Here's what we do:

    We go into Excel and create a budget spreadsheet, listing off our current bank balance and then go through the month and deduct our bills as they're due and add in our paychecks as they would get deposited to keep track of our required spending.

    Then we see at the end of the month (according to the spreadsheet) what we should have left over to spend on stuff like groceries and entertainment, etc.

    Also, hubby started doing this thing where he takes $60 cash out of each paycheck from his day job (which he gets every 2 weeks) and keeps it on him and we use that as our "eating out" money for the 2-week period, as we prefer to eat out or get fast food on the weekends. We compared our eating out spending in September to when he started doing this in November and WOW! What a huge difference!

    Also, taking meals to work helps too - when I was working I would get the 10 for $10 microwave frozen dinner meals at the store and take those to work with me and just drink water with it. $1 on lunch was much better than spending $3-5 at one of the nearest fast food places.

    Sucks you got scammed though!

    We used to just toss our statements out too as we got them until we started wanting to get a house and realized we needed our statements for the bank stuff. Since then we bought a box of manila folders at Walmart and organize all our bills and bank statements by company so they're easily available if we need to reference anything.

  3. Thanks guys, we're definitely going to use these suggestions. I know I signed up for before but never did much with it, so I'll have to get back on that.

    I definitely like the idea of taking out a certain amount of cash from each pay check and using that for eating out and incidentals. I think its the debit card that gets me into trouble. It's so easy to just run into Target for something and come out with a million things.

  4. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University has greatly helped my husband and I get our finances in order and do a lot saving. The book is pretty inexpensive and if you want to do that whole "course" you can do it at home if you order the program (which is like $100). We did that and last year we paid off a ton of our debt and felt much better about our finances over all. Good luck!