I have started this post more times than I can remember over the past 9 monthes. About a year and a half ago I realized that I couldn’t move forward financially unless I had a plan. And not one of the airy-fairy plans — something that was tangible that I could follow!
In the same manner that I know all about diet and exercise but it took me a long time to apply them, the same could be said about finances. Not surprisingly, with my love of reality tv I had been watching “‘Til Debt Do Us Part” for years and I thought that the system developed by Gail Vax-Oxlade made a huge amount of sense.
And yet I’d never tried using it.
Though the reasons are irrelevant I must admit the primary reason for never applying these principles were that I didn’t want to have to set financial limits. I mean, you only live once, right?
Until I stopped.
And really thought about what was the bigger priority — the ability to spend money on a whim or the security that came with financial freedom for years to come.
And recognized nothing would change until I took what I knew and applied it!
The first thing that I did was sit down and write down all monthly expenses. From housing costs to electricity, internet and cable costs. I wrote everything down. And, I have to admit, the costs were higher than I’d ever realized when it was put together! I knew some changes had to be made in this area but I wanted to ensure I had looked at the big picture first.
Next it was a matter of looking at bank transactions to see where money was being spent every month. From gas and chocolate bars at the local convenience store to clothing, gifts and car tuneups, they needed to be included.
Now what was I going to do with all of this information? That’s where my mentor (though she has no idea she is one!) Gail Vax-Oxlade came into it! I figured that she must have a website and I was right! Her site, Gail Vax-Oxlade: Debt-Free Forever was (and still is!) a wealth of information!
I took what I’d already been looking at and used the Gail’s 12 Steps to Getting Organized Financially to get everything together.
From there, I used the online resource to Build a Budget that Works.
At this point I was able to do 2 things. I could see where money was being spent on fixed expenses as well as variable expenses. Then it was a matter of seeing what could be pared back.
The over-the-top cable plan? That got reduced and saved over $500 each year!
How could I cut down on transportation costs in my commute to work? I started to carpool!
I wanted to cut down on groceries so I started using coupons even more (and even trading them with others, but I’ll talk about that in a few weeks)!
Next I literally went out and got some jars and started on the jar program! While there is no physical budget binder, there is an electronic one where things are tracked.
I have been astounded how much doing these things have made a difference! I know you often watch things on tv and think they’ve been exaggerated for effect. In the case of Gail Vax-Oxlade’s financial program, I can tell you that it can work!
Has it been easy? Sometimes it has and other times it’s been really hard!
Is it worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt!
Next week: How to save money without even noticing!