I am The April Blake, and I am excited to be part of 12changes12months because I am looking to make 2012 the best year yet! 2011 was okay for me, nothing too exciting, nothing too terrible- just a very middle of the road, ho-hum 12 months that happened to me. I am looking forward to implementing and building upon each of these changes as they come up and keeping up with everyone’s progress!
The first change that I had planned to make/am already implementing for 12changes12months is to not pre-spend my income, and to generate a little more to knock both of my credit cards back to zero (again), which combined are hovering at about $400 at the moment, which is not a horrifying number in the least. To generate a little more income, I have been selling some items that I no longer need on eBay, including my old Super Nintendo Entertainment system plus games that I found at my dad’s house before Christmas. So far the things I’ve sold are adding up to around $150ish, a pretty decent score in my eyes. I’ve been feverishly transferring the money straight to the credit card payment before my mind even has a moment to think about what I could spend it on.
Plus, paying off the balance on my bank credit card nets me more points which can be converted to a check, which equals yet more money. This money will yet again not be mentally pre-spent on new spring clothes, stuff I don’t have room for yet, or too many wacky ingredients that I don’t need to buy before I eat other food that’s been hanging out in the pantry waiting for it’s turn. No, the income that’s leftover after bill paying that used to be dedicated to paying down credit cards will shoot directly into my savings account. The satisfying feeling of seeing that number rocket up every two weeks is worth taking extra time to really self examine my spending triggers.
We all have spending triggers, and taking the time and putting yourself through the self-shaming act of really looking closely at what makes you spend is worth the payoff- literally. For example, I know for a fact that my shopping triggers are fashion magazines and having clothing coupons mailed to me. So I stopped subscribing to fashion magazines (ahem, Lucky, Vouge, and Allure) and subscribe to more article and inspiration based publications like Marie Claire, Glamour and Veg News.
The other trigger is those coupons that come in the mail from places I’ve bought from before. The most frequent offenders are New York & Company and Express Fashion. Believe me, those coupons have come in handy when I’ve needed to buy clothes for a particular event or to round out my closet for a season, but I can definitely justify spending with “But I’ve got a coupon that’s going to expire!” I have taken to throwing them in the recycling bin right near the mailbox unless I know I am going to need to buy clothes soon. It’s been working well for the most part.
If you aren’t sure what your triggers are and if you use online banking, most larger banks have budgeting and reporting tools to help you track what percentage of your account goes to what type of spending. Bank of America has a great tool for this, and I use it frequently. In 2009 at one point I was able to see plain as day that I was spending $350 a month of groceries for myself. JUST GROCERIES FOR ME. I was shocked and immediately revised the way I meal planned and shopped. Now I spend an average of $150 a month on food for myself, or up to $200 when I am taking requests from the husband.
If you don’t use online banking, or your bank doesn’t offer those tools, there are a plethora of ways that are Google-able to track your spending so you can target the offending areas and have your triggers reach out and slap you in the face. Making and sticking to this change is a great foundation for my other changes because they money that I don’t waste and do earmark for future changes will help me to accomplish these goals to lead a more awesome and fulfilled life!