December is generally a higher expenditure month given the holidays and tempting sales galore. I would ideally like to keep my personal credit card bill in the $1,000-$1,500 range, with $2,000 as the upper limit. After $2,000, I feel like I’m wasting money because that just seems like an awful lot to spend on things beyond housing costs.
I decided to start tracking my monthly credit card expenses to mainly make sure there aren’t any egregious fees that I know nothing about. For the past 10 years, all I’ve been doing is eyeballing the total amount, and if it was below a certain threshold, I would pay the bill and move on.
As my desire to save more money grows, it’s good to be a hawk-eye when it comes to my second biggest monthly expenditure. Furthermore, as a personal finance blogger, why not make some content out of the figures and learn something in the process! Those who seek early retirement might want to give this exercise a go as well.
DECEMBER 2011 CREDIT CARD STATEMENT
|DECEMBER 2011 CREDIT CARD STATEMENT|
|Food||Fruits at grocery store||$14.96|
|Food||Brunch for two||$29|
|Food||Lunch for two||$31|
|Food||Lunch for two||$22.33|
|Hobby||Two Tennis Racquets & shoes||$549.39|
|Hobby||Private internet domain renewal||$12.17|
|Hobby / Business||Tennis and food with client (reimbursable)||$85|
|Hobby / Business||Tennis and food with client (reimbursable)||$65|
|Hobby / Business||Tennis and food with client (reimbursable)||$55|
|Insurance||Insurance for car, home, personal prop etc||$223|
|Merchandise||BR casual shoes 40% off (will return)||$75.90|
|Merchandise||Tod’s work shoes 30% off, record amount||$315|
|Merchandise||Working clothes on sale for myself||$288|
|Misc||Walgreens shampoo, toothpaste, floss||$11|
|Total Net Of Reimbursements and Returns||$2,052|
Hobbies: Tennis is expensive. The cost of $549.39 is around 25% of my total bill. The two tennis racquet purchases are considered one-off since I play with the same tennis racquets for 3-5 years on average. I need two because I play competitively and strings break during matches all the time. In fact, I just broke two strings the other day while, which will cost about $80 to re-string since I can’t be bothered to string them myself.
Transportation: Given I take the bus to and from work every weekday, my gas bill is relatively small at $67.88, despite Moose’s V8 engine. If I didn’t go up to Tahoe for a mini-snowboard vacation, I probably would have only spent about $10 bucks on gas. The snow has finally arrived, so I plan to go up this week and twice a month on average for the next three months.
Shopping: I went a little nuts (for my standard), shopping for myself given places such as Barney’s and Banana Republic had 30-45% off sales. I really didn’t spend money on anything I really wanted, just work shoes and clothes since they wear out e.g. socks, pants, shirts.
Food: From the 11 entries, it does seem like I eat out a lot. However, given you can eat out around 90 times a month, eating out 12% of the time isn’t that bad is it? $130 a month for groceries for two is pretty good. You are only seeing a portion of my food bill since I’m constantly taking clients out for dinner and lunch as well on my corporate card. Combining business with pleasure is actually a great way to save costs. You’ve got to eat anyway, might as well build relationships with clients over a great meal. If you love to golf, you might as well take a client out golfing as well.
PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
I’d love to spend less money, but I’m not sure exactly where to cut. It does look like I eat out a lot, but in the scheme of 30 days and 90 expendable meals, I don’t think my food expenditure is that much. Professional cooks are infinitely better and quicker at preparing food than I can.
For January and upcoming months, I won’t be buying any personal gifts or clothes for myself. Hence, the upcoming credit card bills should go down by an average of $500. That said, I do plan a trip overseas and have budgeted about $1,000 for some tailored clothes. I also bought a last minute airplane ticket for vacation, so actually, February looks like it’s getting up there as well!
In addition to my corporate card, I also have an online business credit card which pays for other expenses such as internet and mobile charges. If you haven’t thought about starting a business, there are definitely some benefits that help subsidize your normal living expenses e.g. food, travel, electronics.
I spent about $300 in cash this past December, or about $70 a week on random things such as parking, tennis balls, snacks, and taxis. I try to carry as little cash as possible, since cash cannot be replaced and I get rewards points on my credit card.
Finally, I will continue to pay off the credit card bill in full and save 100% of every other paycheck, which equals a minimum of 50% savings of my after tax income for the year. If there is a year-end bonus, I will save or invest at least 90% of the bonus as well.
Check Your Credit Score: Take a moment to check your free TransUnion credit score through GoFreeCredit.com, a company I trust. 30% of credit reports have errors, which could put a serious hamper on your refinancing or new loan borrowing abilities. I had a $8 late payment I didn’t even know I owed crush my score by 100 points come up during my last refinance. The average credit score for rejected mortgage borrowers has risen to 729 due to more stringent lending requirements. Do you know what your score is?
Photo: Shot spot shadow, SD.