Friday, October 17, 2008

Number Crunching 131

Quicken Cash Flow = 472.74
STEF Total = 320.69

Looky, looky, a positive balance in both! Okay, my net worth looks worse than shit, but let’s focus on the positives right now, ‘kay?

Now here’s where I really don’t understand about my math skills. Quicken agrees with my online statements and is all caught up. Great. Work up the month’s income and expenditures using zero-based budget method. Doesn’t match with Quicken and the online statements. Work up the month’s income and expenditures using the monthly tabulation method. Doesn’t match with Quicken, the online statements, and the zero-based budget. Fist around hair and pull.

Though the goofiest thing is both Excel spreadsheets need the same amount to be added in to adjust them. Okay, at least something is balancing in the budget, right? I can’t figure out why. I started October with $0.00.

I thought about figuring out the breakdown of what I’m paying toward principle and what I’m paying in interest for my mortgage while I was trying to get the mess straightened out, but now I’ve decided I don’t care enough. I can have fun with that when I’m trying to pay off the mortgage.

I didn’t get many of my goals accomplished for finances this week. I think I’ve been in recovery mode. Last week severely tested my stress levels and I don’t think I’m recovered yet.

Now we’ve made it to Step Four in Your Money or Your Life. You evaluate your spending by asking three questions about the total spent in each of your subcategories:
  1. Did I receive fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent?
  2. Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purposes?
  3. How might this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work for a living?

On the Monthly Tabulation spreadsheet, under the total dollars and total life energy spent, you need three lines to keep track of each of these questions. And in the interest of staying short, I’m going to concentrate on one of these questions a week. So how do you track the answers? If you received so much fulfillment from one category, mark it with a plus sign (+). If you received little or no fulfillment, use a minus sign (-). If the expense fills okay as is, mark the box with a zero (0).

Urk, I have to fix September’s monthly tabulation for the problems I figured out in October. I discovered I goofed up my putting my FSA spending in off my regular income. Okay, I’m done fixing things. Time to get back to the actual question.

Categories to make changes in:
  • Eating Out – I do too much of it. In September, I spent 32.665 life hours on dining. Minus.
  • Electricity – part of this was it was two months on one bill, but I think I need to reduce there. Minus.
  • Natural Gas – same thing as Electricity. Minus.
  • Phone – I have taken steps to reduce this bill and have more steps to take. Hopefully, the steps will work because I wasn’t happy with the amount. Minus.
  • Garbage Removal – actually not a dig on the price, but I’m not happy with the service. My garbage is getting picked up every other week and I don’t know why, and when I call this time I’m asking for a reduction or credit or something. Minus.
  • Entertainment: Books – I loved what I purchased and was so glad to read it, but this was the wrong month to buy a book. Minus.
  • Computer games – I love Big Fish Games, I just can’t afford the subscription right now. I already stopped it. Minus.
  • Gasoline – need to drive as least as possible. I can’t be positive about it because of my lack of tracking, but I think the cost of gasoline was a contributing factor to me getting so off whack. Minus.
  • Auto Service – I need to get the car serviced so I don’t end up with big repair bills for ignoring maintenance. Plus.
  • Previous Month’s Negative Balance – I shouldn’t even have this category. Minus.
  • Roth IRA – I have one do to my complete inability to forecast my financial needs and I would like to add to it. Plus.
  • Tootsie Roll bank – I don’t care how I add to savings as long as I do. Plus.
  • STEF – Yeah, we already know this needs to be fund completely. Plus.
  • FSA Medical – I’m not happy with the amount I put on it this year. I think it was too much. Minus. But there’s nothing I can do until next April, so I will probably give this category a zero from now on.
  • Deferred Compensation Plan – right now, only 2.5% of my salary is going into it, making my entire retirement contribution 10%. I want to get it up to 15% to 20% eventually. Plus.
  • NSFs – Damn, I want this category to go down in the worst way. I said I wasn’t going to have any in October. How should I know that was practically a shout out to Murphy? Minus.
  • Transfer Fee – I’m allowed so many free automatic transfers between my savings account and my checking. When I use them all, they charge a fee. If I’m watching and do the transfer myself, no fee. Guess what I have to do from now on? Minus

The authors promise that asking yourself this question consistently, helps you identify your problem areas and make positive changes in them. Well, they actually say shopping behaviors, since that’s where most over-spending problems first develop. I’ll have to see how this list compares to October’s version.

Plans for next week:
Finish what I already have on my lists to do.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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