Getting A Handle On The Finances

The one thing I find myself thinking about the most these days is money.  It’s the one thing I try not to worry about, but it happens to be the one thing I end up worrying about the most.  The bottom line is we have to pinch every single penny out of any little hole possible as more months of unemployment roll by.  We’ve both been searching high and low for a job, but we’ve had no luck.  Sure there are news stories on tv every night about new businesses opening and bringing 200 new jobs to the area, but there are twice as many people standing in line to apply.  Let’s face it.  The economy is still sucking, and there are so many places like our own area where people just can’t find jobs.  We’ve got to do what we can do to survive on the income I do make no matter how little it may be.

After months of trying to keep up with all of our spending habits in Quicken I decided to give another try. Note that is also owned by Intuit now, but it seemed like an easier option than using the older version of Quicken I have.  Thankfully we haven't had to go get a payday loan yet to keep the bills paid, but there have been plenty of times when I've worried about where our money would come from in the next couple weeks. I need to get a better handle on everything, and I thought might help me do that.

I tried it a few months ago and gave up after having so many issues with adding my Paypal account.  Ben’s shows up just fine, but he has a personal account.  There was a glitch then preventing some Paypal Business accounts from showing up in Mint.  Mine as one of them, and I hoped after waiting so long it would be fixed.  Nope, the glitch is still there, and I still can’t add my Paypal transactions.  Considering that’s where most of my transactions occur I can’t get an accurate look at our finances without manually adding those.  As much as I didn’t want to do the work I needed to, though.  I spent two hours last night manually adding those transactions from the last 3 months to get an accurate look at what’s been going on, and when I was done I was a bit shocked to say the least. 

I already see quite a few places where our spending has gotten out of hand, and if we cut out those purchases we’ll be able to hang on for a bit longer while the job search continues.  After adding Ben’s debit card and categorizing purchases I realized he’s been stopping at the store almost everyday for snacks and drinks.  He’s spending well over $300 a month just on those quick little snack trips!  We purchased reusable drink mugs and added a “healthy snacks” budget to our grocery budget just so we could cut out those little stops months ago.  It looks like I’m going to have to get on top of that again to prevent those purchases.  That’s money that could go towards paying down the car payment so we can get that debt paid off (and one less bill to pay) sooner!

At least it won’t be as hard to manually add transactions now because I can add them one at a time as they occur.  It’s a tedious task, but it’s a lot less work than I was doing with Quicken, and it’s giving me a much more accurate look at our finances.  The only other thing I have to manually add is our cash transactions.  Since this month is practically over we’re going to start making sure we get and keep receipts for every cash purchase starting on June 1st.  I will then manually add those and hopefully finally get a complete look at exactly where every single cent we’re spending is going.  Just thinking about finally getting all this in order has made my stress level fall drastically!

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