January Financial Review – Good News

I've already shared with you our overarching financial review for the year of 2014, but I never took the time to look individually at the month of December. Since that is something I do every month after the first payment has gone in, that's what I'm intending to do today. It's useful for my husband and I because we are able to see down to the month what we are doing right … and wrong allowing us the opportunity to make improvements (or in some cases ignore our finances altogether) for the next month.

First and foremost: we spent less in December '14 than we did in December '13. YAY! That is typically a personal goal of mine: to spend less in the year I am in than the year before. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. I have begun to notice trends though, like how we typically spend more (no matter what's going on in our lives) in October, November, and December. For some odd reason, we make more money in January than any other month and we spend the least in February. Our average expenditure is 90% of Justin's paycheck, but our revolving goal is to only spend about 75% of his paycheck (or less) and save 100% of mine.

Over the weekend, Justin and I talked about manufactured spend (and how best to obtain it), applied for (and was accepted) for a Discover credit card (for moving owed credit and bringing our interest payments down), as well as attempting to pay a student loan bill with Evolve using a $50 visa gift card I had received as a gift. All of this should help us as we work to improve our finances in 2015.

Our assets are down by a lot, BUT (hear me out) the reason they are down so much is that 1) I had to pay student loans in full this month from our emergency savings (Don't ask. Long story. Really it's just one more way we keep our finances straight and has less to do with needing to access the money than making sense to my very small brain.) and 2) we moved all of the money we had been saving for a car insurance payment to pay down a credit card which will inevitably be used to pay for car insurance. Are you confused yet? Needless to say the money that existed wasn't really savings to begin with. While it has temporarily dropped our credit card debt, the drop won't last for more than a month since we have to renew our insurance at some point. (Going to jail for driving without car insurance doesn't sound too frugal and I feel like it might actually set us back a bit in paying down debt. What do you think?)

So, as I said above, the extra money put towards credit cards this month that is really a car insurance payment has improved our debt bringing our total debt down by about 12% from it's peak in May and 4% from what we owed in November.

End result: Our net worth has improved by 16% in the last 9 months.

Our key problem areas (as usual) were clothing, food and dining. To our benefit, however, the lower gas prices helped us save. :) Here's hoping we will be able to conquer our problem areas and enjoy the lower gas prices this month so that I can have a good report come February.

How are you doing with your finances? Do you review them each month to see what you are doing wrong and how to improve? Have you noticed any trends? Will there be any significant budget changes within your finances during 2015?

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