Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fixing Finances

I hate the stereotype that women are incompetent at tracking their finances. Based on the state of the national economy, *everybody* is bad with finance. It looks like part of the latest incarnation of the American dream is to live outside one's means.

But I've been doing my own taxes for years, both business and personal. I didn't need to be rescued from numbers, and I like to know where my results come from in case I'm audited. It's tedious but people blow the difficulties out of proportion. Managing my personal finances holds about the same amount of tedium, but smaller bits spread out over the year.

First I just tracked my spending for four months, starting in January. I was almost always in the red, but always for different reasons (medical, business trip, week of parties, etc). For that reason I put off making a proper budget because I wanted to see what a "normal" month was like. Until the *headdesk* moment when I realized there is no such thing. At the beginning of May I worked something out that I think affords me some room for errors, as I slowly learn to stop making them.

I also realized that I can't keep track of a personal budget on a once-a-month budget. My bills can be tracked that way, usually all paid on the first of the month, but not my groceries or discretionary spending habits. So its once-a-week checks for food and random stuff.

Like the grocery changes, I think this will be OK. Breaking habits is difficult, but some sources indicate that its better to exchange one habit for another.

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