Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Get the Debt Out!

This is the last week for the Spring Cleaning carnival - holy cow, have I learned a lot! The final topic is debt, and you can find Claire from Money Saving Plan sharing her story at Kitchen Stewardship, then read how to get out of debt over at Money Saving Plan.

Since we are basically small business owners of our farm, we simply must carry some debt. However, we have been working on minimizing the amount of debt we must incur, and we keep careful track of the money we spend.

When I was still single, I tracked my spending on paper, using a pre-printed accounting book. For my needs, it worked fine...and it helped that I'm a math nerd and loved adding up all the numbers every month. Then I married Hubs, and it made more sense to use a spreadsheet. That also worked fine, though I got to a point where I wanted to be able to pull out data and I wasn't able to do that.

Now, I use Microsoft Money. It probably isn't the best program, but it surely does what I need it to do. For a very short time, I tried using Quickbooks, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. (And apparently I'm not too ashamed to admit that!)

For me, one of the hardest parts is sitting down to input the data. If there is only a little bit, then I tend to put it off until I have more. Then I get too much, and I put it off because "I don't have time" - which is entirely not true. In theory, I try to do my data entry at least one time a month, when I get the credit card statement. That way I can match receipts to charges and make sure everything is OK. That doesn't always happen, though.

A few years ago, I created a home management binder and thought that scheduling an office day would be a good way to stay on top of things. Apparently sticking to schedules isn't my strong point, sigh.

Although all this sounds like I'm not doing all that good of a job, I actually have a decent handle on where our money goes. I have also started trying to pay cash for as much as I can - not because it helps me stay on a budget (which we don't really have, I'll admit it) and not because we use the envelope system (though I admit it intrigues me) but because it helps keep the credit card bill down. The checks that I cash come from my part-time work and various other minor sources, so it feels kind of like "free money" if you will.

I also admit that Hubs and I have both been blessed and we spent many years living below our means, so that helps. If you want to read more stories on debt and how to get it out, check out the linky at Saving Money Plan. You can enter there for the giveaway to win a $25 gift card to Best Buy OR one of two copies of Kitchen Stewardship’s Family Camping Handbook. (As much as I enjoyed the snack eBook, I can't WAIT to read this one!)

Finally, if you'd like to go back and read any of the previous topics in the Spring Cleaning carnival, you can find them here. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

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