The lazy man's way to track spending

$1600. That is the total of our monthly bills. That number doesn't sound too bad, until I tell you that it doesn't include utilities, bills, and all those other glamorous things we all must have. Nope...that is for the mortgage, the wife's car and the Harley Davidson. $1600.

In February of 2007 this was no problem. I had a great job with great pay. I also had this degree with $20,000 in student loans behind it that I wasn't using. I was also away from home a lot. I missed my family. So I did the logical thing; found a job closer to home, and it was a much better job.

Currently I am an IT Technician for the local school district. I actually received a pay raise with this new career. I earn almost $4,000 a year more now. Strangely enough, I get less on my checks, about $200 a check less. There is a lot of mandatory deductions in education. Like the mandatory retirement account (which is a great thing, and my employer matches about 9% of my salary) and the insurance. That's a kicker. Almost $300 a month. I think I need to get sick more often...get some of that money back. So as you can see, I got a raise, but in reality I got a pay cut.

We were sending my youngest son to day care. He calls it school. He loves it. We can't afford it. There is a program that will help pay for some or all of that expense. We were over by $100 a month. Ridiculous. I almost want to go to my boss and ask for a pay cut. We need the help right now, and I'm not above asking for help.

As I discussed in my first post, I have a problem. Not being broke, well, that is a problem but not the main one. My problem is spending. I love to spend money. I love to buy gadgets. I am addicted to gadgets. Want a small taste? In the past six months I have bought the following:

* iPod Touch
* Nintendo Wii
* Blackberry Pearl
* TomTom GPS

That's a small taste of my purchases. I love ALL those things, but do I really need them? An argument could probably be made for the iPod and the GPS, but other than that, I don't need any of those. I spend and spend like my money grows on trees.

VIPS made a comment to write down everything I spend and trends will develop. Let's face it. That's not the most exciting thing to do. Saving receipts, keeping a log...the premise of it all is great. It's the execution that kicks you in the butt. There has to be an easier way to keep track of everything you spend without having to write it all down.

Alas, I have found a solution. Xpensr.com is a mobile expense tracking web app, and it is FANTASTIC! Xpensr lets you keep track of your spending and send them in via email, sms, IM or voice. No more evening session writing numbers and going through receipts. Xpensr keeps track of your spending, and you can even export it to any management software you are using. Good stuff.

So here is my next goal. Starting February 13, I will track my spending. Every single dollar, every single cent. On February 20th, I will post the log for all to see and all to critique. People have told me I am crazy for doing all this, but I think it's the quickest path to becoming debt free.

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