Friday, August 27, 2010

Track Your Spending for A Week, Then A Month, Then A Quarter

Tracking your spending is the first step to understanding where your money goes. You can't make substantial changes to your financial life until you understand what your financial life looks like right now.

What's stopping you from getting out of debt? From saving for a home, college education, retirement or a fantastic vacation?

Many people are waiting for a windfall:

"As soon as I hit the Lotto, I am going to take care of everything!"

"When I get my bonus, I am going to take care of everything!"

"When I get a higher paying job, I am going to save like I should!"

"When my great aunt kicks the bucket, she'll leave me everything and then I can get it together!"

Ok, maybe you're not waiting for a relative to die, but you're probably waiting for more money. If you had more money, then you could pay down debt or save or do both.

You have more money than you think.

You've heard and read about the "latte factor," how you're 4x-a-day Starbucks habit is robbing you of hundreds of dollars a year. Well, how about your "vending machine factor," or your "overpriced auto insurance factor," or your "club hopping factor?" What small things are you dropping money on over and over that you never notice until it's time to pay a bill?

One of the first steps to getting a true picture of your fiscal health is determining just what you spend your hard-earned money on.

To do this right, you have to do it the hard way -- keep all your receipts and write every expenditure down.

"WHY?!" You may be shrieking. "I don't have the time or patience to keep track of all those little pieces of paper. What's the benefit?" The benefit is that you may discover hundreds of dollars you are losing each month and don't even realize it.

For One Week, keep the receipts for every purchase you make. If you don't get a receipt, immediately write down what you bought, the date and how much it cost (I use an app on my smart phone called Cashbox). If you use debit or credit cards, write it down anyway. Use the statements to double-check your notes.

At the end of the week, open a spreadsheet (yes, that little green X thing on your computer -- it's called Excel). In Column A, type in the dates you made your purchases. In Column B, type where you went shopping. Column C, type in what you bought (groceries, cosmetics, bank fee is sufficient; don't catalog every item). Finally, in Column D, type in how much it cost.

When you're done, add up Column D. Take the sum of Column D and multiple it by 4.

That new number shows you what you spend each month, not including your bills or your debt. Just on stuff.

Now, subtract this number from your monthly take-home pay. If this number is negative, you're going into debt every month.

You may be thinking, "I just had an off week." Maybe you did. Now that you know you have the discipline to do this for one week, do it again for two. Then do it for a month. Do it for a quarter (that's three months).

Look for patterns. Is latte listed 80 times? Did you go to the grocery store repeatedly? Did you stick a lot of change into a vending machine?

This will give you a more accurate picture of what you do monthly. It will help you plan for your money.

In the coming posts I will explain how to take that information to begin transforming your financial situation. One step at a time to financial freedom!

Monday, August 9, 2010

And The Winner Is......

Thank you all for making the the first NeoSoul Lifestyle Experiment a success! I appreciated your insights and learned alot.....and there's one more business item to take care of!

The winner of the $25 SpaFinder gift certificate is.....KIM!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 7

Today is the last day of the experiment! I can't believe it! As I tried to incorporate each of the components at times it seemed that the days were moving so slowly! Yet each day I grew more motivated, and now I can't believe the experiment has come to a close!

Friday, August 6, 2010

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 6

Two more days to go......I'm already starting to think about which practices I want to keep working on for the rest of the month!

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 5

Is there one practice in the experiment that you haven't done yet! I encourage you to focus on that practice and plan to do it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 4 Reflection

What is your favorite practice of The NeoSoul Lifestyle Experiment? How do you FEEL about the process so far? Is the experience what you thought it would be?

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 3 Reflection

Are you starting to catch a rhythm? Are you finding it difficult to stay on track? Did you think it would be easier?

As for me........
I am realizing that I an experiencing quite a bit of stress, and that creating self-care rituals is critical to my well being. Today was a roller coaster ride. I had an important meeting at work and gave it 100%! It was a success, yet I was drained the rest of the day and found it difficult to stay focused.

I wondered why I was feeling lackluster, then I realized that I had only gotten a little sleep the night before, minimal water, and no time for meditation. Yikes!

Creating my NeoSoul Lifestyle, is serious y' glad this experience is enlightening me. I realize that the evolution will truly be a journey.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 2 Reflection

How are things going in Day 2? Did you focus on the same practices? Did you try new ones? Are you finding the experience difficult? easy? uncomfortable? What are your intentions for Day 3? Share your comments!

NeoSoul Experiment - Day 1 Reflection

Take a moment to reflect on yesterday (8/1), the FIRST day of The NeoSoul Lifestyle Experiment! Did you jump right in on the practices? Did you pick a few to focus on? Did you forget? Share your comments!

As for me......I didn't hit it on all cyclinders yesterday.

I was attending a concert last night and as usual I was rushing to get dressed! (Unfortunately you have to try on half of your closet to see what fits when you've put on more than a few pounds! But I digress.....) So, I didn't make my bed for my return later in the evening. Once I did get home, I talked to a friend on the phone until I drifted off to sleep for about six hours. But I didn't fall alseep on the sofa!

I got in less than 1/2 of my water intake. I took out the extra shoes, work folders, and bags in my car. I also cleaned my bathroom and gave it a few spa-like touches!

I felt very relaxed most of the day....yet my quiet time wasn't planned so I thought about a lot of things, yet need still need to write down specific goals.

I intentionally sent my friend a thank you text for inviting me to a concert. After the concert, I complimented both the artist and promoter on their show.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August NeoSoul Lifestyle Experiment Begins TODAY!

And so it begins.....I am so happy to facilitate the 1st Monthly NeoSoul Lifestyle Experiment!

I received a few requests to extend the RSVP, so TODAY is the last day that you can RSVP to participate and be entered in a raffle for a SpaFinder gift certificate. It is as easy as 1-2-3....
1. Email me at to RSVP
2. Subscribe to the blog
3. Comment on the blog at least twice during the experiment

The seven (7) days of the monthly experiments are designed to immerse you in DAILY practices that will allow you to experience small changes that can lead to sustainable lifestyle. I will be striving to incorporate each action DAILY, and will provide you w/updates on my progress! I invite you to share your comments as well! Invite a friend to engage with you too!

So, here we go y'all......the evolution has begun!

Sleep a minimum of 7-8 hours each night
-Refrain from falling asleep on the sofa
-Prepare your bed for sleep (favorite sheets, pillows)
-Refrain from any source of technology (tv, computer, phone) 1 hour before bed

-Drink water (1/2 of your body weight in ounces)
Declutter, Clean, & Organize
-Wallet/Work Bag/Purse

-30 minutes of quiet time (meditate, listen to relaxing music, write/refresh goals for the remainder of 2010)

-Give a compliment to a stranger
-Give an anonymous gift to a friend
-Give a handwritten thank you note to a colleague