Name: John M.
Profession: Litigation Paralegal/Freelance Writer
Current Financial Strategy:
I’m on aggressive campaign to pay off all my credit card debt in five months or less. I track evey expense I make so that I’m forced to think more consciously about how I spend, where I spend it, and how to cut costs. Every effort is made to live more frugally, but I do it without setting suffocating boundaries that could otherwise discourage a healthier relationship with money. After the credit card debts are cleared, earned income will be split among: student loan- 50%; savings for a house- 35%; savings for opening a business- 15%. Self-employment is the main goal, but I’m getting other financial obligations out of the way first.
Best Financial Tip:
View every dollar you earn and spend as cash. Especially view credit cards as somebody else’s cash that you have to pay back with interest. Had I followed this advice, I likely would have never gotten into credit card debt, and I would have learned to live below my below means to accumulate wealth.
Worst Financial Move Ever:
Graduating college without a financial plan. I had no idea what to do with my life after college, but over time I learned that wasn’t really the bad part. The bad part was jumping from one craptastic job to another with no savings goal in mind. I would have had an easier time tolerating jobs I hated if I felt I was working towards something. A savings plan would have been a simple goal, and it would have served me much better in life, as I’ve learned now that I’m trying to save money for a business.
Financially, I need help with:
Investment. Ever since my personal finance “re-birth”, I’ve been concerned only about expense tracking, debt reduction and emergency savings. Once my debts are cleared, I’ll be doing lots of research (and hand-wringing) about making money grow.
What personal finance tools do you currently use to track and manage your money?
I use an excel spreadsheet I customized. Check it out on Queercents.
What are the problems in your personal finance tools?
I’m pretty savvy with Excel because of my job training, so my expense tracker works fine for me. If anything, adding expense entries does get tedious, and you have to be really committed to updating the spreadsheet everyday. I carry a notepad to write down my expenses and transfer the info to my spreadsheet later, and that gets a little annoying too.
How would your ideal personal finance tool work?
In an ideal world, I would be able to capture expenses on my spreadsheet in realtime. That way, I wouldn’t have to re-write expenses I jotted down in my notebook, and I would never miss tracking an expense because of error or time-crunches.
What more do you want to know about your personal finances?
I’m not quite sure how to figure out my net worth. I’m good with knowing all about my cash flow and liabilities, but the topics of personal net worth and assets always trip me up.
How much do you think you currently spend on eating out?
Too much. I keep going over my monthly budget of $200. I live in a neighborhood surrounded by all of my favorite restaurants and bars. It’s a blessing and a curse.
How often do you want to know about your personal finances?
It’s all I think about. If anything, I’d like to think about my finances less often.
What is in my wallet?
Assorted transportation passes; driver’s license; cash; debit card; three credit cards (only 2 of which I use, depending on bonus points); random business cards and my own; frequent customer bonus cards; my Entertainment card; several membership cards, cab and bank receipts.
Mint’s Note: Along with other top-notch bloggers at Queercents, John writes about sensible personal finance on a regular basis. Recent spiffy articles includes “When Renting is Better Than Buying” and “Using Coupons on a First Date.” You can read more about John from his bio at Queercents.com. If you have a moment, you should definitely consider subscribing to their feed!