30-day financial makeover

Gail George

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

TESS VIGELAND:We've been talking to listener Gail George every week since the beginning of the month, as she conducts a little life experiment for all of us. She's tracking her expenses for 30 days as a kind of first step towards creating a budget. Hi Gail.

Gail George: Hi Tess.

Vigeland: So one more week down and one to go. Describe for us just how detailed you're getting at this point and how you're tracking that spending.

George: I did create an online, one-page monthly budget on a spreadsheet that I just got from something on the internet. I like it. I think if i was really going to be within the penny, I'd probably like to personalize it a little bit for expenses that apply to me and things that don't.

However, it is nice to be able to zero out some of those budget items, you know, things that I don't have, like a car payment. I kind of think of that as saving money.

Vigeland: So when you're doing this, for example, when you go to the grocery store, do you just hang onto that receipt and then maybe a couple days later enter it? Take us through your daily, how you do this.

George: I don't do it daily. I did the first week, but I think what was easier for me, I just took all the receipts that I got and collected them.

Vigeland: And what if you paid for something with cash?

George: I primarily don't. I primarily use my debit card. I guess that is cash. I like tracking that and of course, it's online banking, you can look at it instantly and see where things have gone. And I even put a little note in my wallet that says, "Do I need this?"

Vigeland: Oh wow. And is that working for you?

George: Yeah. It makes me reflect when I'm buying things, "Do I really need to purchase things?" And also when I go home and look at the receipts and I kind of think, I put it in this category of "You know, you really didn't to have that item."

Vigeland: I love your idea of putting that little note. I think I might have to try that myself.

George: Oh good, let me know how it works for you.

Vigeland: I will, I will. Would you mind telling us how much money you've spent so far this month? Do you know?

George: Well, that's not an item I'm going to be able to give you.

Vigeland: In general, are you surprised or is it kind of what you expected it to be?

George: I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised by any of it. Except, well I guess food, I find constantly surprising.

Vigeland: And how about the time that takes to track all of this stuff. I know you're not doing it daily anymore, but do you find that it's manageable.

George: Yeah, it is manageable. I wouldn't want to spend anymore time on it than this. But I think you have to give it enough time, so that you're really aware of what you're doing on a day-in and day-out basis.

Vigeland: Well Gail, thanks again. And you are in the home stretch and we'll talk to you one more time next week.

George: Thank you so much Tess.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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