Is Financial Freedom an achievable goal for the average person?

If the title piqued your interest and you were hoping I would have all the secrets…that may very well be in someone else’s blog! I don’t believe the answer is the true point. Instead, I think the point lies in what I get to learn about myself during the journey. In the short span of two months, I have definitely not learned all there is to know, but I am enjoying picking up the crumbs.

[See my former posts HERE and HERE]

In April, I noticed that I make a lot of small purchases. Whether it’s a quick grab from Cumberland Farms during lunch or a small, but necessary item from Amazon – all of those little transactions caused me to exceed the limit in my little Walmart Budget Planner.

May proved to be a much more organized month, transaction-wise. I added another regularly-used item to my Amazon scheduled purchases and only visited Cumbies once. However, there was another wrinkle in that…paying April’s credit card bill [in full] escaped my mind.

Unfortunately I noticed this moments before beginning this post and am trying to keep my disappointment in myself from clouding my writing. I was looking forward to comparing my savings in April with my savings in May, but without going back and examining the statements, re-calculating my wife’s transactions versus mine, and crediting payments made to both, I don’t have a clear way of telling you – hey, I did better or worse by $XXX this month! I don’t wish to make the time to do this today as I have other tasks planned. I’d rather just move on and not dwell on an entirely human oversight. My educated estimation is that I spent more this credit card cycle than last…but not by much and not entirely due to frivolities. There was the fee for income tax preparation, I had gifts to purchase, and I bought my parents’ meals during visits with them. I also spend $235.82 on new clothing for myself, which ties into how this exercise motivated me in May.

Documenting my spending last month provided a new and different motivation for me – similar to the first month inspiring me to organize my accounts and passwords. May’s exercise kicked my butt into accomplishing a lot of decluttering. I did not just declutter my closet, I cleared out household items, recyclable items/craft supplies, and gifts. However, in relation to my clothing, I went through my closet with an honest eye and made quite a few donations. This is why I purchased the new items for myself – so much of what I had was uncomfortable and wasn’t bringing me joy. I removed these and replaced them with items that fit my current lifestyle and make me feel beautiful while wearing them.

For June, I am going to have to start using my calendar book again, as it is not like me to miss a payment for any bill. I am not going to go crazy with scheduling each and every task like I had been before detoxing from it – but clearly I may need some assistance with keeping track of the days and certain things that require attention. That’s goal #1 – getting back to using my book and this feels like the most important goal for now!

Goal #2 – less fast food. I made 3 fast food stops in May. I plan on limiting to one, at most, because while fast food tastes great at the moment, I always feel like garbage after. Just like my decision with donating clothing that did not make me feel good – I want to make decisions about my health that make me feel good.

Am I on the way to this dreamland of financial freedom? I couldn’t say, but I can say that I feel that I am on the road to self-improvement and there is nothing wrong with that!

April Review: What did I learn? What can I improve in May?

I have been looking forward to writing this post because I felt very good about April. Was it perfect? No. Have I learned everything I hoped to? Also no. Did I feel like I did my best? Yes.

Before I delve into the details of my April budget tracking, I would like to admit I only tracked until April 23rd. I had two reasons for this; neither really excused it. The first reason was that the final week in April proved to be emotionally difficult for me. The second was not emotional – it was practical: I ran out of room on my monthly log sheet.

The fact that I ran out of room 3 weeks in tells me that I make a lot of purchases. There are 51 lines to fill in and 30 days in April. From this, I’ve learned that I should try and consolidate my purchases to create less record keeping. This means not reflex-clicking “BUY NOW” on Amazon for even the smallest of purchases or allowing stress to direct me to junk food for instant gratification. (Stress eating being a whole different topic.)

Tracking my spending in April also made me think twice about what I spent my money on. Knowing I was committed to adding my purchases to the book held me accountable. My last credit card cycle was a lot lighter – approximately $500 less than the month before. I was also able to put some extra money into my savings account instead of having to draw from it to pay the bill.

In May I will continue this learning experience, with a more watchful eye on how many small purchases I make and also how stress affects my decision-making. It was gratifying to be able to consciously transfer money into my savings, above and beyond what is automatically deposited by my paycheck. I’d like to keep that good feeling rolling!