A Straight Talk on Debt

A Straight Talk on Debt gives you the real deal on debt, straight from our employees and personal finance experts. Learn more about debt relief plans and how to be financially fit.

The Expert Tracker

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I am a bit of a control freak, and I love charts and graphs. I think on some level they make me think I am controlling the information in them. Maybe it is because control is about power and information is power.

In any case, for whatever neurotic reason I have, I am compulsive about tracking our finances.

I pay all of our bills and most of them get paid online. I used to worry that I would die suddenly and Daryl would have to take over and have no idea how to do it right. (Yes, I must control it even if I am dead.) This resulted in a password protected Excel spreadsheet listing every bill, how it is paid, website log in, password, due date, balance, and interest rate, if applicable. Then, as each bill gets paid it gets marked as "pd" under the column for the month. 

I think this probably gives me the illusion that I have our bills under control, but it does mean I actually know what I am dealing with.

I download my banking into my Quicken every morning and as I approve each item I make sure it has a category. If it does not fit in one, I make one. I have a million categories that I have created and every single transaction gets categorized right down to the cash we pull out each month for the kids' allowances.

This categorization is important because that is what lets you run graphs and charts. Did I mention how I love those? I know exactly where our money goes. I can show Daryl exactly what percentage of our income goes to school lunches or gas. I can compare this month's expenses with last month's or the same month from last year.

I use them to show the kids that they are not tragically deprived.

I have found that they help the kids to understand that we are not telling them they cannot have or do things for no reason, without giving them too much info to process. I use them when I make budgets so that expenses that I do not pay every month don't take me by surprise. Things like Costco membership dues or car registration are due annually and can sneak up on you. I find it frustrating to spend hours working on a budget only to discover a couple days later that there is some new expense that I have to pay for. All that time, energy, and effort wasted!

I am sure there are more streamlined ways to track your expenses, but the unknown makes me feel panicky-especially right now when money is so tight. Missing one thing could lead to late fees, overdraft fees, and over-the-limit fees. That can snowball and take you from treading water to drowning in a hot minute. 

I am trying to claw my way out of debt, not line the pockets of my creditors!

How do you keep track of your expenses and is anybody else as intense about it as I am?

Kimberly Davis, Debt Management Plan Customer with Leading Provider of Debt Relief, CareOne Services, Inc.Kimberly Davis

I have been married for 15 years and we have two kids. We have had a rough few years; my Mom battled cancer, won, had a serious injury so she now lives with us. My husband was laid off for over a year. I don't know how I would have made it through the last few years without the ability to laugh, usually at myself, out lout, to the utter confusion of those around me! We are very eager to get our finances under control with the CareOne Debt Management Plan because our kids have BIG college plans. We have plans too and they include traveling with our trailer and being able to retire at some point, so this debt just has to go! You many know me in the Community Forums as Kimmer5000 and I am now a compensated blogger for CareOne!  Check out my blogs under A Straight Talk and My Journey Out of Debt!

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  • My wife and I usually check our finances in the AM over breakfast.......it's been a long, long process for us to get to the point where we talk about our finances on an "almost every day" basis - and it feels great.  Now we need to keep that momentum going, and keep improving!  We can definitely do better in regards to planning for those "irregular expenses".....like for instance the letter we got in the mail yesterday for the tabs on our car coming due in February.  :)

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