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Credit Card Spending Gone Overboard! How To Lower Costs

Credit Card Spending Gone Overboard! How To Lower Costs
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Shoot, I’ve spent too much on my credit card at a time when I shouldn’t because I got less of a 2011 bonus than expected.  January’s statement reminds me how easy it is for people to spend freely only to feel regret one month later.

January saw the first huge storm that dumped 2.5 foot of powder in Lake Tahoe.  As a storm chaser, I just had to go last minute because there’s nothing quite like riding on 2+ feet of powder.  You’re floating on a cloud as you barrel down the shoot without a fear of crashing because everything is so soft.  I stayed at my place and spent around $150 on gas and another $100 on food for a couple nights.



I also took full advantage of a ridiculously low airfare by Hawaiian Airlines and booked a round-trip ticket for only $360 after taxes and fees just 7 days before departure!  Originally, I was going to go from Saturday to Saturday, but due to the storm up in Lake Tahoe, I decided to go from Tuesday to Saturday (Tahoe Sunday Monday).  It was quite surreal going from powder to the beach the very next day.

Of course, once in Hawaii, I met up with friends every other night for dinner and drinks.  The Korean BBQ and Hawaiian food are incredible there!  I guess things could have been worse since I didn’t have to pay for lodging for a week.

JANUARY 2015 CREDIT CARD STATEMENT

JANUARY 2012 CREDIT CARD STATEMENT
Category Description Cost
Alcohol Wine for a house party $32.54
Banking Refundable application fee for home refi $765
Dentist Deductible for work at Dentist $168
Dinner Dinner at Duke’s in Waikiki.  Great venue, but food sucks $57
Dinner Dinner at 12 Ave Grill, Honolulu (overpriced!) $93
Dinner Vietnamese food $23
Farmer’s Market Pumelos, vegan crepes, dried cherries $33
Gas Premium unleaded $62.90
Gas Premium unleaded $76
Groceries Don’t remember $8.38
Groceries Safeway $136.00
Haircut Haircut $18
Hardware Metal fences for trees to avoid dog poop $13
Hobby Tennis club $228
Insurance Home, auto, life, personal prop $228
iTunes iPhone Game, Sentinel 3! $1.99
Lunch Cambodian $9
Lunch Indonesian food for two $30
Lunch Vietnamese food $10.04
Lunch Old world Italian seafood for three (reimbursable client lunch) $199.98
Lunch Chinese food takeout for two $19.53
Lunch Assortment of sushi and veggies $8.83
Lunch French bakery $20.40
Lunch Cambodian food $8.63
Lunch Mexican food $10.53
Lunch In N’ Out Burger $3.45
Lunch Vacation lunch in Lake Tahoe $22
Lunch Filipino food for three in Honolulu $35
Lunch Korean BBQ for three in Honolulu $39.88
Snack French bakery $2.75
Software Tax software $70
Taxi Taxi home $50
Tennis Can of balls $3.91
Tennis Client tennis (reimbursable) $85
Travel Rountrip ticket to Hawaii $361
Travel Taxi to airport $54
Unknown Unknown, but probably lunch or taxi fare $51
Total $3,038.74

OBSERVATIONS

Typing up my credit card report makes me realize how much I love to eat all sorts of food!  I love South East Asian food and could eat Indonesian and Malaysian food every day, all day.  Cambodian/Thai food is also quite tasty, and a number of new such restaurants have popped up.



I can’t believe I’m refinancing just 4 months after I refinanced already!  I couldn’t pass up a 2.625% 5/1 rate with costs fully baked in.  I just had to pay the up front $765 application fee.

Moose’s gas bill is expensive due to my trip to Lake Tahoe.  Usually I spend about $50 a month, so this January I spent triple.

Finally, my minimum monthly recurring cost for tennis is around $200 due to club dues, food, tennis balls, and strings.  Things add up if I’m not careful, so I plan to demo a lot more new racquets to increase the longevity of my strings, and also have fun with new technology.

CONCLUSION



My January 2015 credit card spending makes me a little ill.  I realize I will get credited back about $1,000, but there always seems to be SOMETHING “one-off” that keeps popping up.  I need to get my CC bill down to about $1,200-$1,500 for me to feel comfortable again because spending $3,000 feels too much.

I will pay the bill in full as I have always done.  It’s time to ratchet down my spending and live more frugally.  I will still save 100% of every other paycheck, but it looks like for this year, the maximum after tax income I can save is around 60%, and not the 70-75% that I was shooting for.

Related: The Average Credit Card Interest Rate Will Keep You Poor Forever

RECOMMENDATIONS TO BUILD WEALTH

* Manage Your Money In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.



After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

* Looking for an awesome travel rewards credit card? Check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and other great rewards cards. I use my Chase credit card for all my business and travel spending to get points for more free travel, insurance in case my bags are lost or my flight is stuck, and more insurance for defective products I buy and want to return. Everybody should have a credit card for the free 30 day credit. Just make sure to pay off your credit card every month in full! Check out some of the benefits:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s a ~$650 value right there.
  • Named a ‘Best Credit Card’ for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine.
  • You get 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Photo: Our cruise ship tendered at Korcula, Croatia 2016.

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