So today I have my first successful attempt at working on Resolution #4 - balance my checkbook. I used to do this regularly, back when I opened my first bank account and my mom helped me monitor my finances very closely. With her help, I established a fantastic credit history. I got offers nearly every week to open new cards, usually with 0% intro interest rates. And then I started taking them up on their offers. That was the start of my troubles. I was offered a $5,000 limit on my first card without my mom. To an 19 year-old who had just discovered a passion for shopping (my entire wardrobe used to fit in one suitcase, now I can barely get it in 8 drawers + my closet), it was total freedom. That summer I was also working about 55 hours each week, so I was never worried about paying the card off - there was always enough. But one month I spent $800 - and this was before I had any real bills - so it all went toward eating out, movies, and clothes. That was the first month I didn't pay the card in full. I don't think I ever have since.
By balancing my checkbook each week, I hope to come to terms with my bank account - no matter how depressing it might be right now. At least knowing is much better than not knowing, which leads to overdrawing my account or missing card payments. Tonight I spent about 20 minutes after dinner cross-checking my online statement with my ledger. It was actually pretty painless, and I feel so accomplished! I'm also going to try to pay for more things with cash. Why? Because then I won't pay interest, then I'll see how much it REALLY costs, and it will make balancing the checkbook even EASIER!