It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend (seriously)

Screen shot 2009-12-02 at Dec 2, 2009, 8.24.22 PMThe proof is in the pudding suckers… whatever that means. I did some hardcore number crunching over the weekend and realized something: I’m totally stoked on my financial progress over the last 12 months. Sometimes I get so focused on what lies ahead, I forget to take a little walk down memory lane and reflect on where it all started. Let’s take that “walk” now, shall we?

Since I posted about my net worth yesterday, it’s only fitting to start there. I currently have a NW of $27,389. Wanna know what my NW was one year ago? I was rockin’ a solid -$10,000 NW. That means in twelve months I have totally turned my financial situation around, to the tune of almost $40k. There are a few factors that have played crucial roles in this awesome change. 1) A big help in this increase is due to the rise in the stock market over the last year. 2) I got an $11,000 raise. I was making $39K this time last year and now I’m sitting pretty at $50k. In February I will be getting another raise to $62K so I can’t wait for that day to come. 3) Supplemental income. I’m obsessed with making money. I have found tutoring/odd-jobs to be quite lucrative. I think I’ve made about $6,000 this year in side work.

If you’ve been reading PDITF for a while, you know I am quite bi-polar when it comes to my student loan. I started the year paying double payments to Sallie Mae each month (about $330). In April, after advice from my readers, I decided to up the payments to $1,000/month. A few months later I got real crazy and decided to throw between $1,500 to $2,000 at it each month. Then, about a month ago, I decided to go back to just double payments. Although my payment strategy has been all over the place, I’ve made some pretty solid progress. In fact, I have reduced my student loan debt by $11,500 over the last year. I have another plan in my head as far as my student loans go, but I think I’ll save that for a future blog entry 🙂

I totally obliterated my 2009 savings goals. If you cruise to the “My Budget” page you will see on 12/31/08 I had these goals for the ’09 calendar year…

Checking: $1,500
Savings: $11,000
Roth IRA: $8,000
401K: $10,000
Total: $30,500

These are what my accounts currently look like…

Checking: $3,060
Savings:$19,525
Roth IRA: $11,877
401K: $10,772
Total: $45,234

As you can see I exceeded my goals by $15,000. Do you know how awesome it feels to set goals, and not only meet them, but completely destroy them! It makes me one happy ninja.

Over the last year, I have improved my financial situation faaaaar more than I would have ever anticipated. The secret to this change is quite simple, and I’d be happy to share it with you: Spend less than you make. Period. End of story. This financial principle is not open to interpretation or debate. If you live on less than you bring home each month, you will have nothing left to do with your money but pay down debt, save, invest, and give it away. There are absolutely no excuses to live outside of your means (aside from medical emergencies). I am living proof that spending less than you make REALLY WORKS! I’m so glad I don’t have to live the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. At  24 y.o. I’m totally stoked to see where I am ten years from now. Anyone else have any success stories from living within their means? I would love to hear them to motivate me even more.