I love using credit cards. Before you fall off your chairs, let me explain. In the marketing world, I fall in the consumer category of Bang for the Buck. In other words, I don't let credit card companies use me, I use them. I have thus far received over $800 in gift cards and two free airline tickets in the last three years without paying an annual fee or any finance charges. I do this by paying off my credit card bill every month.

What else do I love about credit cards? By charging everything I possibly can on my plastic I can get an accurate report of my spending at the end of the year (compliments of the credit card company). I can fill in a few holes with information from my bank account, such as automatic withdrawals into savings, and very quickly capture an accurate photo of where my money is going.

Without further ado, I would like to share this spending picture with everyone:
2008 spending
Some interesting insights for me personally have been seeing my spending habits reflect the things I value the most: savings, retirement, and paying off my student loan. Areas where I could afford to spend a bit more: clothing and entertainment. And the areas where I will most likely see significant savings in for 2009 due to moving in with my boyfriend: rent, travel and groceries.

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You might want to look at your own numbers for 2008 to gain some insights on your own spending. If you use a credit card, you should be able to request a free annual spending summary. Some banks also offer this information for free for your checking and savings accounts. Is your spending in line with what you value most? Are there areas you can cut back on? Areas you are doing well in?

It will be exciting for me, and hopefully for you, to see the changes in my numbers from 2008 to 2009.