Thoughts on reviewing a year’s worth of credit card statements

I added up 2012’s business expenses on Monday. It was my personal project for the week. I detest doing this chore every year, though to a degree it’s like minting money. Every legitimate deduction I find (and I am incredibly conservative in this regard; I believe in paying my taxes) saves me cash.

Since I put most of my expenses on my main credit card, I spent a big chunk of Monday morning reviewing my statements from the past year. Here’s what I discovered, both in the deductible and non-deductible category:

We took some awesome trips. There’s Disney, in the April bill. There’s San Diego in August. There’s the trip to the Maryland shore and to Mount Vernon I took with my two older boys over Labor Day. While it is painful to pay for 4-5 plane tickets at a time, I’m so glad we have those memories. I’m even proud of myself for squeezing in a trip to the Getty Museum in LA while on a business trip (nope, can’t deduct the meal I had there, but the view was amazing!)

I have quite an Amazon habit. Actually, scratch that, my husband and I have quite an Amazon habit. He has my password and since I paid for Amazon Prime on my account, we tend to just use that. When I get an email thanking me for my purchase of something that seems completely out of character for either of us, I forward it to him just to confirm, but the kid’s ski harness, the sunlight-spectrum lamp for the plants, and the textbook on biotechnology all turned out to be legitimate. We dislike driving to stores to buy things, and Amazon is perfect for getting us random household items quickly.

Recurring charges happen. I really thought I had downgraded my membership at after hiring an amazing weeknight sitter off there in August. I continued to be charged $35/month for the next four months, which I didn’t notice until reviewing my statements. I contacted, and they said they had no record of my attempts to cancel, so maybe I intended to do it and forgot, but they removed some of the charges as a gesture of goodwill, so I appreciate that.

I forgot I was paying for NY Times Digital at a rate of $15/month. Guess I should visit the website more often.

In the past, such recurring payments have dropped after I changed credit card numbers. My old card number was stolen in November, and the thief ran various charges in Austin. My credit card company canceled that card and gave me a new number, so I guess I assumed I’d hear from everyone whose automatic charges got denied. I heard from some, but others seem to have continued charging merrily away, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Success is expensive. I started paying for a virtual private server after the traffic from What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast crashed my website multiple times. My MailChimp bill has also risen to $150/month up from $30/month at the start of the year, now that I have 10,000+ newsletter subscribers. Such is the cost of a bestselling book, so in a sense, I’m happy about the bill. But no one ever tells you that a swiftly-selling book won’t just make you money, it will cost you, too.

What have you discovered from your credit card bills?

8 thoughts on “Thoughts on reviewing a year’s worth of credit card statements

  1. 2 lessons:

    (1) I am a complete sucker for sample sale sites – RueLaLa and Ideeli are two particular weaknesses. Apparently I cannot resist buying a $400 MSRP dress marked down to $50 even if I would not have necessarily purchased that dress at $50.

    (2) My eating habits has gone through some serious lifestyle inflation. A $20 meal used to be “expensive” in my mind. Now that bar seemed to have floated toward the $40 mark, even though as a student I am making no money. This realization of my profligate eating habits makes me a little horrified.

    1. @Well Heeled Blog – oh, rue la la! I am trying to train myself away from sales. If I’d pay full price, and something is on sale, I’m getting a bargain. But if not, not so much.

    1. @N&M – don’t give up the cheese! You’ve been responsible financially. You deserve the cheese 🙂

  2. I know without looking that it would tell us we eat out a lot, we also eat a lot at home due to the grocery charges, we use a lot of gas in our vehicles and I too have an amazon habit! What a great idea and am sure we will be reviewing ours too!

  3. I hated hunting through our credit card statements for eligible business expenses, so I opened a (no fee, cash back) credit card that we only use for those purchases. I still have to look over a list of purchases once a year when I’m compiling info for our accountant, but at least it’s aggregated all in one place. This saves time and frustration.

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