Many people are in the adult struggle. You know, the momentary feeling of balling when Chase pushes your direct deposit through in the wee hours of the morning. You wake up invincible, but by mid-morning, after you have sent payments out, you realize that you can’t curse your boss out and quit. 90% of your income is gone, and you haven’t even had your measly lunch.
If you have never experienced the struggle, consider yourself blessed. I felt like Oprah multiple times, “You get a fade,” “You get a fade,” “You get a fade,” “Everybody gets a faaaaaade,” but by the time I finished paying bills, I was eating that slice of humble pie. I made great money, but my living expenses were just as high. No matter how I wanted to quit, I couldn’t because I didn’t have a nest egg to cover my expenses. It wasn’t until I learned the art of budgeting that I could save aggressively and buy my peace of mind. It’s not an overnight process. You’ve created bad spending habits throughout your life; it will take some time. The more you do it, the better you become at it. It’s a continual learning process. Once you get the knack of it, you will challenge yourself to do more. A great friend of mine and I literally find ways to save more aggressively. It’s like a huge thing for us. We converse, come up with numbers and see which one of us will succeed. I thought it would be cool to share three tips that I use to stay within my budget and meet my saving goals.
1) Don’t keep up with the Jones’…nor the Lyons, Wests, Carters, Smiths, or your co-workers. A common mistake I notice that people do is pocket-watch. These individuals assume that because Person A works the same job he or she does, Person A is at the same income level. When Person A makes a purchase, so does the individual. You should never compete with anyone nor watch their pockets. Just because you work with a person on the same job doesn’t mean that your income is the same. Some individuals are better negotiators, thus receiving a better base pay. Others might have tenure or scholastic achievements that warrant a different pay grade. Some people even have multiple streams of income ranging from a governmental allotment or spousal support to inheritance or a viable side business. Purchasing a brand new car every three years might be a tax write-off for them through their business, whereas for you, it’s a debt that keeps on growing because you rollover your previous loans into your new ones. Person A may only be spending 5% of her total income for that new purse, but you just wiped out 35% of your total income trying to keep up. This type of thinking leaves you over budget and miserable. Don’t take part in it.
2) Separate your money. I have several bank accounts that I use for specific things. I have a few savings accounts that range from general savings to event-specific things such as birthdays, Christmas, or travel. I have 2 checking accounts. One is for my bills only. Any part of the direct deposit that hits this account goes directly to my fixed expenses. My second account is what I proclaim as the “throw away money.” This is the money that I budget for my personal grooming and the things that I want to purchase on a day-to-day basis. Once money has been used, that is it. I do not opt-in the overdraft feature for this account because there is no need to spend money that I don’t have and accrue a $35 fee for each transaction. That is wasting money. I also leave my main checking account debit card at home, so I’m not tempted to spend additional money. Sometimes I withdraw my “throw-away” budget in cash, leaving all debit cards at home. A quick way to check your spending is to have cash. I use to swipe without consciously thinking. However, when cash leaves my hand, I pay more attention to it, especially if it is all I have for the pay period.
3) Download a digital check ledger. Long gone are the days of writing daily transactions in your checkbook and then balancing it. I absolutely love the CHECKBOOK app. I set up my accounts with the initial balances and type in each purchase I make. This app allows me to categorize my purchases by type, create reoccurring purchases and transfer money on the ledger. I input everything, including my cash. I call the account my wallet. When I’m using cash and change is included, I round up to the nearest whole dollar. Say, for instance, something is $3.24. When I input it into my ledger, I write $4.00. This makes it easier for me to keep an account of the remaining physical dollar bills. (Save the loose change you accrue. Please don’t touch it until the end of the year.) Another great feature of the ledger is that it creates a chart showing where I’m spending my money and exactly how much money I am spending. When I see the final numbers, I usually cut my budget once again. I take the excess and save. I log onto mobile banking regularly, comparing ledgers. If I see a discrepancy with my account, I compare my ledger’s detail to the bank’s ledger. I’ve caught several mistakes the bank has made that would have cost me close to a stack.
I have to be financially aware at all times. I suggest you become financially aware as well. The more conscious you become with your finances, the better you will be at budgeting and saving. Remember, the goal is financial longevity. It’s the true BALLER way.