Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm married to my money.

I have a secret. I'm not good with money. Never have been. My parents weren't either so I really had no one to learn from since my dad is often heard saying that his financial plan is "If you got it spend it." not that I'm blaming my parents for my current financial woes, I blame them for so many other of my flaws that adding that one just seems silly. I'm not in the cess pool of debt that other people my age seem to be but I am in enough that it makes me anxious when I get a bill. So this year I have decided is they year I cut my debt in half. It wasn't exactly a New Years resolution more of a conscious decision to own up to what I owe.

So I decided to make a budget. Something I've done in the past but have not really taken seriously. I have been known to justify things by thinking "Well I'm just going to end up buying it later anyways." or "If I don't buy it now it might not be here later." I also use my debit card for most things and then suddenly I take a gander at my bank balance and go "where did it all go?"
I wrote down all the things I HAD to buy each month and then gave myself a rather generous allowance for other things and then tallied it all up and found that I should have quite a nice little chunk of change left over. A chunk of change that could very well be used to pay down some of my debt on top of what I already am paying. A chunk of change that I've been previously spending on things like Starbucks, magazines, random thing I don't even remember that's how much I needed them and couldn't live without them! I could save a chip of that chunk and put it to the side for ohhh I don't know a wedding or something like that!

So I made some rules based on various financial advice that I've read and been told over the years.

The Rulz:

1) Cash only for everything.
2) Cash comes from what it was allotted in the budget for IE: No dipping into grocery money to top up the clothing allowance.
3) Take 90% of left over money and put it towards debt.
4) Anything not spent at end of the month from budget add to savings.
5) Keep all receipts and log all purchases so I can see where every penny is going.

Simple right? Honestly I think #2 will be the hardest for me. I think I'm going to have to really start thinking hard about how badly I need things now compared to how badly I want things in the future. Saving money now will make a difference in the future and that is what I need to focus on ultimately the bigger picture is what is more important. BUT I also have to remind myself that getting out of debt and saving up some extra is not punishment, I still can go out with friends because I have budgeted for it but if I blow the whole entertainment budget in one night then that's my fault and I can at least say I had one really terrific night right?
I'm going to treat my money like I'm in a relationship with it and that relationship needs to work for both of us and build us stronger over time right?

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