So, this isn’t really a New Year’s resolution post, as I don’t really believe in them. This is about me and money. I have a problem. I love to spend money! And not just on me. I love to buy gifts for people. I love to go out to eat. I love to have people over for dinner. I love to travel. I love to go to concerts. I love to buy books, as opposed to checking them out at the library. It’s not that I love money, as much as it is that I love what I can buy/do with it.
I have been in a very difficult situation, financially, since moving away from Arizona. Recently, though, some of my stress has been relieved and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it is still at the end of a tunnel that is relatively long.
The other night, I was having a conversation with my cousin, Anne, at our grandma’s house. Somehow we got on the topic of cash and I mentioned that I rarely carry cash. And then Anne told me that all she ever uses is cash. She said that on payday, she just goes to the bank, takes out a certain amount and that’s her money until the next pay day. Interestingly, even though the conversation had nothing to do with my money spending issues, this was exactly the advice I was looking for.
I got to thinking about it, and I’ve decided that this is my going to be my new way of budgeting (as opposed to the old way in which my only concern was that my bills got paid on time). Initially, I was going to base my budget on how much I needed to leave in the bank to cover my monthly bills. Then I realized that will keep me in the “paycheck to paycheck” mode I am currently in and from which I am desperately trying to escape. After much reflection, I have decided how much cash I need each week (food and gas, basically…and I am being a little bit generous as this is going to be new and very, very difficult for me) and I will pull twice that out of the bank every two weeks, on my payday, and that will be that. My goal is to use only that money for non-bill items, meaning if I want to got out to dinner and a movie, I basically have to plan my week around that, and probably not go during a week when I need gas (thankfully, I only have to fill my tank about once every other week).
For right now, I think this is a good place to start. I’m hoping that, by the time I start grad school, I will have cut the budget down by about 1/3 and be completely out of debt. I think it can be done. And if any of you out there have any other suggestions (especially about non-necessity spending), let me know. I’d love to hear them.