money…thats what I want…

The last couple of days I have been assessing my financial situation. Faced with bills and a probable increase of car insurance once my claim is closed, in addition to other possible new expenses, I have been forced to do what I have been avoiding for the last…6 years. Making a budget.

i miss the days when i had money

Both my parents, especially my father, have pleaded with me for years to keep track of everything I spend, and not live beyond my means. Additionally, he has helped me create a spreadsheet on excel a few different times over the course of my adulthood, in the hopes that I could stick to the amounts allotted for different expenses.

It never works.

I’m too forgetful, and I allow too many exceptions. I used to try and write everything down in a check register, but that never worked. Like I said, I’m very forgetful.

But the last few years, I’ve been utilizing my online banking a lot more, at least enough that I don’t get overdraft fees very often. But I’m still very tight almost always, and always seem to struggling. So I decided to print out and analyze exactly where all my money keeps going. Here’s what I walked away with(the bad AND the good):

* I don’t spend very much on gas, considering I drive 40 miles a day 5 days a week. Factor in errand running, social life, and driving to and from school…I never spend more than $150 a month in gas (which as much as I spent on gas when I had the Jetta, used premium, and my commute was only 6 miles round trip). So I’m not super concerned about that.

* A lot of money has been spent in the last 6 months on home improvement type things (a camp stove, shelving, organizational items, fixing or upgrading things on my computer). For the first 4 years of living on my own, so many items, furniture, appliances were hand me downs from friends and family members, or just plain cheap. As a result, I take a lot of pride in getting things that are mine and mine alone.

Where I live now

But at this point, I need to get a little more creative with how I acquire the things that I need. For example, I’m trying to get my desktop to be my main computer/workspace again, but my keyboard is broken. So I’m borrowing a keyboard from one of techie friend (keyword borrowing) until I can buy a new one. So many times I buy something I need RIGHT THEN and do not shop around. Which leads to my next lesson…

*Stop being so impatient, and as a result, impulsive. Truthfully, this affects other aspects of my life far more negatively than it does here, but I was talking about that with my therapist, this lack of patience and sense of urgency I have that transfers into almost every aspect of my life. how, as much of a worry wart as I am, and overly cautious about certain things, every so often I get it into my head that I need something right then and there (And can usually justify it to myself because…well,yeah, I’m pretty good at that).

For example, I decide, after weeks of wanting a particular CD or book, that I’m tired of waiting, and want it now. But NOW now. As in, I drive to the nearest Best Buy/bookstore and buy it, when I could have found it online for cheaper, if I could only wait a couple of weeks.

*Buy less food.

August September 2009 NOT YET ON DESKTOP 105

As it stands, I probably spend about the same amount in groceries as I did a year ago (maybe a little more, because my last job kept a fully stocked kitchen full of junk food which I happily lived off of for many months, and I do eat a bit more healthfully now). I love food, and tend to go a little crazy when at the farmers market or at Trader Joes. And I have weird issues about buying too little, of going hungry, (even when I go to a restaurant, I end up ordering not what sounds good, but what gets me the most food for my money). I don’t know why that is.

But regardless, as a result, I buy more than what I need. And that becomes a problem even more in the last few months, as the majority of what I buy is fresh produce, usually from farmers markets, and it only has a shelf life of so long before it goes bad. I’ve gotten better about this(I was able to shave $100 off my $350 food spending in the month of September, which is very much yay.)

Additionally…I probably eat too much. I have means of starving myself to save myself some pennies…but I need to make do with a little less food than usual

Now, I’m not some sort of crazy person that decides they just HAS to own an extravagant piece of jewelry, or an expensive item of clothing, or really anything that’s useless.

My 2 big splurges this year were a new stereo for my car and a used Canon Rebel (both of which I DID shop around for). And I already have pretty good spending habits:

-More often than not, I check books out from the library or borrow them from friends. When I DO buy books, I buy them from used bookstores and the super cheap library sales ($2-3 a book). The rare occasion I buy a book completely new anymore is when I need it for book club or for school, and the library and used stores didnt have it in stock.  But I should really STOP BUYING BOOKS.

June 2009 030

I have 2 shelves of ones that I bought off people or stores for SUPER cheap…but even though I paid peanuts for them, I need to read them before I buy any more.

-I plan my trips based on geography, thus running multiple errands in one trip, saving gas as much as possible. ON that end, I also refuse to pay for parking, even if that means parking several blocks away, or just taking the subway.

-I go to Starbucks maybe once a month, if that.

-I never buy bottled water. Ever.  It’s more for environmental reasons than anything, but still…if you constantly drink bottled water, you are wasting a TON of money.

-I don’t go to the movies much anymore. I think the last movie I went to see that I actually paid for was “The Hangover”.

-I volunteer for my favorite causes instead of donating money.  It makes me feel good, and a lot of the time I get to attend events that would have otherwise cost me money for FREE!  (Example: Compassionate Cuisine event in Long Beach next week).

-I always pack a lunch for work.  Always.  Maybe once every other week I’ll buy a $3 dollar sandwich from Subway so I have something to eat at school later that evening.  But I bring lunch every day.

And, as with anything, there are other factors.  Like the fact that I have spent (and continue to spend) money on art supplies for my two art classes, so far already costing a little over $200 (and I’m not even done yet).  I pay my own tuition (which is a bit cheaper since I qualify for a fee waiver, but still not free).  I look at those supplies as an investment because, if this IS what I want to do with my life, a lot of this stuff will last me for awhile (the tools at least.  The different forms of media, such as pens, pencils and charcoal run out very quickly, especially when you are still learning).

So, while I’m not beating myself up too much, I definitely need to tighten the belt some more, and I think I have a pretty clear game plan to get me started.

Just one more example of how, when I make a concious decision to improve myself in some way, (diet, school, therapy, etc), it has to come from my own analysis.  Organically.  Because at the end of the day…you just need to learn stuff on your own if its really gonna make an impact.
At least for me anyways. 😉

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~ by Alli on Saturday, October 3, 2009.

2 Responses to “money…thats what I want…”

  1. Wow, I thought I was the only one who had such trouble choosing singular favorites.

  2. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.
    LOL,

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