Who else thinks that ‘finances’ is a dirty word? I loved the idea of budgeting and managing money, I read books, watched YouTube, and went to a few seminars. But none of the things I learned ever stuck.
I’m a spender. And spenders love spending. My first job out of college, I spent money as soon as I made it. And that was a bad habit that formed.
Now I’m older and have more and bigger bills to pay. It’s really time to sit down and tackle this obstacle head on. So here’s my plan:
Cut out Extra Expenses:
I didn’t do anything drastic with this one. I just unsubscribed to things I really did not need:
Ispy: monthly makeup bag, I’m comfortable and confident in my current products. I gave half of them away by the time I ended this one.
Book of the Month: I’m way too behind on reading these. I have stacks and piles every where. I didn’t need to keep adding to the pile.
The only subscription I did keep was Audible since I listen to audiobooks at work. And I did keep a wine club membership, if we don’t drink them, we take them to parties and get togethers we have with friends who will drink them.
$200 in My Wallet:
I find that I spend less money when I pay with cash. A card is easy to just take out and swipe, but a limited amount of cash makes me rethink my purchases. Every pay period, I will withdraw $200. That $200 will cover all my expenses outside my regular bills.
This includes groceries, fun stuff, lunch out, gas, etc. The idea here is to not bring out the bank card at all. At the time I’m writing this, It’s day 10 of the new year and I’ve only pulled out my bank card ONCE, and that was for gas on my way back from DC. Oh, and paying with exact change makes me feel like I’m adulting for real.
At the end of the week with the next pay period, I only take out what I need to have $200. So if I only spent $150 dollars this week, I take out $150 to had $200. This should reduce my outside spending, but allow my wiggle room to still be able to purchase a book or a candle or a new shampoo.
I will touch on this one in depth later, but planning my meals and prepping them allows me to save money. I’m not going out to lunch and spending money and I’m buying what I need to make meals, and nothing extra.
My husband loves nothing more than throwing away things, receipts being one of them. I’m keeping my receipts to see where my money is going, log purchases into my checkbook, take advantage of surveys, and using Ibotta.
Ibotta is a rebate app that allows you to get cash back from purchases. I buy groceries at Aldi which is not compatible with Aldi, but what I don’t get there, I buy at Walmart or Food Lion. When I scan the receipt into Ibotta, I get cash back. I’ve been using it for 4 weeks and have already received $50+ in cash back. Real money!! You can use my code to be part of my team to work toward monthly goals.
Balance the Check Book.
Most people do not use checks anymore. I didn’t use them much until this past year. I have three regularly occurring expenses that require checks, but that was all I used them for. I bought a bigger wallet in September that fits everything, including a checkbook. This was life changing. I could easily write a check for a school fundraiser, Chinese food, or anything that I bought that did not use a card. But at the time, I just wrote the check number and the amount in the checkbook and that was it.
In December I started playing around with some tips and tricks to help me in the new year. Balancing my checkbook was one of them. It’s really tricky to do accurately. I have automated payments, Amazon purchases, and ‘reimbursable amounts’ (hotel security deposit). I pretty much have to check it everyday to make sure I’m accurate.
But here’s the deal, I’m actively looking at my account everyday and seeing where my money is going. I’m logging all my purchases and knowing exactly what is in my account. If I write a check, it’s logged in my checkbook and I know what my actual balance is (because it can take forever for people to cash checks). I’m not being taken off guard when I see my balance and I know when I really need to cut back.
My big goal this year is to bring my account to a certain balance. This balance brings me security and I can relax knowing that my monthly bills are taken care of in case of an emergency.
I know that my bills on a weekly basis can be covered with half my paycheck. The other paycheck will have a few designated places that I will put it toward:
Vacation Fund – Christmas Fund: Brent and I love to travel, so we just opened a joint vacation account. Right now, $20 a week will be automatically be transferred from both our accounts. The cards for these will be kept elsewhere and taken out only for trips. The remaining amount will be used for Christmas gifts at the end of the year or if we find a great gift on our trips.
Paying off remaining Loans: I already pay more than my required monthly payment to accelerate paying it off, anything extra will be going to paying these off ASAP.
How are your financial goals this year? Do you have tips and tricks you can share? I’m open to anything!