A very important part of my journey to recovering is my financial recovery. This is probably the thing I don’t want to blog about (or work on) the most. I have horrible saving and budgeting skills.
Let me rephrase that.
I have the skills and refuse to use them.
I’ve had a job since I was 16, like most people I know, and as soon as my first check rolled in I was given a small bill in my household that I was responsible for. Other than that, gas and my phone bill, my check was free for me to do as I please.
I only saved when it was something I wanted, but the importance of having a savings never really clicked for me.
I have a full-time job and two other businesses. No children. I am in a household where bills are split and I am not responsible for the mortgage.
There is no way I should be broke.
But I am. My habits have drained me and now that I have to pay back student loans…it’s a bit tight.
Disclaimer: You can read budget tips, ways to save and eliminate debt all you want, but until you really sit down and realize that not having your budget together is a huge problem, you will not change. Ask yourself this question: If an emergency or accident was to happen, would it drown me financially?
If you laughed at this thought then go ahead and skip this post. If you cringed at the thought of any unexpected expense falling on your lap….welcome to the club.
I don’t want this blog to be something that you cannot relate to and I don’t want to wait until I “have it all together” to share my experiences. So here are a few tips I am implementing (or trying to) now in order to be more financially responsible.
1. Be real with yourself
This hurt. I went to each credit card website and recorded my balance, the interest rate, and if I was behind on payments and how much. There are several options for debt (consolidation, bankruptcy, etc.) I’ve decided to just go with paying the one with the highest interest rate off as soon as I can. The others will get the minimum payments.
I also looked at my luxury bills and habits that aren’t absolutely necessary. Subscriptions to music sites or anything I could freeze or eliminate would benefit my budget. I could use that towards the credit card bills as well as saving. Reallocating funds to better places is easier than trying to find new sources of income.
But there are ways to make more money outside of your full-time job. One of the biggest things that kept me from saving was, “If I don’t have it to save, how can I save it?” We have to find a way.
I sold a few electronic items that were in good shape, but not being used. I also became an itWorks distributor in order to make extra income to push my way to financial freedom. There are a lot of home based businesses that can help you. It also may be time to polish up that resume and reach for something better.
There are a lot of options. The point is to do your research and find out what works for you. Have no clue? There are plenty of financial experts with personal development books and podcasts on how to get your money right.
2. Plan and execute
I created a budget sheet on Numbers a while ago, but hardly ever took it serious. This is the time you plan each dollar to your name. Each check you have should be budgeted, including how much you are going to put in your savings.
This can be done a few different ways. I am switching between the spreadsheet and the envelope method to see which works best for me.
I made one envelope for “extracurricular activities” called Fun Money. This includes movies, going out, anything that I don’t have to do. Sassy White is what I named my car (you named your car too, so don’t judge me!) and that envelope is for gas. Most of the time, I budget just enough for work and church. This also cuts down on my fun money, because if I don’t have the gas to get there, I won’t spend money there. My food fund envelope is for groceries or eating out.
3. Go on a freeze
This is probably the WORST part of budgeting: saying no to things you want to do, but don’t need to do. That shopping trip out of boredom. Eating out all the time. Online shopping. It really hurts my soul to say no to these at times. However, it hurts more knowing my savings account is pretty much non-existent and that at even given moment, if an emergency comes up, I’d be stuck. The frustration of not being disciplined enough to save will hurt me in the long run.
Each path is a struggle, but only one has positive results.
Pick a struggle, people. Pick a struggle.
4. Treat yourself
Just as within weight loss, many people help motivate themselves by putting small prizes along their goal. Something that is important to you, but you may have had to cut out due to your budget and spending freeze. It doesn’t have to be some extravagant gift that’s going to undo all the hard work you’ve just done, but something that will make you feel good about the changes you are making. I haven’t quite set my financial goal prizes yet, but here are a few suggestions. Please comment below if you have some you think would work for you better.
Your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant
A manicure/pedicure at your favorite nail shop
Making a donation to your favorite charity
Investing in a business/stock market
A new appliance or household item you’ve wanted
Below is a blank budget spreadsheet that you can download free. I have a Macbook so mine is a Numbers spreadsheet. I’m not sure how the Excel version exported, so if you have any issues with it, please let me know. If it works for you, please let me know.
Let’s all recovery financially by being fiscally responsible this year.