Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Money Talks - My Two Cents

I've always been a saver. 

I've often saved too much, like old homework assignments, bad photos, and clothes I couldn't bear to part with. Eventually, I let go of those things, but all in due time. There is never a huge purging of personal possessions at one time. I can't bring myself to do it. Never have and probably never will.

But this isn't a story about things. This is a story about money.

I've been on a quest to budget. Since I've always been a saver, I've built up a modest savings account, but lately I've been working harder to build it up. I'm moving past mindless spending and focusing on mindful saving. With the ability to bank online, I haven't had the need to balance a checkbook in years. As long as there was enough money in my account, I was good to go. Anything that was questionable would be put on my credit card, which I paid off every month. Now, things are different.

Ever since I read The Total Money Makeover (in two days), I've been doing my best to curb my online shopping habits and stash away the cash I was previously throwing away on emotional purchases. Even though I'm naturally inclined to save, it has still been so hard to deny myself the pleasure of purchasing something I want. Especially when it sometimes feels like it will be the end of the world if I don't snatch something up from that super sale I didn't know that store was having. That's when I close out all of the windows on my laptop, shut it down, and walk away. The feeling of buyer's remorse doesn't hit because I haven't spent anything at all! 

Now I'm tracking EVERYTHING. I allocate a certain amount of money from each check to rent, car insurance, DMV fees, groceries, Target, gas for my car, entertainment (like eating out for dinner), clothing, vacations, emergencies, and SAVINGS. Even though I pay my car insurance every six months and my DMV registration once a year, I still set aside money each month for them so I don't have a huge payment I "suddenly" have to come up with. It's already there! Setting aside money for vacations is easy because I don't vacation very often and the money simply accumulates. It also means I won't put everything on my credit card and worry about paying it off later because I have the money. Easy-peasy.

Saving is really simple. It's a matter of discipline and doing things the smart way. Anyone can climb out of debt, it's whether or not they are willing to put in the time and the work to make it happen. I highly suggest reading the book because it really puts things into perspective. I was lucky enough to be able to start on Baby Step #3 (3-6 months of expenses in savings) because I already had $1000 in an Emergency Fund and I didn't have any debt. I really could move on to Baby Step #4, but my first savings account is designated for putting a down payment on a house. It's just like Dave Ramsey says, "If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." If you don't buy into the consumerism mindset that you have to have the best of the best RIGHT NOW, you have a fighting chance of being debt-free and living a life of luxury in the future. Many people who look successful by appearance are, in reality, successfully sitting on a mountain of debt because they aren't living within their means. It takes discipline people! 

Are you disciplined enough to budget your money, pull yourself out of debt, and SAVE? All I can say is if you are, stay strong. It's often easier said than done. Although, it really makes you think before you buy when you have to pull out your wallet and pay with actual currency. A swipe of a card makes it so much easier to buy buy buy. With a little bit of hard work and The Total Money Makeover roadmap, I do believe anyone can be free from the clutches of debt and ultimately end up living the good life without money woes.


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