If you are reading this Daddy Everythingtarian, please don’t laugh at the fact that your precious, formerly frivolous-with-her-money daughter #2 is indeed doling out financial advice on her blog.
But I am.
Because I am a 25-year-old single gal with a full-time job that earns an income who is learning to balance her sometimes astronomically high grocery bills (damn you Justin’s Nut Butter!) with paying student loans, credit cards and bills. Similar to food + nutrition, I am firm believer that we can learn things from each other and incorporate what works for us into our daily lives – including spending habits.
Here is your disclaimer: I am NOT by any means a financial expert (in fact, I’m more Becky Bloomwood). Nor a banker. Or even always financially responsible.
Since I get paid once a month on the first of the month, I usually set-up my budget about a week or two before the start of the new month. At first, it took me around 1/2 an hour to set everything up, but since I am an old pro now, it only takes me about 10 minutes or so. Super duper easy.
In my handy dandy $1 notebook from Walgreens (fancy schmany electronic tools like Mint don’t work for me), I outline my income (money coming INTO my account), fixed expenses (money going OUT that stays the same from month-to-month – i.e. rent) and variable expenses (the ones that can change from month to month – i.e. shopping budget).
I take my income and start by subtracting the fixed expenses, which include:
- student loans
- car loan
- car insurance
- cell phone
Those items are the same price each and every month (give or take a couple dollars), which makes it really easy to plan for thems. After I’ve subtracted my fixed expenses, I am left with around $800 to spend on variable expenses.
For me, variable expenses usually include:
- credit card payment(s)
- spending money
These are costs I can adjust each month depending on how much money I have. After paying my credit card + putting away money in savings, I am left with around $250 to spend. Clearly, this is not enough spending money to last me the month. That is where the extra dough I make freelancing comes in quite handy.
In an average month, I give myself roughly $400 in spending money. Instead of relying on my handy dandy debit card, I take out $100 in cash at the beginning of every week and FORCE MYSELF TO SPEND ONLY THAT MONEY. I put that in all capitals because it isn’t easy. I literally do have to force myself.
Sometimes I make it, and sometimes I don’t.
This money is often used towards:
- Target runs
- eating out
- happy hours
You catch my drift.
That, my friends, is roughly the way I budget.
It’s not rocket science, but it definitely is something that can help tremendously if you are tight on cash – which from comments left by readers, seems to be a lot of us.
Some people could look at my budget and find obvious corners to cut. However, I find certain things I spend money on to be non-negotiables…chiefly, my gym membership, Netflix and groceries. I am willing to sacrifice other things in order to enjoy these in my life. I don’t shop for clothes as much; I try to limit how much I eat out; I don’t have a couch in my apartment still; and I don’t really buy many “luxury” items.
It’s all for the Justin’s Nut Butter.
So, if you are looking to get your dolla dolla bills in order, here are some helpful hints that work for moi…
The Healthy Everythingtarian’s Top 5 Budget Tips
- Prioritize. What is important to YOU? It could be food, new clothes, traveling, saving up, having a nice place to live, eating out, etc. Whatever it may be, decide what that is, and be prepared to sacrifice other things to spend money on what you deem important.
- Recognize wants vs. needs. This is admittedly my other pet peeve. Why must a girl be forced to decide between what she wants (like this this Anthropologie dress) and what she actually needs in her life (ugh, toilet paper)? However, asking myself the age old question, “Is this a want or a need?” helps me keep in check.
- Debt. Pay it off first. Don’t argue. Just do it.
- Set aside some fun money. As I like to say, life is meant to be lived. If you blow $40 at the bar on a Saturday night kickin’ back brews or – gasp! – $10 on a jar of nut butter. C’est la vie. Just know you will have to cut back somewhere else to balance things out.
- Carry cash. While some rando could jump you on the street leaving you penniless, I find the odds of that happening are slim. For me, what is much more likely to happen is pulling out the plastic at four different grocery stores and before I know it, having burned a $100 hole in my pocket. Cash is tangible – you see it; you know how much you have; and you can monitor it much better.
My final thought? Find free stuff.
Blogs are good for this.
So is coupon cutting, grocery shopping in your parent’s pantry + ladies’ nights.
Along with the soup combination pack they sent me, Campbells also provided me with Sam the Cooking Guy’s new cookbook, which is chockful of unique ways to use everyday foods. And they’re easy! One browse through this cookbook, and I instantly knew I was going to like it…
Let’s just say you’ll be seeing some interesting eats on a certain blog you may just happen to be reading right now. The best part is they sent me one to giveaway to all you lovely readers!
Since I love y’all and want a reason to bake that won’t result in me eating the whole pan, I will throw in some treats along with the book (TBD, depending on winner). I told you free stuff is awesome…especially if it helps take off of the grocery bill (and that monthly budget!).
Here is what you gotta do:
- Leave me a comment telling me your best budgeting tip OR one unique way to use an everyday food.
- Tweet this giveaway (are you following me @TheHealthyE yet?) OR leave me a 2nd comment telling me something random about yourself.
Two ways to enter. Everybody is welcome to enter. You have until Sunday to enter.
Happy budgeting :)