A bunch of the goals in my 101 in 365 are about money. It’s not because I’m necessarily bad with money – in fact I’d say I’m pretty good with it. They’re there because I think I could be much better about it.
In the next few months I’m going to go from tuition-paying student to college grad traveling Europe on a budget to full time employee who now gets to pay off student loans in addition to rent, car insurance, food, taxes, cable, electric, internet, health insurance, 401K and all of that fun stuff. Sure, I’ll have income rather than outgo for the first time ever, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be sitting pretty just yet.
With this whole new set of bills and lifestyle on the horizon, I’ve recently realized that I need to get my financial act together. I’ve been reading “be better about your money” type blogs for good while now, but since most of them are geared toward people in the real world, I haven’t really been practicing what I read. That is until I read The Money Diaries on I will teach you to be rich. These people are pretty much my age and they have -terrible- spending habits. I don’t want to be like that. I know I have a few leaks in my budget and seeing how just $5 here and $6 there can really add up or how an extra $5 can make my Europe budget all the better, I’ve decided to try to do my own little money diaries. This week I’ve just tried to cut back – not eating out as much and staying off of ebay – but if I find that I can’t stick to it for more than 2 weeks I’m going to do a legitimate diary, tracking each and every purchase and finding where my problems are. I already have mint set up, but I think seeing your transactions in a giant list versus in the context of a given day or week has a very different effect on how you interpret them.
The best part about it so far is that I’ve been cooking dinner more so that I don’t let food go bad as often. It’s teaching me to be a better cook because I’m using what’s around rather than going to out buy meal-specific things from a recipe all the time. Last night’s chicken was quite tasty and it’ll be for leftovers tonight too!
I’ve also begun to love half.com for my reading habits. I used to go to barnes and noble or Amazon.com all the time and just order a bunch of books because I had the reading bug. Then I realized that based on the quality of books that I’ve been selling on half.com, it’s probably true that other people are selling books that are in great shape too and it would be stupid of me to pay $20 for a brand new book that I could probably get on half.com for $15 or even cheaper AND…yes AND… it’s giving money to someone like me – someone who’s trying to offload the excesses to make a few bucks rather than paying into the Amazon piggybank. I love Amazon, but I’m going to love sleeping in a bed instead of a train station every night this summer a whole lot more.
That’s not to say that I’m never going to splurge on anything fun ever again. That wouldn’t be a very good way to live, but especially for these next 2 months, the more I can save now means the more I can enjoy when it really counts. It’s all about mind over matter. At least that’s what I keep telling myself…