You may have noticed that I didn’t put concrete tasks for me to work on for this project. That’s because, truly, I don’t have any clue what I’m doing financially. I could tell you I plan on packing a lunch everyday, but the amount of money I spent eating out/getting coffee during lunch this year is roughly 5% of my salary (and a lot less than that since my one comrade at work moved to New York). What I really want to do here is read as much as I can, and ask as many people as I can about personal finance. For me it’s not these daily battles, it’s the war.
From the advice of my good friend Graham, I started a 401k last year, and it’s already astounded me how much money compounded. So, for the past year I’ve been imagining myself retiring and traveling around the world first-class. Then this week someone said, “what about your Roth IRA?”. Apparently I need that to shelter my money from the taxes-of-the-future (say it in a spooky voice, it makes it more fun), and to use to put a down payment on a home in the future. So I did some research (love this article/guy), lowered the amount i was putting in my 401k and am attempting to automatically transfer money into a Charles Swab IRA.
For me, if you give me a box (or a budget) I will fill it up–no matter how big or little. The main thing I’ve been working on is delegating my money into other places (account my car loan gets taken out of, savings account, 401k, Roth) so all that I have left is a cushion amount, and enough to live comfortably.
When I say I want to live comfortably, my comfortably doesn’t necessarily mean your comfortably. I’m trying to find out what I value spending a lot of my spare income on, and then saving on the things I don’t. To figure that out, I use Mint.com to figure out my where I spend most my money. This way I can win more battles.
For me, this is mostly restaurants/groceries/bars. I live by the philosophy that you should spend more on the things closest to you. Certainty what goes inside you should be most important then? This is how it came about that I spend most of my money on groceries. A lot of the brand loyalty stuff doesn’t matter to me, though. Logan taught me how to cut out ALL the coupons I need from the Sunday paper (not just the Publix ones, but the manufacture ones too). These are the ones we brought to go shopping with:
I’m the type of person who buys 4 rolls of toilet paper at a time of Cottonelle, or whatever commercial has the bears, but we certainty didn’t shop like that on Sunday. We spent about $200 dollars, but most of it will last us for a while, so later in the month, all we need is some extra stuff–like if there’s a specific recipe I want to try, and don’t have the ingredients for. PLUS, we saved $50. I actually high-five’d Logan at about aisle 4. Well, not really. I went to high-five, and he looked at me like I was a dork. Apparently, this is nothing new to him.
What I don’t want to give up (at the mercy of everything else) is traveling (although I bought 7 round trip tickets this year, bit much), going out with friends/family/boyfriend. A good tip I recently read was, invite people over instead of going out. On Friday we went out, and I allowed a couple of my friends to buy me a drink. Usually this embarrasses me, and I almost immediately buy them 2 more drinks to make up for it. Instead, we invited those people over to our place for late night snacks. Then, instead of going out to our favorite Thai or Cuban restaurant for a date-night, yesterday Logan met me half way to my work in Fort Pierce to get the amazing lunch special at the greek place in the afternoon.
What do I need to cut back on? Basically, I should never be allowed in Target again.