The 89th goal on my 101 in 1,001 list is to budget my student salary in a way that I can save money, pay my bills, have some spending money to go out & not go crazy.
Easy enough right? Ha.
I don’t make enough money for this. But I’m going to give it a go because I need a budget right now more than EVER. My credit card is out of control. Part of me wants to just cut it up, and the other part of me is like “shut up, logical part of Mel, you need that card.”
Yeah sometimes I talk to myself. I also wish I could tell you which side was winning.
Anyways, since I’ve got some money issues that I don’t want anymore and since I’m a rather organized person who loves to make lists, I figured I would make myself an official budget that I have to stick with now that I’m only working part-time with school. I’ll start myself off for October with a strict but also kind of easy budget and hopefully, progressively, work my way to a tougher budget as the holidays come nearer. I need to find a way to have the money to buy Christmas gifts… Right now that is just not an option.
What I am not allowed to buy as of right now:
1) Books! I do not need more books. Want to know why?
This is my un-read bookshelf. Yes, it’s two rows deep on each shelf. I can’t stop buying books. And here’s the thing: at my work, I CAN BORROW BOOKS. Brand new, waiting to be read. I don’t need to buy all the latest titles, I can borrow if need be. I’ve also got a Kindle and hundreds of books on there too. Don’t worry, I didn’t pay for all these hundreds of books. Not on my Kindle or on my bookshelf. Lots of free stuff. But still.
No more book buying.
2) Anything on Amazon. That place is freaking ADDICTIVE. I’ve got one order being processed & after that… NO MORE.
3) CD’s, DVD’s, TV show seasons. All that stuff. I do not need it- I don’t have any time to watch it. Current exception: if something is on a ridiculously good sale. I will not buy ANYTHING full priced, but I currently have the first 2 seasons of Smallville on hold at 9.99$ each. They’re usually almost 70$.
4) Breakfast, lunch, or dinner while I’m at school & work. I have so many yummy choices while I’m at both of these places, but I can easily bring my own food from home. I mean, it’s free, it’s good & that’s all I need to remember. Exception: if I’m going out with friends I can buy food, but I need to make consciously cheaper choices and limit my outings. Like hi not every day or anything.
5) Clothes, accessories, makeup, unnecessary random products. I’m trying to cover my bases in 5 points here, but basically I shouldn’t go to the mall and walk into Forever 21.
What I can still buy, but in moderate amounts:
1) Coffee. I’m fully embracing my current need/love/obsession with coffee because it’s like the best part of my day. I will however limit myself to one purchase per day, NEVER four dollars or more. This means nothing more than a ‘small’ at Starbucks and sticking to Tim Hortons when I’m at school.
2) Concert tickets. I need concerts in my life to survive, and I’m being incredibly careful already about which ones I go to… But I’m just throwing it out into the Universe that I’m being excessively careful as to which ones I go to.
3) I can’t even think of a third thing that I need, but I’m leaving it open for *emergencies* or also because I’m not a robot and I’m going to want to spend money on something. As long as it’s not expensive and not happening regularly, I won’t feel too guilty. I’m a girl and I like to shop.
The breakdown of what my income should look like
I get paid every two weeks, so I have to make every dollar count. When I get paid, I will immediately:
– Put 1/4 into savings. Half of it will go into my University fund, the other half into my regular savings. This officially started this week.
– Use 1/2 for bills. My credit card is really high right now, much MUCH higher than it should ever be. It’s not cool. From this moment, I will be using my credit card for two things only: my cell phone bill and my monthly bus pass. That means that half my paycheck, twice a month, will go to paying my credit card, and all other bills will be directed to the credit card.
– Keep 1/4 for spending. I don’t know how unreasonable that sounds, but this is assuming I get paid about 400 dollars every two weeks. That means I’m keeping 100 dollars for myself for two weeks to buy coffee & to go out. I don’t FEEL like that’s unreasonable, and if I get paid more than that I’ll split the extra cash evenly in my savings & my bills, whichever can use it more. If I see that I’m not using my spending money well (don’t have enough/have too much) then I’ll re-evaluate, but I think that’s a good safety float for right now, considering my income.
Final touches to the budget
I can only assume that there will be instances where I’ll NEED to use my credit card or change this basic outline a little bit and I’m okay with that. I don’t know how much of a *plan* this is, but I think it’s a good, basic outline for now. The point is that I’m putting my ideas out there and I feel like I’ll hold myself more accountable just by writing it down here. Whether people have read this far or not isn’t the point, I really need to do this for MYSELF.
I don’t want to be stressed about money. I want to save towards whatever my next big purchase will be. I want to continue to travel, and I want to start being more financially smart. It’s time that I sincerely consider every single one of my purchases. It’s just baby steps for now but I’m hoping that I can have some will power with this goal and stick it through.
The book currently sitting on my desk, inspiring me to save, save, save!
I have no idea if I’m not doing this budget thing right, but like I said I can only learn by doing. But tell me, what are your tips for budgeting? What’s worked for you, what really doesn’t work? Let me know so I can hopefully use some of your ideas too!