2.04.2013

Money, money, money.

Apparently, it's a topic most people like discussing.
Or questioning.
Either way, I thought I'd answer some questions people asked,
and maybe give some more insight on how we handle finances around here.

First off: 
I don't set budgets like "this month we're only spending $50 on eating at restaurants" 
or "this month we can only spend $150 at the grocery store".

Wanna know why?
You'll be miserable.
Trust me. We've been there.  
...Where I've budgeted every single penny,
and only allotted ourselves minimal funds for what we consider necessities.
You'll inevitably run out of money.
Something ALWAYS comes up, unexpectedly.
You'll be so bored - you'll sleep the month away, or you'll starve.

It took a couple of years to figure this out.
And I'm sure it'll have to be modified as our lifestyle changes (owning a home, having a baby, etc.)
But here's what I've come up with:

It doesn't matter how you spend your money as long as you have enough to do what is important to you.
You earn it, so you should be able to spend it on what you want/need.
.
To each their own.

It's totally up to you.
I can't answer that for you.
I say: figure out what's important, 
and work backwards to achieve it.
Just know, unless you're rollin' in dough, you can't have it all.

For instance, if your goal is to have a house and need to save money, or to go clothes shopping every day or to buy lampshades and frames to match your seasonal home decor, you'll have to use your money differently.


That being said, I hope you realize I said money.
Not credit.
I don't believe in putting anything on credit cards. Like ever.
If you don't have the money, you can't afford it.
Period.

So, for us?
It's important to pay our rent -- we need a roof over our heads.
It's important to buy food -- we can't starve.
It's important to pay our bills -- we need heat, cable/internet, a car, insurance.
It's important to pay our debt -- so it doesn't get worse.
It's important to pay for gas -- so we can get to work.
But it's also important that we have money for date nights.
We always make sure we have money for that.
We tried cutting this out. But it's not worth it.

In order to do what we want, and not just have enough for what we need, we make sacrifices elsewhere.

For example: 
The heat is at 62 degrees,
we bring leftovers for lunches at work,
we eat dinner at home Sunday-Thursday,
we shop at dollar stores for things that are annoying to buy anyways (like zip-loc bags and tin foil),
we buy in bulk when we can (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.)
we buy generic store brands for everything,
we clip coupons, shop during sale hours,
and rarely buy things that are "extras".

So, here are answers to some questions that were asked:

- Target once a month??! How do you survive?

Well, it's hard! It's hard because I have to pass it most days and I just love the Nate Berkus line:

via.

But when I actually think about it, I don't need anything in Target. 
I love it, and I'm jealous of people who go there all the time,
but it's not a necessity.
It's impossible to leave there without spending $50+ and it's all "extras" that we don't need.
Except for a pasta strainer since ours broke last week.
But honestly... we need nothing. So I just keep telling myself that..
Over and over and over again. 

- Do you have a savings account together?

We do. Here's what works for us:

We get paid (thank goodness), each take out money for our own personal savings account + $150 of spending money, monthly.
Everything else goes directly into our joint checking account.
From this account we pay all our bills, pay for anything BOTH of us will benefit from - like food, gas, date nights, the new pasta strainer we need to buy -
and whatever is left on the last day of the month goes into our joint savings account.
Sometimes it's pennies, sometimes it's hundreds.
It really just depends on what went on that month.

We always have a short-term mutual goal for this money like a piece of furniture or a vacation.
I'm sure it's not what a financial adviser would suggest,
they'd probably say to save for a house or something, but we're not quite in that mind-set yet.

- Do you have any tips for a college student like me? How can I keep track of all my college & everyday expenses?

Personally, I like the mint app.
Once you set budgets and goals for yourself the app sends you reminders and "yells at you" through email if you go over your budget.
I think it's all about realizing what you want to spend money on, 
what you need to spend money on, 
and what you can do to cut corners to make that happen.

When I was in college I lived off ramen noodles and wheat thins,
but I had designer handbags and only shopped for clothes at Nordstrom.
Looking back, I would have chosen to spend money differently,
but I have a $1300 jacket hanging in my closet that reminds me of my previous financial woes and misguidance.
It's all about priorities now.
The last piece of clothing I bought was $6.

How the mighty have fallen.

:)

2 comments:

  1. A and I have a similar set up with joint checking and personal checking and savings. It works okay. I guess the hard part for us is we both have hefty personal debt (student loans, car) that can't be paid out of a joint account and so we are kind of constantly shuffling money between joint and personal accounts. I guess we're also not at the married point - so we each keep our own savings for now, and no joint savings. ANYWAY. I thought these posts were very interesting!

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  2. Totally agree with the point that some things are ridiculous to try and save money on, like for you date nights! If we are cutting everything out then we are just sitting at home all the time and being unhappy! The cooking at home part seems to save us a bunch!

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