Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A lecture and a debate

I came across this article about the basic rule of spending money "spend less than you earn and invest the rest".

I have finally had two pay periods where I've managed to not overspend and charge the rest, which is a big improvement for me. It involves cutting back, finding alternative options and getting a second job that pays more money. So yesterday, when I realized I had plenty of food to get me through to Friday's payday and I still had a little left over, I spent the rest shopping.

In a casual conversation with X, I got this huge lecture about how just because I have some money left over, I don't have to blow it all because I can. I should be saving it for unexpected expenses or big items I'm working towards in the future, like my half marathon trip to Dallas.

Yes, he's right. I should have saved it and most of the time I will. He claimed I was justifying my purchases like I always do, which he's right, I was. But would I rather spend $7.50 on a shirt or $10 shorts I can wear over and over or $5 on a load of laundry a few times a week and wearing out my clothes faster? Plus, when I have done a good job of cutting back so much, some rewards are necessary for motivation.

I know I can do better and I am working on it by finally living within my means. Yes, I have a ways to go until I save more than I spend or I am out of debt but for as much as I love shopping, I think yesterday's purchases were good, practical ones so I got pretty bitter about the lecture.

With each paycheck, I'm getting better about how to manage the money that comes in and my goal for next week is to have at least $20 left over and I will save it. When I only have $189 for two weeks, I think starting with $20 is a good goal. I'm also hoping waitressing will bring in more money than I need for my loans so I can save more, work on debt more and have a little more money for when I do want to shop a tiny bit.

Sometimes I wish being on a strict budget was like being on a strict diet. If you cheat every once in a while, there are no serious consequences. You won't go into debt if you eat more calories than you're supposed to. With money, you literally don't have any more to spend so there is no room to cheat. I guess that's a good thing but sometimes it's just plain hard.

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