My daughter is back with a new post series: “Coupons, Groupons, and Savings”.
I’ve always hated budgeting and dealing with money. The stress of knowing that one car issue or an unexpected veterinarian bill could throw my entire bank account into the negative stresses me out, and it’s all the more difficult to become comfortable with a limited income when I’m young and just starting out. I am not a homeowner (which, as I’ve recently learned through research, comes with a plethora of additional expenses, so hats off to you people who take that on); I thankfully do not have children yet. I count myself doubly lucky that my car is paid off. And, while these missing expenses make my budget stretch further, there are many reasons why it can be very difficult to budget when you are twenty-something. For instance, despite being over that dreaded 25-year mark when it comes to car ownership, the fact that I am under 30, do not have a spouse’s car for a multiple car discount, and no longer receive a student discount has my auto insurance at an all-time high. I’m not married, so my taxes tend to be a bit higher because I don’t qualify for certain tax breaks. Rent in Houston is sometimes flat-out ridiculous, continues to rise, and has me paying the equivalent of a small house payment for a comfortable apartment in a slowly declining neighborhood. When I try to save a little on the side for a rainy day fund, these obstacles often leave me frowning at my budget.
The other day, however, I experienced a turn-around in my attitude about surviving at my age. I read an article that said one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that you are supposed to have your life figured out and settled in your 20s. It’s immensely difficult to do nowadays. Let’s be honest with each other—being an adult is hard. Just plain difficult. And sometimes not a lot of fun. Starting with my move to graduate school after finishing my undergrad, I have moved six times in seven years, and I still live in an apartment because I am uncertain where I want to settle just yet. I don’t have kids, but I dropped more than $300 on my cats this month because of medical issues with both felines—and you can’t say no to those kinds of expenses. I have a Ph.D., but my field is academia, which traditionally pays poorly in return for an employee’s education (ironically enough), has a slow rate of promotion, and tends to show bias towards recognizing women with a well-documented gender gap. I still love my job in many ways, but sometimes I want to write the government and ask if they really need to take that much out of my paycheck because social security will probably be gone by the time I need it and I could use that money to replace the flat tire in my work loafers. Hate it or love it, budgeting is a fact of life.
So a few months ago I decided to take control of my money and figure out how to live in a way that lets me enjoy the parts of life that I really love while managing to save and prepare for life expenses, and I’m happy to say that it seems to be working rather well. In fact, I often find myself searching Pinterest looking for new ways to budget or save, and I’m actually enjoying it! The tips in this post series are geared toward younger readers who might be experiencing the same life phase that I am in at the moment, but they are most definitely applicable to anyone wanting to cut back on expenses and try to save a little. The important thing to remember is that you have to make adjustments that work for your life. For example, I am a picky eater. I like the brands of food that I like, and that was not a part of my spending that I was willing to change; so, rather than buying cheaper brands, my roommate and I ventured into the realm of smarter cooking, ensuring we made our food stretch further which stretched our budget as well. I am sure Dave Ramsey knows what he is talking about. I am even considering reading one of his books soon, but his Latte Factor doesn’t apply to everyone. His idea is that cutting out expensive and unnecessary spending habits is one of the quickest ways to save money, and, while that’s true, I don’t agree that you should cut our all unnecessary expenditures. You should still enjoy life; you just have to learn how to do it on a budget. Yes, buying a tall mocha from Starbucks every morning on your way to work will cost you roughly $20 a week, which means you could cut out $80 in expenses a month if you made your coffee at home—but, you know what, if you don’t like drip coffee and can’t afford a $250 expresso machine for your kitchen, that might not be the best expense to cut. You go ahead and get your mocha, girl, and look for another way to save.
In the end, this series will give tips on how to save on every day living by using coupons and the like and how to change your habits to shop and live smarter. In tandem you can start to see results in your bank account by the end of the month. Even at the end of last month, I was able to pay those unexpected vet bills without dipping into savings because we’ve been watching our spending, tracking our money, and being smarter about how we use it. And I promise that, even if you hate it now, you will learn to at least accept it if not come to love it.
She hit it right on the head when she stated “budgeting is a fact of life”.
Mr. and I budget for big expenses like vacations and house updates by saving our five dollar bills. You can read about that HERE and HERE. And if you haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey and his financial/debt advice, you really should. I have been using his “Debt Snowball Method” of bill paying for approximately two years now and it works!
Be sure and check back next week for her tips on using coupons.
Y’all have a great day! Later gators!