I have a few friends, all girlfriends actually who struggle with credit card debt and budgeting. As I’m reflecting on these close friends, I’ve noticed they have a three things in common.
- They love to shop and suffer from occasional bouts of impulse buying. (me too!)
- They do not have an emergency fund.
- They live paycheck to paycheck.
I’m really not a financial expert but I think I’m pretty aware. I took the Charles Schwab Money Fitness Quiz and scored an 86 which is rated as “Good.” I know exactly my money weaknesses and strengths.
- Forgetting to pay obscure bills (as I’m typing this I still need to pay an overdue tollway bill).
- I don’t max out my Roth IRA (hopefully this year, I can bring myself to save that 5K and max out for the first time ever.)
- I don’t really know how or what to invest my money in or the best way I should diversify.
- I have over 23K in student loans.
- I automatically save at least $100 every paycheck.
- I do not withdraw from my savings save for trips and the very occasional lending money to loved ones.
- I have an emergency fund.
- I pay off my credit cards in full every month.
I’m always trying to motivate my struggling friends to adopt the good habits I live by. I hate that they live paycheck to paycheck and if anything were to happen they will be scrounging around for aid or going into deeper debt. I’m by no means perfect and sometimes I flounder. (This month, I spent more than I made.) So I’m going to write this blog entry in dedication to a few girl friends and impart what mentalities have worked for me.
My 3 Money Mantras
1. I used to do a lot of weight loss counseling at my previous job and one thing that I noticed when people relapsed on their weight loss program is that they don’t forgive themselves and get back on the saddle. They are so ridden with guilt that they start letting it win by staying down for the count. They tell themselves, “I’ve done so badly and eaten at McDonalds this morning, might as well go all out and treat myself to a whole pint of ice cream tonight. I’ll start my program again next week.” This mentality is counterproductive and doesn’t make sense! You can always and should start again right away. The same goes for money. If you exceeded your budget this week and it’s only Wednesday, don’t go for broke the rest of the week. Start anew right away.
2. We’re all going to continuously fail. Failing is part of life. There’s no avoiding it. However, don’t set yourself up for failure. If you have never saved in your life, choose an automatic minimum to put into savings that is attainable. If you think you can realistically save 200 dollars a month, do it. If after a month you weren’t even close, adjust accordingly! Go all the way down to 20 dollars a month if need be and inch your way up. As inevitable in life as failure is, it’s important to not set yourself up for it.
3. Create a price to opportunity ratio. Let me illustrate this mentality with real thought processes I go through. This one I went through yesterday: I overspent in June. I moved (movers were 260). I bought renter’s insurance (120). I bought books and event tickets ($60). I lost count of how many meals I ate out (moving made it difficult to cook.) I indulged in a lot of treats (clothes, outings, etc). I’m finally moved in and had lunches planned to bring to work. Yesterday, my coworker was walking to Chipotle and I needed to buy a greeting card next door. I love me some Chipotle and really wanted to just scrap my lunch in exchange for a burrito bowl. Follows is how I walk away from many of my small mundane impulses is to evaluate the opportunity.
Q. Is Chipotle fairly attainable?
A. It TOTALLY is. It’s on campus, walking distance, and under ten dollars. Hell, I have two Chipotles less than a mile away from where I live.
Q. Will this be my last opportunity to eat Chipotle?
A. Far from it!
Q. Can I resist this week and be satisified with coming back later?
That’s three big mentalities I’ve found financially useful and effective but I’m always seeking to learn more, so please share your tips.
What are some of your financial philosophies or personal policies?
This post is written as part of 20SB Blog Carnival on friends and money. For more entries about friends and money, click the link.