In this post, I shall disclose my inner-most struggles with financial discipline. If you’re a Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard clone, don’t judge.
It’s really a challenge for me to stay on top of managing my finances, and I’m only one person. Technically, I can “afford” to be less than militant in my book-keeping because it is just me, and I don’t have any major responsibilities or investments yet. Yet, I know (I know, I know!) that this is the time to be diligent and to set good habits for later when they will be crucial. Plus, I’m not foolish enough to think social security is going to do me any good in fifty years.
I have plans. I have strategies. I know what I need to be doing. I know I should record everything I spend, balance my virtual checkbook, and stay on a strict budget. But I fail. I can’t even blame my parents.
They were great about teaching me to be responsible with money. They got me a checking account when I was in high school, taught me how to budget, taught us to tithe, took us to a few money seminars, and set a great example of frugality in our household. I have the knowledge.
I’m not a terrible money-manager, but I just can’t get it together; I don’t flourish. I manage.
The wonderful problem of having two amazing jobs this year is that I don’t have to be ultra-paranoid that I will run out of money. I should be paranoid since it took me so long to find a second job over the summer and my account stores took quite a hit. But, I think I’m a little immune to the strain.
I have learned that, as long as I can pay my bills and stay afloat, I can survive, even if I don’t have a large reserve of money. I don’t desire to live that way, and I am working on building my reserves again, especially since I am graduating soon and don’t know what my job future will be post-graduation.
This is an area of my life I would like to improve. I kind of like doing it. Knowing my budget is gratifying. Managing my money can be fun. When I first moved out, I was money (excuse the pun). I was very close to the edge of being able to afford things, and I was very careful. I knew how much I could spend for everything, stuck to it, and had no shame in refusing things that were outside of my budget.
I could tell you exactly how much rent was, what my utility budget was, and if I had spent over or under on my grocery budget. The numbers don’t seem to be sticking this semester.
I do it all mentally. I know roughly how much I can spend on things. I know if I should be spending less on an area and keep myself in check, but, unfortunately, I have learned that the world doesn’t end if I don’t stay within my parameters.
Aside from my bills, my spending records are a great mish-mash. I keep a mental tally. Two aspects are not fly-away, though: tithing and saving. These have always happened in my finances, but I have a new strategy for effectiveness and accountability. It’s my newest innovation; it’s been working, and I remain resolute.
When I get the paychecks from my two jobs deposited into my account, I immediately siphon off 20 percent and move them to different accounts. That way, I know how much I am tithing, and I have no excuses to not save money from my paychecks.
Since I am bad at bookkeeping (Bob Cratchit is not my uncle), moving my 10 percent savings into a separate account is better than me vainly trying to keep a piece of paper with a record of the savings as they add up over time. It gets added to a visible account this way, which I know not to touch.
I figure, though right now, the rest of my spending may be helter-skelter, these two most important aspects will be covered. This, my friends, is my faithful narrative of my financial book-keeping.