Everyone has their own personal struggles with finance. As a youngin’ I was obsessed with making extra babysitting money so that I could sock it away in my piggy bank and would carefully think of all the expensive things I would buy with it. My dream as a teenager was to purchase a green VW bug and I vividly remember calculating out how much my dream car would cost, how much I would need to save, and how long it would take me to get there.
I never did end up buying the car, but the point is this: I do ok with money. However, I have a lot to learn about my own personal finance and have no idea how to navigate student loans, a mortgage, retirement accounts, or what my credit card entails.
Fast forward to my life now, where a low income and an expensive city clash with my desire to save! save! save! Plus, I like going out to eat and spending my money on more frivolous items. Currently my accounts break down like this:
Emergency savings: 11.18%
Travel savings: 13.51%
Undesignated savings: 33.2%
Undesignated savings #2: 18.54%
Merrill Lynch account: 23.57%
For the time being I don’t feel comfortable disclosing how much I get paid or what my current checking account statement is, but there are a few key points that I’m sure you can see right off the bat. First, why do I have two savings accounts that are undesignated? Well, I use Bank of America and for some reason I have 2 checking accounts with two linked savings accounts. I have no idea why or how this happened, but does it really matter? I’ve tried to use one for long-term savings and the other for savings for expenses such as my quarterly tuition bill, or wedding-related expenses, but then I forget which one is which and I end up pulling from one or the other. In the next couple months I’m going to start moving money around so that I can make my goals more quickly. The money is there, it’s just not sitting in the right place!
The second is – no debt! I’m so grateful that I don’t have any debt and am able to pay off my credit card every month. I only have one credit card and use it for most of my expenses including groceries, eating out, coffee, gifts, gas, auto insurance, gym expenses, and fun items. It’s a rewards card, so I figure I might as well use it as much as possible to get those miles and one day put them towards an awesome vacation.
Currently I use Mint.com to track my spending. It provides me with all of my accounts, allows me to set up a budget and track my spending, and I can see how and where I’m spending over time. My goal for the next month is: spend less on food. I have already spent over 25% of my total income on food this month, and that’s pretty representative of what I’ve normally been doing. Ignore the “Misc Expenses”, that comes from the wedding fund and isn’t directly related to my monthly spending.
My goal for the next month is to:
1. Make my lunch and morning coffee and take them to work/class every day. It’s so easy for me to buy coffee in the morning before my 8am class, so I need to make a more focused effort to make coffee in the morning and bring it with me.
2. Limit eating out to twice a week. Weekends kill me in this area, which means I need to be more mindful of spending when I’m out with friends or A. I just have to learn how to say no!
There you have it, my finances in a nut shell. Now off to plan our lunches for the week!