Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Pessimistic View on Finances

Some people are realists, others optimists, and the rest, pessimists.

I tend to fall in the last category for when I view my finances. For some reason, being able to prepare for the worst and finding out the best makes me feel better. Especially at the end of the month. My conversations with myself usually consist of:

Me; I probably only made $3 in tips (probably not...)
Me: I probably spent $100 in wine (probably true...)
Me: I suck at budgeting, I don't know where I put all my money...

(Looks at finished calculations)

Me; OH! I did accurately estimate my wine intake (too much), entertainment (too much) and debt repayment(...).... 

At the end of the month, I feel like I know where cuts need to be made and where certain areas can be increased or decreased. It's not a perfect system, but knowing that I'm doing my best makes me feel proud. Knowing that a large portion of my income goes towards retirement savings and student loans makes me feel better about eating out.

I believe that a lot of 20 year olds are really optimistic about their finances because they feel like they can just barely get through each day. They have a roof over their head and a crappy car that gets them wherever they need and want to go for the time being. It's not that that's bad, but they tend to overlook their loans as something for when they have a better job and a better salary. And retirement is something for when they really have a job that MAKES them save money.

But my question is what happens when you are in your 30's and are still scraping by? Does that still make you feel good about yourself? Or do you see others doing just a bit better, saving more, getting in a vacation or two every now and then, and feel like you are falling behind?

The habits for me are created right now when I have the tightest of budgets and the least amount of wiggle room. I'd rather feel like I'm falling behind in my 20's and catching up later in life rather than feeling like I'm doing okay every single year. I know I won't have a crystal ball into everyone's finances, but at least at 30, it'll feel like all these years saving and scrimping really did count for something. 

How do you feel like you are doing in your finance attitude? Has it changed as the years have gone by? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I (Somewhat) Like Sick Days...

On Saturday, there was this overall feeling of 'I'm coming down with something but I can't put my hand on it feeling'. Now, that I'm in bed, and can say it's a cold/possible flu, all the warning signs were there from the beginning! Anyway, besides eating soup and getting lots of rest, I decided to log on and write about why I kind of like sick days.

First, they (for the most part) become no spend days. Not that I try and find something to buy everyday, but I do tend to spend money when I'm out and about. Being home with little to no energy means I am making use of the food and objects I have at home. And if money is spent, it's all for the sake of getting better!

Second, I have an excuse (mainly for myself) for lying around and not doing anything. Most days I'm pushing myself to get this and that done, but today, it's all about resting and getting better. Tomorrow is another day to get it all accomplished.

Third, I get to catch up on all my reading. There are always a few books that I'm working on, and even with setting aside some reading time each day, it's never enough. So, I can dedicate hours and hours to finishing all those books that I've been dying to know how they end.

Even though you might be lying on your bed or couch, feeling miserable, try and find something good out of it all. Maybe you get to finally watch the full season of that show you've been dying to catch up on. Or you get the sleep you've been missing out on the past few weeks! Today is the day!

What do you enjoy doing on sick days?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Does It All Mean?

January is all about starting anew. Some of the questions I've been asking myself are what does it mean to be frugal, a minimalist, a personal finance blogger.

What does it mean to be frugal? For me, it's about spending my money wisely on the things that are truly important to me. My budget is not there for show and tell, but to be put to actual use. To weed out all those fake needs that the world says make a person happy. It allows me to live the life I want to, but also to save for the future I don't know about.

What does it mean to be a minimalist? For me, it's about choosing the things I want in my home to serve a purpose. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to the point where everything is not only useful but also beautiful, but I know with some time and effort, I'll slowly replace the utilitarian aspects with those that are a blend of the bf and I's style. It's being able to focus on the home aspect, and not all the clutter that can accumulate. To spend time doing things we enjoy in a place we love.

What does it mean to be a personal finance blogger? Not only is it to share, my experiences and my thoughts, but to open myself up to a large and wonderful community. To not only hear feedback, but also to obtain support along this journey of becoming debt free.

It's important for me, and possibly for you, to ask these questions every now and then. It helps me re-evaluate what my priorities in life are and why I do them on an everyday basis. These were the first three that came to my mind because they are a bit against the grain to most people in my everyday life. So, these are the ones that I keep thinking and reaffirming.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's In A Home?

Image Courtesy of  Sira Anamwong/

Today has been a super relaxing day for me. Yesterday, I was able to take care of a few tasks, which left me today to do whatever it is I wanted. With my goal to try and watch less TV, I decided to catch up on a few books and pamper myself!

One thing I try and do is make sure to take a few minutes after doing some things online and before plopping down for a reading session is to tidy - up the house. Usually (well, maybe every now and then) it takes about 30 minutes to tidy up the entire place.

This got me thinking about what my favorite aspect of our home is. Even though there are lots of changes we would like to make in the future, it's a really great size for the two of us.

It might be that we are minimalists at heart and hate bringing stuff in (because that means it needs to be cleaned and put away some place) but also we enjoy what we have and talk about what else we want to bring into the home. Being able to keep our home clean, and have the time to do whatever activity is calling to us that day is what I absolutely love.

How about you? What's one aspect of your home that you completely adore and couldn't live without? 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

For the Love of Clothing...

Clothes are something that we all need (well, most would subscribe to this idea), and yet most people go overboard so that their closets are stuffed to the brim. Most people don't even budget, they see something they like, and poof, the credit card comes out!

This past year, I noticed that my budget for clothes was maintained, however, I really didn't buy any 'fun clothes'. Which is okay by me because I have enough clothes at the moment. However, my mom was nice enough that when I went home, took me shopping and bought me lots of great new items that are high quality and should last me quite some time. They are also of the big kid variety, and make me look more like an adult and less like a 20 - something away from campus. She also bought me a few more clothes for my job.

With that, one thing I realized I need to do this year is set aside a budget for work clothes and everyday items. At my current job, I have to wear a uniform with clothes that I would probably never wear in real life. And with how often they are worn and need to get washed, they wear out a lot quicker and need to be replaced every few months. And even better, all these clothes are tax deductible, which makes it even more important that I keep everything up to date and all receipts right in place!

The interesting thing about clothes I find is that because they are a necessity, you need a line for it in your budget. However, clothes are so cheap at some places, and stores for them are all over the place, they can easily become a want. It's great to be able to show off your figure, but it's also great to have some money in the bank.

As much as people hate it, having a budget reminds you where your priorities are. If you have the money to dress like a celebrity, go ahead. But if you don't, check to see the status of your current clothes and how far they can get you. If you don't have great quality clothes, perhaps replacing your favorites with higher quality ones as they wear out can be your next goal.

One of my favorite tricks is if you notice that some of your day wear is becoming a bit more worn, why not make it into sleeping wear? Only you and your family are probably going to see the worn patches and you'll probably be sleeping in them most of the time anyway.

Any other great tips on how to save money on clothing?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Feeling Guilty About Purchases?! Where's that Budget?!

There are times when my friends (and even myself till around middle of last year) would complain they felt guilty about buying something small or going out to eat spontaneously.

My one response to them (in my head) is where's your budget?! 

A budget is amazing because it tells you where your money(or almost all your money) should be going. Your budget lets you know how much money you allocate towards household expenses, groceries, etc. It should be telling you what each dollar you bring in is going to do FOR YOU! 

So when an unexpected dinner date comes up, I always ask myself, how's my budget looking. If it's the end of the month and I have been too busy to go out at all, I'm willing to hop on board. But if I've been to one too many happy hours, I'll more than likely skip it.

Never should a budget be so constricting that you don't have fun every now and then. That's not a well planned out budget. Make sure that you put in categories that not only fit your lifestyle but also will make you happy at the end of the day, the week and the month. 

So, how's your budget looking? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why Don't 20-something's Save for Retirement?

Sometimes I'll end up talking with friends about finances, and they will comment on how there is no way for them to save not only for tomorrow expenses, but also for far off in the future. It seems too difficult with so many pressing bills and all the loans that are coming their way. Usually though, we'll be eating some small appetizers and drinking a beverage or two, and I wonder what if this meeting had never happened and the money spent was put into the bank...

It's great to take advantage of life, especially in your 20's when you might not have as many responsibilities. However, now is the best time to actually start setting aside some money. Being able to set aside even a small amount makes it a habit that you get used to after awhile. And before you know it, it is a super easy habit and a small fortune is yours.

It's sometimes hard to save for those unexpected or once a year expenses, but retirement? That's something that's way far off that really has no tangibility to it. Saving for something that you really have no understanding about how it will be when you get there is even harder.

But those 20 dollars you spent on a movie and maybe dessert afterwards can go towards a retirement account that you contribute to on a weekly basis. It's only 20 dollars! Not an arm and a leg. And the best part about saving in your 20's is that you have the power of time and compound interest. The money has time to grow above and beyond these small amounts into something that can help you survive for a year or two once in your 60's.

What's worse is when I hear of my friends who have had jobs since they graduated (lucky...) and still have not set up their 401k! What is this?! Throwing free money out the window is right!

So what are a few steps that you can take today?!

  • Sign up for your employer's 401k. If you are confused, there is always HR or find out who in your company is responsible for this area. 
  • Open a Roth IRA, especially if your employer does not have a retirement vehicle. There are many places where you can open the IRA, make sure that it suits you and especially make sure the fees aren't exorbitant! 
  • Set aside a small amount to be taken out automatically with each paycheck. Start at something that is reasonable for YOU! Not something that other people have told you or say is law. If $50 is a great start every other paycheck, go ahead. You can always increase it or decrease it but make sure it's consistent. 
  • Set it and forget it! The best part is that once it's going, and everything is invested wisely, you'll find that your money will work for you!
Your 20's should be about enjoying life, but don't forget about how you will enjoy those later years too! 

Your future self will thank you immensely.