Sunday, May 6, 2012

Money, money, money

Gosh, don't ya just hate money?? Well, perhaps you love/hate money if you are out there earning an income, but coming from a student, let me just say this: Money can be a total fun-sucker. In recent months money seems to be a constant presence in my life and an ever growing burden. Perhaps because of my care troubles, perhaps because I'm upon graduation, perhaps because my loan money is dwindling at the end of the semester. Truth is, I can't escape it. When I complain, Howie always turns to me and says "That's why every college student should be required to take a business class. I had to take a science, why didn't you take intro to finance?" Well, though I hate to admit it, I think he is right.

So what can I do? I'll have to teach myself, so I'm adding it to my bucket list to learn to manage my finances wisely with my own knowledge, rather than by my parent's continued unsolicited advice (though I'm not quite sure I'll be able to ever stop receiving advice, at least I'll have my own tricks up my sleeve). I'll be graduating in 3 months with a boat load of a debt becoming the new breadwinner of our little two person family. While my breadwinner status won't be official until our wedding day, it will still be in effect to a certain extent unofficially. While I have some time until I'll be required to start paying back my loans, I'd like to get started right away. I'll also be saving for my wedding and be planning to possibly budget more costly living expense if we choose to make the move into the city. With that, aside from reading my bank statements and paying my credit card bills on time... I know little else about truly budgeting and being in full control of my money. What if there are other banks out there that are better? What if there are other ways of reducing expenses I don't even realize I don't need to be spending? What about investing?

The first thing to do is to look at what I'm spending now. No, I'm not totally out of control, but I have noticed my credit card bill escalating over the winter months. Mentally, I've cracked a little from being stringent and had a mini spending spree with various things, especially at the super market. I've fallen victim to buying things on sale even though I may not need to. I also went a little nuts with textbooks and miscellaneous shopping. What can I cut down on? All three of those things.

Goal 1: Reduce my supermarket bill! I used to be excellent at keeping my bill under $100 for 2+ weeks worth of food for two. Lately I keep hitting $120, $110, $130... all of that adds up. Why? I can rationalize treating myself with food because I have to eat to live. That's bad for my tummy and my wallet. So my goal is to become more strict with buying only whats on sale, if the sale price is less than the bargain brand. If its an item I actually need, then stick with the bargain. If it's neither on a quality sale and its not something that I need, forget about it. The things I buy regardless of sale are only the things that I can't stock up on because of shelf life: i.e. milk, fresh produce.

Goal 2:  Stop buying things just because they are on sale! Its just silly.

Goal 3: Sell things used! I have a stack of old textbooks that I just do not need... Plan to sell them back on Amazon. If I had a yard, I would plan a yard sale of the things I've accumulated but don't really need.

Goal 4: Plan better! If I want to go shopping because I need a dress, make a mental plan that I will only shop for dresses. If I forgot something at the supermarket I need for a meal, ONLY purchase that one item. I need to stop using required shopping trips as an excuse to buy things I never would have gotten anyway.

Goal 5: Educate myself. This is going to take quite a bit of time, but it all starts with the will. I've already been re-inspired today from reviewing several articles I've found on Yahoo! News about saving money: 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances, and 7 Compulsive Shopping Traps. This advice is FREE, and you can find similar articles on any major news site or search engine. With the upcoming changes in my life, I certainly could stand to learn a thing or two about better taking care of my finances. 

1 comment:

  1. My dad got a book for my brother on basic finances, since he is also financially un-....i'll go with "uneducated" to be nice to my dear brother. If you want, I'll find out what it was, but I'm pretty sure its a well-known, popular book.

    As for grocery shopping, may I recommend: