So I’ve decided already what April’s something new is and I’m so excited about it that I have to share it now.
I have struggled with money for a lot of my adult life. I have found myself in a lot of problematic scenarios and in a lot of financial holes. I’ve never been very good at budgeting and I can’t say I’m awesome at conservative spending. I have only just recently landed in an income position that has allowed me to live life in a generally comfortable sort of way and I am very thankful for that. My comfortable and your comfortable might be different. My comfortable is still having a little money in the bank and being able to put some aside in savings every paycheck. I don’t buy extravagant things very often, but I do have the problem of buying a lot of little things.
A couple of things have added to my problem:
- Taking up running and working out in general has really put a damper on my cash since I had nothing for those activities when I started. Now I pay a gym membership and worry about appropriate clothing, etc. Over the winter I was purchasing a base of winter gear and now I am trying to have appropriate hot weather gear. Seems silly, really, when it’s an activity that you could do barefoot in any clothing. Now I have compression sleeves and hydration belts. What?
- I stopped buying cheap food. Seems like a silly thing also, but once my income started increasing, so did the amount I was spending on food. I think it probably has something to do with age also: I don’t buy pizza rolls or hot pockets like I used to. I switched to buying more organic and overall better for you kinds of things. While I do try to stay on the cheaper side, I can’t say I am not a sucker when I go to the grocery on an empty stomach.
- The acquiring of an iPhone and iPad has meant buying more iThings. I have tapered off a lot, but it’s still just far too easy to pull up iTunes and buy an album or think “I need an app for that” and then purchase one that’s “only $1!” That stuff adds up. I also buy more books now since that’s one of the main reasons for owning the iPad, not a bad thing really, but not nice on the wallet either.
There are other factors, of course. I have a student loan payment that I didn’t used to have. I’ve spent money on a personal trainer on and off over the year. I’ve had a lot of medical bills in the past year from MRIs, physical therapy, surgery, etc. I am really thankful that I’ve been able to keep up on all of this and not fall into my old spending holes.
However, I think there are problems with what I’ve been doing and I want to fix them. Sometimes I’m really good about my budget and sometimes I just let a little too loose. I don’t find myself in trouble necessarily, but I don’t like what I’m doing either. I really enjoy using YNAB for money purposes, but I am not using their method very well (and it’s a good one, so I really should!). So, my something new for April is going to be spending on the income I had three years ago. If I was good at math, I’d tell you the percentages, but I’m not. Let’s just say that if I was living on the same income now as I did three years ago and with the same bills, I would have less than half of what I do now in “disposable” income.
What am I including in disposable income? For the purposes of this exercise, it’s anything that isn’t a set bill. For bills, I am not including my gym membership or savings, but I am including my student loan, car insurance, phone, electric, etc. So disposable is going to have to cover groceries, gas, eating out, care products, and miscellaneous. There are going to be some exceptions to this because of some of the things happening in April, like my boyfriend’s birthday and my trip to Kansas City to see my stepbrother. Those things are going to come out of my usual income, not the income I’m using for April’s Live Like It’s 2009 Budget. I will take “emergencies” as they come (and hopefully there won’t be any). Seems fair enough, really.
I am actually really excited about this despite the fact that it’s going to be a little tough. Between now and the 1st, I’m going to spend some time in YNAB trying to create something that will work for my new limits. I also think that if I can successfully do this, I will probably reward myself somehow. Almost all the “excess” money is going to go into savings, which will be it’s own reward. But maybe I’ll use some of it to donate to a charity, or maybe I’ll put some away in an IRA. I’ll see what happens. A reward that will keep rewarding is a nice idea.
So come on, April 1st!