Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Financial diet link-up!

First, a thank you is deserved to all of you for your kind and encouraging comments. Things are rough for me right now, that's for sure, and it's all because of money. But I'm staying positive, because I know things will get better. And what's more, I'm taking some action! It all begins with the financial diet.

I'm kind of already on one out of pure necessity (aka, I'm flat broke) but that doesn't mean we can't start the OFFICIAL link up for everyone else! Click the "financial diet" tab at the top of the page, or if you're lazy like me, just click here.

So what is this, anyway? Really, I'm not quite sure yet. A support group sort of thing, perhaps? Really, a way for us all to recognize other bloggers who are trying to get their wallets under control. There will be guidelines, I suppose. Let's think up a few right now.

1. Identify and list your monthly expenses. This includes vitals like rent, electric, gas for your car, etc. But it also includes "luxuries" like cable, dining out, shopping, etc. You don't necessarily have to post all this info for the world to see, but you should create a spreadsheet to help you keep track. Keep an eye out for a Google doc that I'm going to upload soon. You can download it and use it as a starter or a point of reference.

2. Figure out what expenses you can cut. For me, the first things to go will be dining out, shopping and bars. I'm choosing not to cut cable, mostly because I live with the bf and he probably wouldn't be down with that. I'm also not giving up my smartphone and data plan. The use simply makes up for itself. What you cut is up to you, but remember that the more you cut, the more you can save.

3. Start saving! Take all the money from the stuff you cut, as well as any money that's leftover when you subtract your expenses from your income, and open an actual savings account if you have no willpower, or keep in in your sock drawer (it's not like it will make much of a difference in potential interest, given the current economic climate). This is what you'd call a "rainy-day" fund...money that you only touch in true emergencies. Like your car's transmission goes out or you wind up in the hospital. Fake emergencies, like the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale, do not count. There aren't many ways to fail at a financial diet, but this is one of them.

4. Reward yourself. It's important to set aside a little "petty cash" each month, so you don't feel like a scrooge. And hey, we all know that going to the bars with friends and not having a beer with them will seem rude. So decide how much you want to set aside for petty cash each month--I'm thinking about $20 per paycheck for me--and stick to it. I'm going to make it easier on myself by taking it from the ATM. That way, when the cash is gone, I'm done spending for that pay period.

5. Spend wisely. This means on everything. Save some extra cash on groceries by clipping coupons, whether they be from the Sunday paper, junk mailings that you usually toss, or stuff you found online. Sites like Groupon are great, but only if you use them to buy discounts on stuff that you already buy. Don't be buying a Groupon for a $20 manicure, unless you want to use all your petty cash on that one item. For clothes, try to only shop at thrift stores for a month and see how much money you save. Or, stick exclusively to the sales racks at stores like Target and Marshall's, where everything is already affordable.

6. Share! If you have a tip, email me at verbal{dot}melange{at}gmail{dot}com. I'll add it to a list of tips on the Financial Diet page of the blog, and we can really help each other with this one.

Okay, those are all off the top of my head. Shoot me an email or a comment if you have anything to add or see anything that you think should be explained more or changed altogether. And keep an eye out for a post with a link to the Google doc spreadsheet to help get you started! Happy saving, everyone!

8 comments:

  1. I seriously wish I had the will power to do this. I just cannot stop spending frivolously. IT'S SO HARD!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's the point! If it were easy, we wouldn't be in this mess, right? And no one says it has to be permanent...this project is really more of a way to help yourself get some savings stored away, and to rethink spending habits to develop better ones in the future. After a month or two of doing the diet, dropping $50 on clothes or dinner will seem like a luxury...and it will be! It's all about spending smarter and developing good habits :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I regularly use google spreadsheets to track my purchases. I'm really bad about 'yo-yo financial dieting', where I am very frugal for a period and then decide that I deserve a treat, and then I buy myself 17 'treats', and ruin my hard work. Like with a 'food' diet I think the trick is to make 'lifestyle' changes rather than just cut back for a little while. No more expensive lunches for ME for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're absolutely right, Loren. Lifestyle changes is what it's all about! I'm just breaking myself into it really abruptly, so when I relax a little, it will seem less restrictive :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Of course I am in (after my London trip, I feel it would be counter productive to do otherwise)!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good luck! I was on a downhill spiral until my husband and I took a class called Financial Peace University. It changed our lives! Freedom from debt feels so good!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Boy do I need a diet! Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Emma, I really like this post. I live in Washington, D.C., in my own apartment so believe me, I know all about budgeting. I think one great tip to add is packing you lunch to work or eating leftovers. This truly can save you so much money! It was one of the things I really needed to cut when I moved here. Also, I would suggest to ladies (and men!) out there to only have one credit card (and maybe a fuel rewards card). I have one credit card through my bank and a gas card and use both sparingly - I'm talking once, maybe twice a month. My father has always instilled in me the value of not living beyond your means and I think this is something more young people need to learn. I hardly use my credit card, but when I do, I pay it off right away the next month. I think it's a good habit to get in.

    ReplyDelete

Hello, awesome commenter! I love feedback and try to respond to all comments (especially ones with questions) if I can find an email or blog address.

Thaaaaaanks for reading!