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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adult Responsibilities: Starting a Budget

I'll admit that I'm probably not the best at managing my finances. College often felt like I was living in the highest of highs or the lowest of lows, depending on how recently I had gotten my paycheck. While I mentally "had a plan" of putting X amount into savings and putting Y amount towards my credit card bill, I often spent more than I had, which meant praying that my paycheck would be deposited before my rent check went through, etc., etc. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the stress that that lifestyle creates. So, I'm getting serious about money.

My goals are to feel financially stable, meaning to live within my means and to have money in savings to rely on in the event of emergency, and to pay off my credit card debt. So, step one was to create a budget.

via Jenna's instagram

I admit, I used this photo that my friend Jenna snapped from Cosmo as a guide for setting my budget: 50% essentials, 20% future, and 30% fun. While the source is laughable, the guide makes sense for me and is pretty similar to the advice that I found while doing some Google research. So, I set up a table on Excel and broke down my expenses within each of the categories (essentials, future, fun). I used my past spending to give me a rough idea of how much I spend on the essentials each month. This gives me a hypothetical guide of how much I can spend on what. Then, each month I will track my income and spending in each category. It will be really hard for me to stick to, as I realize that my spending on shopping has to be much smaller that what I'm used to and as I learn that overspending in one category means that I will have to compensate by spending less in a different category. But, I believe it will be really good for me. I will put money into savings every month, which will ease my stress a lot. I will finally live within my means. And, I will pay off my credit card debt.

While part of my budgeted money goes toward paying off my credit card, that isn't enough to pay off my debt. I know this from experience. I've always been very good about putting a certain percentage of my paycheck onto my credit card. Always, even when expenses are tight. My problem is that I keep using my credit card. So, in addition to making payments, I'm also starting this rule: I will make purchases using my credit card if and only if I can immediately pay it off in full. It'll be tough (mentally) to stick to it, but it will really pay off in the long run.

It'll be tough to stick to a budget and to be mindful with my spending, but I'm committed to the challenge. Its time for me to get my money in check and to start a good habit that will last a lifetime.


  1. I think that categorizing and monitoring your expenses is a great start in budgeting your money. That way, you can track where you spend the most. It is also a good idea that you decided to limit your credit card usage. I hope that you can really stick to the rule that you imposed on yourself and be committed in budgeting and saving your money.

    Valencia Paz

    1. Thanks for the comment! It is really hard to not spend my money sometimes (especially when retailers email you about discounts!!) but I do think that it'll be a good habit for the long run.


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