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.