Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Budget Living

So I'm learning how to budget my money. I know it may make me sound totally spoiled here, but I've just never ever had to budget before. I realized, as my dad put it when I announced my predicament on Sunday, I've realized there's a bottom to the well. I'm 26. I have a decent job. It's about time I started saving some money. The problem with me, as I've said before, is that I am a creature of habit. I have to put myself into a catastrophic not-a-penny-to-my-name state of mind to learn how to save. This means that even though I have enough money to live and buy more than one drink out every so often, I have to make sure I don't think that way or I'll totally blow my budget. Addictive personality that I am.

So step 1 was figuring out my disposable income minus pre-set bills like rent and utilities and my bi-weekly pedicures. APK looked at me, exasperated, over the bagel breakfast he was treating me to Sunday morning. I offered to pay using the change I'd emptied out of my cash cow (a piggy bank shaped like a cow). "Look, either you have to cut the pedicures down to once a month or you have to get another job. And you can't go spending $40 at Whole Foods everytime you go to someone's house for dinner."

Step 2 was talking to my dad once I figured out that I would have to change way too much about my life if I didn't get some financial aid from him. He was very receptive. Understood my wanting to have a savings account. Great guy, my dad.

Step 3 was looking at my bank statement and realizing that for everytime I run out of soda or Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese (my breakfast choice) and hit the grocery store, I purchase about $40 worth of unnecessary groceries. Monday night, I went to the SFW in Virgina and bought $70 worth of groceries including a 24-case and 6 bottles of soda. I wanted the chicken and dumpling soup for $2.50 a can. I bought 3 cans of the sale soup at $1.85 a can. When APK wanted to come to dinner last night, I offered him Stroganoff Hamburger Helper made with Boca fake ground meat (total cost $6). He was fine with it. Even after I sent him out with $2 in nickels and dimes to get skim milk. I guess he really likes me.

Step 4 was learning to pack my lunch for work. This saves me about $10 a day. Bringing my own soda can saves me $1.25 a day. One soda can costs roughly 25 cents if you buy the pack of 24 for $5.99. Buying the soda in a store or restaurant costs $1.50 or more. Honestly, I like knowing the calorie count of my lunch so it works out.

Step 5 is putting guilt on myself everytime I spend money on things like coffee (needed some this morning) and only bringing the amount of cash I'm planning on spending out with me to bars. Tonight, Rosa Mexicano, I'm bringing $20. That's 2 sangrias at $8 each and a tip on each. No food.

You live and learn I guess. I'll let you know how it goes.


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