Aside from the general fixing and clearing out and decluttering of my apartment – more on that soon – one of the major things I’m trying to work on at the moment is my relationship with money. I’ve written and talked and whined about my financial irresponsibility a lot so I’m not going to go into the whole thing. The basic summary is, I make money, I spend that money on Crap I Don’t Need, I end up with debt and this is bad, because going into debt over crap you don’t need is a stupid thing to do.
So over the past six months, I’ve been trying to be better. And I have been! I’m not perfect, but I am better. Here are some of the things I’ve done differently:
I opened a savings account. I got my first savings account ever about six months ago. Savings were not really a thing I considered before, because all my money was going toward the aforementioned Crap I Don’t Need (dresses, accessories, nail polish, lunch, dresses). In my defence, I was an intern/freelancer until two years ago, but I do wish I had started saving earlier. Now I feel like at least if I have some kind of financial emergency, it won’t destroy me, and I won’t have to turn to my parents to bail me out. I feel like I’m creating at least a small safety net, and that’s definitely a good thing for me.
I started a budget. Mint.com has basically changed my life. I’m kind of an all or nothing person, and if I don’t check my finances every day and see exactly where my money is going, I’m liable to spend it on that Crap I Don’t Need. With a budget, I can still allow for fun stuff like shopping and restaurants, I just can’t indulge quite as often as I might ideally like to if I had unlimited funds. I like Mint because every transaction on my debit or credit card shows up there, and I can’t deny the cold, hard numbers. So far, budgeting is kind of like a challenging game – I have to stay within certain limits, and it can feel restrictive sometimes, but it also feels satisfying when I manage to do it.
I stopped buying Crap I Don’t Need. This is probably the hardest thing for me, but I’m doing surprisingly well! Just this week Modcloth, my favourite clothing store ever in the whole world, had a 70 per cent off sale. Usually I would jump on instantly and buy half a dozen dresses and feel that weird rush of adrenaline I get from shopping. That’s a normal reaction, right??? But this time, I scrolled through the items, reminded myself there is nothing I need because I have like a billion dresses or so, and that was all. This might sound minor, but this is a big deal for me! I’m pretty sure I’ve bought something during every major Modcloth sale for the last four years. Which is…a lot. Glancing at my order history for that site is almost enough to give me a panic attack. Anyway, I’m doing this new thing where I don’t buy things impulsively, I only purchase things that I’ve thought about, that I can afford, and that I actually need.
I’m trying to be more financially independent. This is going to sound like a stupid thing to complain about, but my parents have always given me way too much financial support, and this needs to change. They can afford to help me – that’s not the point. Having them pay for my stuff makes me feel like I’m not a fully formed individual, and it’s not a nice feeling. I recently convinced them to let me pay my own car insurance (I know I sound like a brat when I talk about these things, but I DID have to convince them). For some reason, my mom is adamant about paying my cell phone bill, and it’s really hard to argue with someone who is trying to help you, so I’m letting that one go for now. Instead, I’m taking advantage of her generosity, and I’ve doubled my student loan payment, so now I’ll have it paid off in three years. I don’t have any other debt right now, so that’s something I can definitely handle.
These are all small changes, and basically I’ve just made it up to the level of a regular, mostly functioning adult as far as money’s concerned, but I’m still proud of myself. I just hope I can manage to keep it up.