Day in the Life, Experiments, Finance

Juliet’s April Financial Diary

Last month, I gave myself a budget of $500 for everything beyond rent, utilities, and Internet… and I failed. This month, I am challenging myself again with a budget of $650 for everything beyond rent, utilities, Internet, and air travel.

How will I do this month?

April 2017 Expenses Breakdown

Category Total Amount March 2017’s Amount Notes
Gas & tolls

$80.94

$118.03

Transportation

$25.89

$129.17

Public transportation, Uber, and Lyft
Groceries

$251.32

$176.60

Eating out

$209.01

$426.62

March was a lot higher because I was traveling.
Shopping

$256.34

$336.00

Entertainment

$84.67

Concerts
Other

$75.18

$106.36

Includes gym, student loans, Spotify
GRAND TOTAL

$983.35
(over by $333.35)

$1,292.78
(over by $792.78)

THIS IS HARD! I hate this game.

There are so many thoughts running through my head right now. I think it’s about time I put more structure around my finances so I am living the way I want and not the way I think I should be.

Do some self-reflection.
I’m proud of how my shopping habits have changed over a month:

  1. I did some spring cleaning, and donated many things I don’t wear or use as well as took mental inventory of what I have. It helped me make sure that I use up what I have first before buying and maintaining huge stockpiles of crap.
  2. I’m getting better at not buying things on impulse or anxiety – I used to buy stuff because “there’s a huge sale” or “who knows the next time I’ll come across it again?!” Now I tell myself that even if I miss a sale or something sells out, don’t worry because time is everybody’s friend – there will be another sale and there’s a good chance that something better of what I wanted will come around in the future.
  3. I contemplate more before buying now. Would I get value out of this product? Is this something I need or something I want? If it’s something I want, wait for a couple of months and see if I still want it.

I didn’t include the airfare tickets I bought in my April expenses, and it negatively affected my financial mentality. Similar to “out of sight, out of mind”, but instead it was “out of the monthly expenses, out of mind”, but that’s not how it should be because it’s still money I spent that I have to pay for… so now I have to tighten my purse strings in order to feel financially comfortable again.

How did I feel throughout this month?
Not bad – I didn’t feel like I was hiding from the world because I’m on a financial diet. I have a better understanding of my friends who are more, for lack of a better word, cheap. At first I thought they were being cheap whenever they suggested home cooking and wine nights in instead of trying a new restaurant.

Once I took a closer look at where my money was going, I definitely thought more about what I value in my life: experiences and the company around me. Instead of doing things because of FOMO, I’d rather spend that money on things I actually want, like traveling or trying new restaurants. (Side note: even though I generally don’t enjoy being drunk off my ass, I do sometimes just want to be a girl out on the town.) I also am starting to believe that you don’t need to spend money to experience a good life. I’m definitely testing out this theory in London in May.

What does London have to do with money?
I’m going to visit some friends in London! Even though I am more lenient about spending while on vacation, but I don’t want to go overboard. At first, my itinerary request read like a Rich Kid of Instagram’s Instagram: money signs everywhere. I was terrified that I might dig myself into a financial hole, so I searched up free things to do and found so many things. I’m giving myself an arbitrary budget of $400 to spend in London, so stay tuned for that!

Incoming thought!
I’m suddenly remembering the people in my life who are money-thrifty or money-savvy.

  1. A male co-worker was telling me he used Ebates, and I was like, “What?! You, a dude, use Ebates?!” I was surprised because I never thought that there were guys who cared about how their spending habits. Then he gave me a few other money-saving pointers, which I have forgotten, but I will share them if I ever remember.
  2. One of my study abroad roommates was always on the hunt for good deals. On social media, it looks like she’s a huge spender, but I know she’s always searching for ways to not spend as much. I want to tap into that mentality.

What’s my financial action plan then?

  1. I want to start fresh by paying off all my credit cards at once – planning to do so in the first week of May.
  2. Automatically put 10% of my paycheck in savings and 15% in other accounts. That way I’m not stuck in a cycle of spending the money before I do what I always say I want to do. I’ve been telling myself for 5 months now to put money away, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Any podcasts or articles I read this month that I particularly enjoyed?

  • Many people say that personal finance touches and affects every part of one’s life, and it wasn’t until the last two months that I believe it. I follow the KonMari method of tidying to an extent. Last summer, I cleaned out my wardrobe to only pieces that spark joy in me. Having a closet with very little extraneous stuff helps me maintain a clean bedroom; having a clean living environment helps my mind stay uncluttered; and having a clear mind helps me make better decisions, whether it is money-related or not. You can hear more from Marie Kondo on this Tim Ferriss podcast episode.
  • Recently came across some tips from people who retired early, and maybe it’s because I listen to several personal finance podcasts, but I think I’m slowly getting into that mindset of hacking myself to lead the life I want.
  • This money cheat sheet – the ones that I’m more keen to listen to right now are “save 20% of your salary” and “the best time to invest is now”.

Any final thoughts?
At some point, you cannot spend any less and you have to think about making more. That will be something I tackle for a later month – baby steps, right?

One last thing, the video below is my take on monthly hauls that YouTubers do. Check it out!

Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this post, or anything else!

-Juliet

Previous posts in this series: March 2017

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