My theme for 2013 is “do the work” as I talked about last week. I came upon this mantra after discovering what I wanted my biggest priorities in the new year to be:
- Health: Losing weight, engaging in healthier eating habits, and leading a more active lifestyle
- Social: Reconnecting with friends, being more open to social situations, and finding a core group of girlfriends
- Finances: Buying a car, spending less and saving more, and paying off my medical bills
For today, I want to talk about finances. I will be talking at length over the next few weeks about my personal finances, my goals for getting on track, and my priorities when it comes to spending and saving.
So, confession time? I don’t have the best relationship with money. I’m not terrible at maintaining my budget. I pay my bills on time and while I do live at home, I help my mom out with rent, utilities, food, etc. There are times when I do the whole “I’ll pay you back when I get paid!” when we’re out and about, but it’s not something I make a habit of. But then there’s money left over. And it’s not going to savings. It’s not going to paying off my school loans. It’s not going to my credit cards. It’s not going to paying off my $2,500 medical bill from 2010. It’s going to fun stuff, like pedicures and clothes and vacations. It’s going to weekday lunches out and frivolous items I don’t really need.
I could point fingers at my parents, blaming them for not teaching me proper money management skills. And I know my past and how much we struggled with money growing up has an effect on how I am today. Today, I am not struggling with money and it’s such a difference from how I spent the first 21-22 years of my life. So I know that plays a part in the decisions I make with my money now. But I also know I am an adult and using my past as an excuse isn’t going to fly with me. The past is behind me. I am in charge of my present and my future.
Last year, I wasn’t smart with my money. I didn’t keep a strict budget and once bills were paid, I was off and running with extra money for whatever I wanted. I tried saving, but then ended up moving the money back to my banking account when I needed it. One of my resolutions was to pay off my last two remaining credit cards and never keep a balance month-to-month but it wasn’t until December that I had even one of them paid off.
This year, I want to feel more in control of my finances. I have to find room in my budget for a car payment, car insurance, and gas. I have to find room in my budget to start forking over a large amount to my medical bills. And I definitely have to find room in my budget for savings.
Blogging about finances can be pretty dull and boring, I know, but I wanted to really hone in on what my spending habits look like so I could create a budget that fit my needs. I didn’t want to create a budget out of thin air, with impossible money targets to hit that wasn’t in line with my needs. There’s a science to this, a finesse. I wanted to spend a lot of time discovering my patterns and finding out just where all my money in 2012 went.
The journey was an interesting one, as I poured over my bank and credit card statements and started listing all the different places my money went over the course of the year. Patterns emerged and my eyes were opened at just how much I spent on frivolous items. It was rather astounding to see how much I spent on silly things. I need more control.
It was a process, for sure, and I’m excited to share the journey of how I arrived at a “Perfect For Me” budget that allows me to pay bills, save, and still have money left over for me. I know I’ll learn a lot along the way as I spend less and save more, and I can’t wait to see what else my eyes are opened to.
Next week, I’ll be unraveling my spending habits of 2012. It’s not pretty, but it was necessary for me to sit down and map out what areas I spent the most to paint the most accurate picture of my money habits, and how to gain more control.
What kind of relationship do you have with money? Any money goals for 2013?