For me, there is no bigger demon to face than my personal finances. It seems that as an adult, it’s just one of those things that I should be good at. I mean, children call me ma’am; shouldn’t that give me an automatic ability?
This is really embarrassing to admit, but I’m more of what you’d call an intuitive spender. I have never tracked what I earn, but I spend what I want and I don’t end up in overdraft, so that kinda works out, right? I know I’m wrong, you can stop rolling your eyes now.
Instead of just tackling my finances, I tend to coast along in a state of paranoia about the numbers in my bank account. This is no way to live!
I know there are others out there who are making the same mistakes that I am. So this week I’ll talk about the anxiety producing nightmare that is personal finance, and next week I’ll follow up with some helpful tips!
Creating a Budget
You’ve decided to get your finances in order. Excellent choice! Time to open a crisp new spreadsheet in Excel and get your damn life together.
…but what should the spreadsheet look like? And how do you really even use Excel?
After some much needed Googling, you’ve got a template and a plan. Now it’s really time to get your life together!
You try making a list of your fixed expenses, but you’re left with the uneasy feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Already a sense of impending failure creeps into your mind. Shouldn’t you know about things you pay for every month?
Next, you look through your credit and debit statements to get an idea of your variable monthly spending.
I’m sorry, you spent HOW MUCH on eating out last month?
A few tears are appropriate here to mourn all the money you’ve wasted.
Sticking to a Budget
Ok, you’ve decided on a budget, and the mistakes you’ve made are in the past. There’s something shiny and new about you. Now, you are responsible.
But…there is that birthday next week. And you didn’t really make room for a gift, dinner, and the traditional 2-3 drinks that going out with friends usually means.
You’ve been irresponsible with money for so long, what does one more month really matter at this point? And at least you have a budget that you know you’re going over, so that’s progress.
Game plan: DIY a gift, order the cheapest meal, and stick to one drink. Then you’re only a little over…
You’ve got a budget, and you’re doing an…ok job of following it. Too bad your car door just blew into the car beside you and left a big dent (FYI this actually happened to me this week).
Because you’re a good person, you leave a note and let the universe decide your punishment for having the audacity to believe you could actually be financially stable.
You know it’s going to cost at least a few hundred dollars if the other person decides to give you a call.
This is definitely not in your stupid spreadsheet.
Comparing to Friends
You know that Facebook is technically the devil’s work (curse you Zucherberg!), but you can’t help looking at what everyone is up to.
You probably shouldn’t be so petty, but maybe that person who was mean to you in high school works a deep fryer now. Nope, CEO of their own multimillion dollar business. Ok.
There are also 3 people celebrating raises, another 2 celebrating promotions, and a whole lot of other people with fancy, important sounding job titles.
How is everyone so on top of life?
Ugh, you just got invited to ANOTHER birthday party? How do people afford spending this much? Are you making less than literally everyone you know?
Should you buy a lottery ticket and cross your fingers that one day you’ll have enough money to be a free spirit again?
Knowing You Should Invest…But Never Do
If you are going to feel free one day, you should probably be investing in a retirement savings account and maybe create a diverse portfolio of other investments.
You know that these terms relate to some kind of helpful action, but the idea is so abstract that you have no idea where to even start starting. The bank probably…
Every time you look for information you’re bombarded with a dizzying swirl of numbers and jargon so bewildering that it’s enough to put you off for at least another year. I mean, you’re still young.
What happened to good old fashioned piggy banks anyway?
Dwindling Savings (and where you think you should be)
Investing will have to wait. Even if you were inclined to take the steps to invest in your future, what money do you honestly have to invest?
A few unexpected expenses have made your saving drop like the beat in every single dubstep song (ever). You need to keep something in your account for emergencies, so you’re honestly out of options for now.
Isn’t there some milestone you should be reaching at this point? Remember all those kids who are essentially calling you old? You ARE old.
Where are you supposed to be right now? Shouldn’t you have a decent nest egg, an emergency fund, AND disposable income by now, instead of worrying when you’ll ever have extra money to invest?
Why is this so complicated?
Wondering if You’ll Ever be Able to Afford a House
The dream of a big house with a white picket fence is all but dead. You keep chasing housing prices that just continue to rise every year.
Maybe you could buy with friends? Or set your sites a little lower. You could afford a condo! Maybe you could afford a condo.
You’ll probably be renting forever. Because at this point, all you can afford is a dollhouse…
Hitting close to home? Let me know in the comments!
I don’t want to be the only person out there this bad with money.