I’m assuming I’m not alone in the months-long panic attack that is “post-grad spending”. If you’re not freaking out about it, that’s great! I salute you, and I hope you’re on the path to financial success. For me, making ends meet on a weekly and monthly basis has become pretty stressful. Once I figured out how much money goes to groceries when I’m not on a campus meal plan, each look at my refrigerator became a little more nauseating. Combine that with the desire to continue socializing at the rate of my more lucratively employed friends, and I’m about to hyperventilate.
Am I over exaggerating? Absolutely. I don’t need most of what I purchase. This realization has motivated me to create a plan of attack for my spending so that I can feel confident in my budget and enjoy my life more. I would love if people would join me on this endeavor because I assume that, like weight loss, this lifestyle transition will be made easier with support and advice from others.
Here’s my plan of attack:
- Define current spending habits
- Determine priorities and where cuts can be made
- Create a saving schedule
- Establish a weekly budget for variable expenses
- Use the envelope system for managing variable spending
- Spend less and save more!
For those of you not familiar with the envelope system, it’s pretty simple and pretty old-school. After determining what an appropriate amount of money to spend on variable expenses is week to week, you get cash from the bank, organize the cash into labeled envelopes (groceries, entertainment, clothes, etc.), and that is the limit! If you spend all the money in an envelope before the time period is up, you’re done spending money on that. Period. No using the debit card. No going to the ATM. You gotta make it last. (Credit to Dave Ramsey on this. I’m merely chronicling the application of this method.)
Now, before you freak out, emergencies are a different story. Having to buy medicine for an unexpected illness is different from buying a latte at Starbucks. Budgeted money for those things should not come from the same envelope. If you want, establish an emergency envelope and be very very careful about what you define as an “emergency”.
So if you could stand to reign in your spending habits (be it a little or a lot), join me on this quest to save some money! I’ll be posting about each step of my “Plan of Attack” soon. It’ll be fun! Kind of.