Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Penny Saved is a Concept I Just Don't Understand

Okay two things. 1.) This is my 150th post. woot woot! I'm not really one for anniversaries, or significant numbers so I'm not going to do anything special for this particular post (even though I did make a super fun "100 things about me" list for my 100th post...but that was more so because I like excuses to talk about myself...and the 100th post seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that).

2.) Isn't it ironic that you have to spend money to get a book about personal finance? Okay maybe I'm misusing the word "irony" in this situation but regardless, it sucks that I have to spend even more money (that I don't necessarily have) to learn about how to not spend so much of it!

I have money issues, this is no secret, and for the past few months I have repeatedly complained to this blog, to friends and family, to co-workers, and to anyone that will listen really, about my financial troubles. But the truth of the matter is, I truly have nobody to blame but myself. I spend as if I can...and I totally can't. I love martini bars with the girls and expensive dinners on the weekends. I love driving in the Cabby as often and for as long as I possibly can, and don't think twice when I re-fill my gas tank twice, sometimes three times a week, with the $35 expensive fuel. I eat out 5 times a week for lunch, and occasionally even more than that on the weekends. I buy $250 pairs of jeans, and $200 high heeled shoes and I sadly spend even more than that on my hair every three months. I buy drinks for others when I'm out, go on Vacations that I can't afford, and don't think twice about losing the few dollars that I put through the wash on a daily basis. Yes, the word budget is definitley not one that is in my vocabulary and if I don't start making changes right now while I still can, I'm going to be in major trouble later in life.

Thankfully the only debt I have is one hefty student loan payment each month.

I don't really have a clue on where to start budgeting and that whole investing concept and 401K and blah blah...it frightens me really. But I KNOW that I need to start thinking about these things. I am 25 after all, not 15. SO, I'm starting things off with a trip to Barnes and Noble this evening to purchase some much needed guidance on how to begin my personal finance future and hopefully in the next few months, this blog will consist of POSITIVE money posts, as opposed to the traditional ramblings about how I can't afford the apartment of my dreams because I had to buy a new handbag last month instead =)


Sara said...

I only "know" you via reading Erin's blog (I'm a knottie), but I recommend hitting up the public library for financial guidance books. Then you aren't spending money to learn how to save money :)

I also always found it ironic that when you bounce a check (ahem... not that I know), they charge you a boatload of money. Hello! If I had the money to pay that, the check would not have bounced!

Christi said...

Ahhh yes, this would be money problem 4565 of mine...I forget about all the FREE resources out there =)

And I hear ya about the bounced checks. How annoying. Thanks for stopping by lady!!!

Farrah said...

You can rent DVD's at the library too! Unfortunately I usually take them back late and incur a late fee, but it's still cheaper than Blockbuster!

Okay, I recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s. I did think it was ironic to buy a finance book too. That's why I won't buy anything by Suze Orman -- she don't need anymore money!

If you don't already, put money in your 401K at work. If they match, and I bet HD does, you have to put in as much as they'll match. It's free money. You won't miss it! I didn't start putting money in a 401K until I was 28. D-U-M-B. I love getting my quarterly statements and seeing how much I earned that period.

If you would end up moving to Bay View, I can recommend a great place to get a haircut from the owner of a salon for 22 bucks!

P.S. Flip flops are on sale at Old Navy for $2 :o)

Elizabeth said...

I used to have a similar problem with spending money. Then I married a man who was a finance major and was all about budgets and tracking the money we spend. The idea of using a budget was totally foreign to me. But he started one for us and we follow it, while actually tracking every penny we spend. and I don't mind because as soon as I saw how much money I was wasting by going to Starbucks every day of the week, my habits changed very, very quickly.

Good luck to you. Habits are very hard to change, but I have a feeling you're going to do well with this one!

Christi said...

I really need to start spending more time at the library!!!! FREE books, FREE DVD's, seriously. I think this whole budgeting thing is going to be fun =)

I do put money into my 401K it is the one thing that makes me feel like I'm doing something smart with at least SOME of my money.

I'm all over that 22 dollar hair cut Farrah. I can't imagine what that would feel like!

I'm SO at Old Navy today!

Thanks for the support Elizabeth. I wish I could marry someone who could just do this stuff for me =)

Andre Robitaille said...

Since everyone is lopping on their advice/experience, why not me too?

Quicken. Best $70 I ever spent. Ever. I download all my transactions at least twice a month into Quicken, and it shows me what's been paid and what hasn't... what money is in my account now, and what will be when all the outstanding payments clear (I don't write checks anymore, btw). It'll also help keep track of all your assets and credit cards and whatever else. Makes tax time way easier too, because you have a year's worth of searchable data (school payments, gas to get to work, home office, etc.).

Beyond that, just use the snowball method. First, find a way to save up $500 or $1000 emergency money as fast as you can, then pretend you don't have it no matter what. It'll save you from late fees and juggling payments. Then, take the debt with the smallest balance and pay it off as fast as you can. Then take that same amount, plus the monthly payment you have freed up and apply it to the next smallest debt.

That's all I got. My girlfriend strong-armed me into getting a personal loan to wrap up most of my debt (7%), and it's saved me more than anything. I haven't had a late payment since.

Good luck.

Christi said...

Brilliant Andre. Seriously, that's more great advice than Suze Orman could have ever charged me to get!!! I'll try it =) Although besides my student loans, I don't have any debt. NONE! No credit cards, no rent payments, no car payments...just a very slim bank account from spending a ridiculous amount of money on stupid things =)

Mentle said...

Make one change a week.
Week one: Pack lunches. Let South Beach frozen dinners be your friend if you're lazy (like me) about getting up early to make a lunch.
Week two: Use "one less" as your motto for the week. Cut out one extra shot of expresso in your latte, that second martini, and the other shade of lip gloss from Benefit that you're dying to get.
Week three: Make a cheap or free date. Go for a walk, visit the library (hey, you can check out the latest InStyle and Cosmo there), or find a group that's performing in a local park at no charge.
Week four: Ebay/Platos Closet. What do you have, of some value, that you can part with? If you're not wearing the jeans, they're not worth $200, they're worth $0. Why not make $20 off them? Even just purging your closet of some things you don't need and donating them will make you feel refreshed.
Week five: Go plasic free. Put $50 in your wallet and besides groceries, don't use your CC. You can only spend what you have.
Week six: Rediscover cheap. Old Navy, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart. When you feel like shopping, take a stroll through somewhere where you can't spend money on big ticket items. Of course, avoid the Wal-Mart electronic section.

I'm full of tips because I'm pretty much the cheapest person I know ;-)

Andre said...

Mentle had a really good one. Pack lunches and make your own coffee. I save a fortune when I'm lucky enough to have my girlfriend, Susan, baby me that way.

I never realized I was literally spending $100/mo on daily coffees. Unreal.

What ever happened to the pictures from your trip? Are they up yet?

Christi said...

All of y'all (sorry, I'm writing from Tennessee) rock with your spending tips. i'm seriously writing them all down!!!!

And Andre, I am SO sorry I have completely forgotten about my utah pictures. I'll post them as soon as I get back!!!!

KarenC said...

I've been seriously cutting back on spending and have discovered that there are a ton of things to do for free! Or just find rich friends to mooch off of. But I wouldn't recommend that. A couple things I do to save money, I cook more and share meals with my roommate and my boyfriend. I have my friend cut my hair and I cut my boyfriend’s. I walk places. I pick-up every penny I find on the street, this is because I went with my boyfriend to a coin counting machine and he ended up with over $150 in change. Damn. That was the last time I’d kick a penny instead of pick it up. But really, there are a TON of free things to do, even entertainment, you just have to look around and be creative I guess. :)