The last you heard from me, I was putting together a real-person budget! This was my first plunge into the world of budgeting, so I didn’t know what to expect: I could end up way under my thresholds (optimistic) or way over them (pessimistic, bordering on realistic),
I’m happy to report that, for the month of February, I kept my income above my total expenses—and actually saved some serious money. Woohoo! That being said, this “success” still showed me a few areas for improvement.
In some areas, I broke budget, and in others, I stayed under. I quickly discovered that although the amount I was spending was on point, I needed to reexamine the things I spent my money on.
Below are the three non-money-savvy tendencies I discovered. I’m guessing a lot of my fellow young professionals face these as well. If you do, check out how I’m proposing we fix them.
1. I Eat Out A LOT
My budget taught me that I eat out way too much. How much is too much? Try going nearly $100 over what I allocated for the category!
I also noticed that my grocery spend was under what I budgeted, despite my advocacy for buying lots of them. Apparently, my definition of “lots” was a little subpar when it came down to the numbers.
So, the solution here seems easy. For the month of March, I’ll grocery shop more. By having more food in the house, I’ll hopefully bring my eating-out spend down—and prevent this budget line from skyrocketing even more.
2. My “Fun” Is Expensive
I have a category in my budget aptly (though perhaps a bit unclearly) titled “fun.” This covers expenses that are literally, well, anything I consider “fun”: club covers, the occasional six-pack, concert tickets, etc.
I discovered that I have too much “fun”—it’s great for my social life, but not for my wallet. This might seem like an easy solution too: just don’t go out so often! Honestly, though, who wants to hear that in their 20s?
Rather than go out less, I’m going to try and trade paid fun for free fun: less time in the bars and more time at house parties and on the couch for movie nights. Hopefully, these will help me save without being boring.
3. I’m A Sucker For Clothing Deals
Every day, my email inbox explodes with offers from clothes stores like Express and American Eagle, as well as commerce sites like Jackthreads and Rue La La. When I was a broke student, I was great at instantly chucking these into my “deleted” folder. Now that I actually have income, those emails are a lot more tempting to open.
So tempting, in fact, that I have a spend category for “clothes” on my budget. I allocated a considerable amount (over $100) and still went over it in February. This is something that needs to end quickly.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself from time to time. However, there’s a point when treats become indulgences, and for me, I think it happens way below $100. My goal for March isn’t to shrink this part of the budget, but to cut it out entirely.
My new motto for March? #NoNewClothes.
Have you dealt with one of these budget busters? Let us know how you overcame it.
(Photo: Planet Takeout)