Let’s Talk Finances

- Lifestyle

Money Talk

WHOA. A little overwhelming on a Friday? A little overwhelming on my self-proclaimed fashion and personal style blog? Sorry, but lately I have been freaking out about finances, regardless of my attempts to stay on budget (and this isn’t just relating to my May shopping budget) and I thought maybe some of you feel the same way or could offer me some advice/perspective.

It is also something I want to talk about because I feel like it will always be on my mind and something a lot of people stress about. Yet we all seem to hide it and don’t want to talk about it. It’s almost as if you are stressed about money you must not be successful or making enough of it. Sometimes that’s how I feel at least, even though I know it’s not true.

So here I am, with a good solid job with great benefits, living no sort of a luxury life (okay maybe a few extra shoe purchases than necessary and a wild trip to Vegas every once in awhile), but truly I don’t live an extravagant life.  By no means am I making what I hope to someday in my ideal career (whatever that ends up being), but I am where I feel I should be, and yet sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up with it all.

It makes me wonder… does anyone else worry about this as much as I do? I hate being a worrier, hate it, but I can’t help it. One day I’m making us boxed rice and tearing up pieces of deli ham because I don’t want to spend more money on food and the next day we are going out with friends for happy hour and buying an appetizer, two meals and DRINKS (emphasis on the drinks for how expensive they are when you go out). I’m not saying I don’t make room for fun in my budget, but I just seem to go to the two extremes (MUST SAVE MONEY NOW AND NEVER HAVE FUN or YOLO).  Just another part of life where I am trying to find that happy medium!

For the most part I’ve met my budgeting goals this year, but more and more things keep coming up. Last night we looked a new car, oh wait, we looked at and financed a new car! No buyer’s remorse, adding another monthly payment scares me a little bit…. okay a lot.  And to think I was at one point I was trying to look at houses…

In one month I am paying for or contributing to:

  • Internet/Cable
  • Phone
  • Electric/Gas for the Apartment
  • Rent
  • Groceries
  • Gas

Oh and then all those weddings we are going to this summer. YAY so excited, Really I am… but the gas money, hotel money, gift money…? All I see is $$$$$$$$$$$$$.

This is in NO way a complaining post, I am happy with life and I just want to continue to improve my budgeting. And I’m curious about everyone else’s thoughts on money, finances, saving, budgeting, etc. Do you feel it is hard to keep up with everything financially? What advice do you have for someone looking at a new car, thinking about a house in the next couple years? What can I cut back on? One idea is to put away a certain amount for bills in a separate checking account. Perhaps if I do this then I will really take a second guess about whether or not I need another pair of heels when I don’t see all that bill money combined with my fun/shopping money. What do you think?!

I have read a lot of great advice from Molly and used the Everygirl Budget Handbook, but I’m always trying to find what works best for me, so please share if you have advice!

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachelle
    May 31, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    My goal just like Molly is to be debt free, my main debt right now is my car. And of course I cannot just pay it off. My second goal is to have enough funds that if I lose my job I can afford to live off my savings for like 6 months. I am really focus on this goal. And after doing a 40 days no shopping challenge for Lent I started one where I can only shop every other month. And I always try to have a second source of income, mine is my jewelry store. And know that life happens, sometimes you will have big unexpected expenses that just come up, just take a deep breath, don’t panic and just make a few adjustments here and there. To me money is like having good eating habits, if you keep yourself busy and occupied you tend to eat less junk and shop less.

    xo
    http://pinksole.com

    • Reply
      Rachel
      May 31, 2013 at 7:24 AM

      Rachelle I absolutely LOVE that comparison. It really is hard for me not to shop, but I also try to find good deals. Regardless, I want to try to give up shopping this summer if possible. With all the weddings I have coming up and new car payments, I really want to save as much on shopping as possible!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    May 31, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    I think a lot of us 20-somethings go through this. I graduated college with SO much debt/student loans, that I physically could not do anything but live at home in order to pay my loans with like $100 left over each month. It sucked. But I’ve been saving up, got a promotion a year into my job and started making some money from my blog. So I’m SO glad I was penny-pinching because now I have enough saved to pay for an apartment when I finally move (hopefully soon!)

    For me, I don’t buy things I don’t need. I go shopping only when I need to (I know, it sounds crazy!) not every weekend like a lot of fashion bloggers do 😛 I rarely go out to eat since it’s so expensive (unless James is paying!) and I always try to limit my drinks when I go out (the perks of being a lightweight!).

    And my #1 money saving trick is that my paychecks go right into my bank account and debit card. I hate using my card to spend money because I know that’s bad, so I basically only pay for things in cash. Which means if I don’t have cash on me, I’m not likely to spend any money! It sounds weird, but it works for me! :)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      May 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM

      That’s really awesome that you only shop when you need to! I tried to create a reasonable budget, where I could still meet my budgeting goals while allowing a certain amount for fun spending money because I LOVE to shop. But at the end of the day, sometimes that isn’t helping me. I really don’t NEED anything right now, so I might try to put a halt on shopping this summer… hopefully 😉 And that’s great with the cash! My boyfriend is the same way, if he uses cash he doesn’t spend it as easily. It is so weird but I am the exact opposite. If I have cash I guess I think it is already out of my account, so I spend it easier than using my card. When I use my card (I usually only use my debit card… credit for gas & groceries because I get some perks on that), I think about that amount coming out of my checking so I actually don’t use it as easily as I would cash. But I still use it too easily sometimes :(

  • Reply
    Chelsea
    May 31, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Giiiiiiiirrrrllllll. I JUST texted my sister and said “Budgets are so. Insanely. Stressful. I feel like a bad person for being hungry.” I am LITERALLY exactly where you are at right now (MUST SAVE MONEY NOW AND NEVER HAVE FUN or YOLO made me die laughing but is exactly what I feel like!) I TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY feel like if I’m on a budget or stressing about money, other people think that I’m not successful or don’t have my life together or don’t make a big enough paycheck. Regarding shopping, I always say it’s harder for us bloggers because we DOCUMENT everything we wear and so we always need something new, lest people remember what we wore! The horror. *eye roll* I’m so glad you posted this…honestly even knowing that my friends feel the same way I do makes me a little more motivated to stay on my budget. Le sigh. Budgeting is crazy stressful, but in the long run, I suppose it’s better not to stress about MONEY! xoxo

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      Hahaha, yes that’s seriously how I feel sometimes! It can be hard to balance the fun and the budgeting! And yes, it is hard as a blogger not only because I don’t want to wear the same outfit on my blog every day, but because I am so inspired by so many others it makes it hard to not go out and buy everything they have too! Anyway, it is stressful, but I know it will be worth it in the end! Keep at it girl! :) :) :) We can help encourage each other to do well, but splurge every once in awhile on Starbucks and a new pair of shoes :)

  • Reply
    Megan
    May 31, 2013 at 7:44 AM

    My husband and I started our marriage with a lot of credit card debt. After two moves (across the country!) and our wedding, we were not in good shape. We’ve since closed our credit cards and consolidated our payments through a company, and I’ve never felt more adult or relieved in my life! I finally feel like we’re on top of our debt, not swimming under it. We’re still nowhere close to debt-free,but we’re getting there. Money is a constant thought in my head, and while I still try to live my life and enjoy the things I like, I think it’s important to know your limits/budgets and keep track. I hear ya about the summer weddings…. I see lots of $$$$ when I RSVP ‘yes’…. but I know I’d regret not going more than I would going.

    Have a great weekend :) Thanks for prompting a good discussion!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      Megan, thank you SO much for sharing your personal experience. It is nice to know I’m not the only one who worries and I think it is a good discussion to have, to help each other keep at it because it can be challenging. Taking on this new debt with the car is scary, but I also have to look at it as an investment! It should last us longer than how long it takes to pay off with the warranty we extended, so that makes me feel a little better. And although weddings are a lot of $$$$$ they are also so fun, so totally worth it to reunite with friends and just have an awesome time.
      I wish you and your husband all the luck in working towards a debt free life! Hope you have a great weekend too!

  • Reply
    Fran
    May 31, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    I think it’s a bit hard sometimes being in like an entry level job (like I am, I’m not sure where you are in your company!) but I live paycheck to paycheck. I get about a $900 paycheck every 2 weeks. My rent is $500, my car payment is $300, and my bills (phone, tv, internet, insurance, gym) total around another $300. Plus I put $100 from every paycheck into savings (or at least I started to in February) for my 6 weeks of no work/no student loan money. And then there’s groceries. and then there is no money left. So it really comes down to the wire for me every week basically, especially when you throw in $100 vet visits, or having to pay for bachelorette parties. On top of that, because I was already pay check to paycheck, I had to use credit cards to pay for all of my medical school application fees….$4000 worth. So I’m sitting on that too, and trying to pay it off because it’s quite the mountain to climb. Luckily I’m making a bit of money now from blogging so that I can put more into savings/pay off my debt, BUT REALLY, IT’S HARD. And I promise you we’re all in the same situation.

    man, sorry about the complaining dump, it’s just something thats on my mind all the time!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      Fran, it wasn’t a complaining dump at all! It is just life and it is stressful… money is SO stressful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and what you go through. I was living fairly comfortably before this year, but I decided to challenge myself to build up my savings because I blew threw some of the money when I moved in with my boyfriend a couple years ago. We literally had nothing except his mattress. We needed a couch, dining room table, desk, kitchen supplies, etc. And of course, I was like OH YAY I have to buy a ton of decor, which I now look back and think that was dumb. Ugh. So now I’m living pay check to pay check because of my goals for my savings account. I put a certain amount towards it each month and leave just enough to pay bills, have a $100 or so clothing budget and go out a couple times. With unexpected costs… car maintenance, vet bills, tabs, weddings etc. it has been really hard :( I’m so glad to know we are all in the same situation though, you know?! It makes me feel like I’m not just failing with my life and how I balance my finances.

      Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience! All of your hard work now will pay off once you are done with med school and making the BIG $$$$$$$ :) :) :)

  • Reply
    Kodi
    May 31, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    My husband went to grad school so we absolutely know what debt feels like and have our share of money concerns — but I think what allows us to breathe (mostly) easy is making sure our savings(both now and retirement) are solid. Meaning if we both lost our jobs, we could live as we are now for a good six months. And we DO enjoy our lives — we’re lucky to live somewhere where the cost of living is pretty low. We take the occasional weekend trip, we go out to dinner, I expand my closet, my husband expands his movie collection. We use Groupon and Living Social, I’ve got coupons in my purse all the time and I love the sale section, but we do buy things/go places that make us happy. And when one of his good friends from states away is getting married he or both of us is on a plane because it’s important to us to be there. But even though we want a house, even though many of our friends are buying houses while sharing with us that their financial situations are already more precarious than ours, we’re not looking yet. Because add a house payment and responsibility to fix anything that goes wrong in a house and we wouldn’t be breathing easy. I think that’s the most important part — everyone’s comfort level is somewhere different — you just have to find where yours is and try to keep your finances there!

    Way to go outside of the box on a post and get a conversation started! :)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Grad school is tough! My sister just got done and has a lot of student loans to pay off. I think that’s a good idea to have enough to be okay for six months if you were to lose your job… I THINK I would be okay if that happened, but it never hurts to have more in savings. That’s my main goal right now is to build that back up, but it has been hard for me when I’ve been so out of the habit of doing so. We always talk about using more coupons, so that’s a good idea! Especially if we want to go out to eat, why not go on Groupon or Living Social and find one where we can get the same amount for half the cost! But we also still like to go to our favorite places, which can get pricey! We have been trying to be better about cooking to save money (and in the long run for us calories, I am horrible about what I order when we go out to eat). Anyway, we love the idea of the house, but aside from the down payment and mortgage, that unexpected cost and risk of what if we have to fix something… I know we just aren’t ready for that right now.

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I am so glad that people were open to talking about this subject, I was a little nervous to post this, but I just felt the need to. It just felt good to write and get off my chest!

  • Reply
    Marina Gooding
    May 31, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    This is something I was struggling with for last two weeks now that I have to fully pay off my college debt some 12 years later. I wasnt planning well when I was 21 years old clearly and didn't fully grasp the amount of money I was going to owe when it was all said and done. Not to mention the little things that come up like medical expenses, or getting your car worked on, eating clean ( WHY MUST BEING HEALTHY COST SO MUCH), and then the little things that us girls want, like our hair done, our toes summer ready, new stuff at target every week. It adds up so fast and soon your spinning out of control in your head and you cant get caught up. I really need help budgeting and understanding. I feel like I live way beyond my means sometimes.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Marina,

      YES to all of those things that comes up…. and eating healthy IT IS SO EXPENSIVE. I am interested in clean eating, but right now I am just trying to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables to include with all of our meals. BUT HOLY COW it adds up so fast! And yes, getting my hair done is expensive, just wanting to get a manicure and wow, it adds up SO fast. I was living beyond my means last year at this time, and it was stupid. It was for a bunch of things that didn’t mean anything or that I don’t wear very often. I blew threw some of my savings and now I am trying to get back to where I was and build it up even more. It is hard, but I think it is worth it to think about what you make each month and how much is going to each part of our lives. Obviously we have our set bills each month, but for example, I started budgeting more towards groceries and less towards clothes and other things because I want to make sure we are eating well! Thank you so much for your comment and good luck with budgeting!

  • Reply
    Bethie the Boo
    May 31, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Such a hard topic for sure! And one I’m really starting to pay attention to now that I have a little one on the way. It’s sooooo hard to cut back, but sometimes necessary!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      YAY! Congrats again Beth!!!!! That is so exciting :) But I’m sure there will be a lot of money and budgeting involved around a little one. Having children scares me for that reason, how do people afford it plus all the things I’m trying to keep up with now! Thanks for your comment.

  • Reply
    two birds
    May 31, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    great post…i don’t know what to say. i know that meal planning, and sticking to it has always helped us. we are always the people who buy everything that looks good at the grocery store. but i found that by making a list really helps. also, we have a lot of date nights in to save money…just as fun and way cheaper!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      So for the first time last night my boyfriend said NO to meeting up with friends for drinks and dinner. I was so proud, not because we don’t love going out to eat and getting drinks on a Friday night, but with the car now we have to be more aware of where our money goes, especially towards eating. I am ashamed to say at one point we were spending close to $400 a MONTH on eating out/happy hours. Isn’t that awful? SO AWFUL. I started using eMeals a few weeks ago… I think it was like $20 or something for a month of planned meals and a grocery list. I don’t think about it and every night I come home and make the meal. IT has saved us a lot on groceries and going out to eat!

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    May 31, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Honestly, taking time to work and live at home after college (even if it was waitressing) was a GOD SEND. I made so much money, that when the time came to get a job in magazines and move to NYC, I didn’t think twice. I’ve gotten into a pretty solid groove with paying rent, utilities, travel, food, etc. but it’s definitely tough and takes a lot of effort. There are some days when I look at my bank account and sort of want to cry, but remembering that I’m 23 and completely financially dependent makes me really proud.

    My probably really comes from my job–there’s a certain image and lifestyle that comes with being a magazine editor, and it can be hard to maintain that on a minimal budget (think “keeping up with the Joneses” if the Joneses were really fashionable and fabulous). I’ve learned to let that go a bit more, and put money into savings for things I really want–like a puppy and trip!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      I bet that even though it might have not been your ideal situation after college, it really was helpful to save up right away! I was working part time at a job I had my senior year of college until I found a full-time job in Minneapolis. I had a good savings, thanks to my parents who took care of everything for me in college, I AM SO THANKFUL for this, but once I moved all the expenses started adding up quickly. I should have been more proactive about a budget then, but I wasn’t, so now i’m making up for it at 25. It kind of sucks, but I am financially independent and doing just fine, so that is something to be proud of, thank you for making that point!

      Sounds like you are doing awesome, and what a sweet job to have! But I can understand the pressure you must have to “fit” that title with keeping up with everything fashionable and “in”… so good for you! Puppies and trips are WAY better than those things in my mind anyway :) Which is why I was so excited when I was able to get a puppy last year and take a trip this year with my boyfriend!

  • Reply
    ash
    May 31, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    That’s why I am starting a second job next week. At my job I make what I need to, but the “extras” the “fun” stuff is few and far between. I want to have some fun stuff too! So with the income from a second job we’ll be saving and creating our own “of s***) fund for a rainy day, plus have a bit to take that occasional trip, etc. I’m looking forward to it but it’s going to be a lot of work. I’m looking forward to it though. I think if you aren’t concerned about money you aren’t normal! It’s good to know even the most fabulous of bloggers have the same worries as I do :)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      That’s awesome Ash! :) I have actually thought about starting a second job… at Caribou or a clothing store I like just to make some extra money, meet some new people and have that money exclusively to spend on fun things and let my main job cover all the “boring stuff” :) Thanks for your comments! And I agree, it is nice to know that others are concerned like me and are trying to make it all work!

  • Reply
    Jacy
    June 2, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    Rachel, I’m so glad you brought this conversation up! It’s always great to read some honesty and to get actual insight into a fellow blogger’s life. It’s so easy as a blogger to make life appear perfect and glamorous, you know?
    I just graduated in mid-May and thankfully scored a full-time job in advertising the next week! Most of my friends within our major are doing internships, so I’m so blessed to have the stability and paycheck of a full-time job right after graduation and at the place I wanted to be all along. That being said, I’m Definitely earning an entry-level salary. It’s pretty darn low. BUT, I was lucky enough to get a job in my hometown so for now I’m living with my parents. Perfect situation? No…but So worth the savings I know I’ll be able to put away. Long story short… I haven’t had a ton of financial responsibility yet, when I start my job here in a few weeks I’m going to set up a budget and savings plan to really take advantage of living at home. My boyfriend also got the job he wanted but is also not making that much money yet so he’s also living at home to start paying off student loans. By the time we get married we want to both be set in our incomes so that he can be steadily paying off student loans and so that with our salaries combined we’ll be able to start saving to buy a house within a couple years of getting married. I don’t know a ton about finances but it’s something that’s really important to me and I want us to always have a good grip on it so it’s not an issue that can ever come between us. For now I’m just hoping my car holds up so I won’t have that unexpected cost. Clothing wise, I want to start buying some nicer clothing now that I’m out of college and in the work force, but I also don’t want to blow my paychecks on clothes just because I don’t have a rent payment right now. This is extremely hard for me though because I love fashion to begin with but being a blogger increasingly makes me want/feel like I need More. This isn’t a healthy mindset At All, but it’s one I catch myself in frequently when perusing the blog world. I think I’m going to make sure I curb any spontaneous, walking around the mall purchases and really try to keep it to things I need or that I think would really go far with my existing wardrobe.
    The only advice I have at this point is that I’ve heard amazing things about a course called “Financial Peace.” I’ve never heard a single bad thing – only raving reviews. I know it’s a class you can take but I think it’s also in book and maybe DVD form. I think it teaches you how to budget and save, but also not to stress about money. I don’t know a ton more but it’s something I plan on going through before getting married!
    Again, love that you brought this up! Try not to stress :) I can tell you work hard and I know it will pay off for you!

  • Reply
    Always Maylee
    June 2, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    What a great post Rachel! It’s important to be on top of your finances. Being aware of your spending is a great thing and having some sort of budget to stick to. I’ve always paid off my credit cards, never letting it rack up… it was something my mom taught me at a young age and it definitely paid off when we went to buy a house a couple years ago. As long as you don’t do any excessive spending, you’ll be ok! :)

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  • Reply
    Ashley
    June 2, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Oy, I feel you, girl. I went a bit over budget this past month (cute shoes, oops) and have so many events on the calendar for June that require cashhhhh (baby showers, bridal showers, actual weddings, my oh my).

    We’ll get back on track though, won’t we? I’m sure we can do it. :)

    -Ashley
    http://lestylorouge.com

  • Reply
    Sue
    June 2, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    This is definitely something I’ve found myself struggling with now that I’m working and responsible for, well, everything (even if that’s only for the summer, it’s still terrifying and stressful and yeah). My mom’s a big proponent of the separate savings account for non-spending money, which is what I’m trying right now. I think that seems like it ought to work – separate locations for certain amounts of your money. Good luck!

    xo
    Sue

  • Reply
    Racheal @ Running with Racheal
    June 3, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Hi – popping over from Ashley’s blog. I would strongly encourage you to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University! It is life-changing and will help you to never worry about money again. My husband and I took it a few months ago – and we are on our way to becoming debt free. My review of the class is here: http://www.runningwithracheal.com/2012/11/financial-peace-university-review-what.html

    Good luck!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      June 3, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Thank you Racheal! I will definitely have to check this out. Honestly, money is that one thing that is ALWAYS on the back of my mind and I think is the only thing keeping me from being 100% truly happy. I would be very interested in this!

  • Reply
    Ginny
    June 3, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Before I was married I easily spent $500 a month on clothes, eating out, entertain ain’t, etc, now my budget is like a fifth of that. My husband is a biiiiigggg saver and I’m very thankful for that, however it was definitely an adjustment. We each get a certain amount an month to spend as we wish with the majority of our money going into savings. Because I this I now only get things on sale and do a lot of thrifting. I know that saving now will make things much easier later on. I definitely recommend transferring a certain amount each month into savings, even if it’s there for trips or gifts, it won’t make you stress on a monthly basis and hopefully makes things a little easier.
    Ginny

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Tulle and Trinkets
    June 5, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    My husband and I just bought a house back in March, and it was definitely stressful saving up the money we needed for that! We started setting aside cash for a down payment a couple years in advance. We cut things like drinks with dinner (can’t say no to free water! haha) and I definitely trimmed how much I spend on clothes by thrift shopping and realizing that I don’t *need* everything I want. Also, cutting out cable is hard, but it saves SO much money! For the house, besides having a good amount of cash for a down-payment, you’ll want to make sure you both have good credit and have tackled as much of your debt (if you have any) as you can.

  • Reply
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