Let me give you some context here. I’m HORRIBLE with money management. I think it’s the one trait I picked up from my dad really well. You know what I mean. Some people are just great at not spending a dime and other people are amazing at spending lots of dimes. I’d have to say I’m in the middle, but if spending lots of dimes is to the right side of the bar, I’m a bit closer right than perfect middle ground.
Needless to say, I’ve spent a good portion of my 20’s racking up credit card debt. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes you have to face the problem in order to fix it. So there that goes. On my personal blog, I’ve talked a bit about debt, or rather made a promise each year that this will be the year I pay off debt. I have paid some debt down. But I have also racked up some more in the process. It’s a fine see-saw motion, people!
Either way, this year, I’ve created the mantra, “Is this worth more than X?” Now, the “X” in my case is part of my BIG adventure that’s coming up in a few months, but for you, it may be something else. Maybe a car? A home? A vacation? A new pair of shoes? A shirt, skirt or dress you’ve been eying? It could be anything really. In my case, it’s the chance to hone a skill.
Yesterday, after a productive day at the Hill taking photos, responding to emails, finishing up some designs, I decided to work on my February budget. I wrote down what I received, what I will receive in the coming weeks and then deducted my givens–credit card payments, rent, phone bill. I proceeded to write down in three columns, things I owed money on–doctor’s bill from the month before; things I need – bath and home products such as laundry detergent, conditioner, soap; and finally, things I want – albums off of itunes, to see a movie, etc. Clearly I had to tackle the stuff owed and the needs first. Those are the most important. Then I had to tackle, what of the things I want, do I absolutely must have.
Let me tell you, this is hard and for someone who lacks control when it comes to needing/wanting, it was tough. I can justify music as a need. I can do the same thing with books and movies. Hello, I’m expanding my horizon here! But I wrote these things down and decided what I needed and what I want and I’m not allowed to budge on this. Although, I should add that I did download the three albums that I wanted off of itunes. It’s gonna be a bit of a struggle this year and tunes will always brighten my life.
The important thing here is that I learned a lesson, I probably should have learned many moons ago. Need and want is different. I WANT “X” more than anything else. More than a different and exciting meal during restaurant week. Not so much more than new music, but definitely more than a new shirt. With that in mind, this morning, I wrote on several sticky notes “Is this work more than X? NO!!” I wrote one for each of my two bank accounts – personal and business- including debit cards and check books and I wrote one for all of my credit cards. Of course, it was a bit difficult when I went to use the MTA machine this afternoon–I had to take the sticky note off the card in order to use it, but that’s the point…each time I want to use my card, I want it to be a nuisance to remove the post-it. I want to be reminded that I’m probably not acting in the best interest of myself and my future. Most importantly, I want to teach myself that I do have self-control.
As that wonderful movie “Field of Dreams” stated, ‘If you build it, they will come.” If I build it, I will come.” Here is a photo of my notes…
Fun, eh? I hope whatever your “X” is, you have a way of building up for it. If you have any inspiring or fun ways to help save for your goal, share it. I’d love to know I’m not the only one with kooky thoughts on saving for a dream. Oh and if you need a bit more inspiration, or help, check out Daily Worth…such a great site of money management advice and tips. You can sign up and get daily tips. They’re extremely helpful.