Boy I wish that was the case. In these slow spring and soon-to-be summer days, I have no motivation to work over-time, which in my case, tends to be where the big bucks come in. Without these extra hours, I need to start watching where my spending habits take me. Sure, I probably should have started budgeting the minute I landed in New York, or even practiced during those years of college. But I didn’t and now I’m here.
Like most budgets, it starts with looking at your previous spending habits. I have to go back and think about an over/under number from month to month in terms of groceries, eating out, and other social activities. I also need to really think about the amount I’ve spent on clothes, shoes, bags, and races. This is what I call the black hole.
Next step is to break the budget into categories. This is a roundabout idea of what I have so far:
- Gym $74.99
- Aereo (my excuse for television) $8.99
- Rent (surprisingly not as expensive as Santa Monica, CA)
- $100 to put in saving each month – If I don’t get around to it one month, I double up the next month
- Entertainment/Etc ~$40-$100 (fluctuates all the time and being NYC can end up on the pricey side)
Things you might want to consider (which this newbie didn’t)
- Taxes (ah and those taxes if you live in two places…note California and then NYC)
- Utilities (even though they are included for the most part in our rent, we do have some monthly surprises)
- Spur of the moment social activities or apparel
Some ways to cut costs?
- Stop buying coffee/juice/treats (ooph, maybe let’s work our way down … make it an iced coffee once a week … then only through gift cards)
- Don’t eat out during lunch – Tough one when it has become a social event but thankfully my coworkers are getting budget conscious as well. (I still need to figure out if buying all the ingredients to make a yummy salad is less expensive than work’s subsidized salad bar)
- Stick to your grocery list! (Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t been lured into the ice cream aisle or fresh produce section or pretty much any section at Trader Joe’s?)
- Ignore the telemarketers or people on the street (Even though you don’t contribute to a nature foundation every day doesn’t mean you don’t love your earth…you can factor this into your budget when it fits your schedule, not when you feel frazzled after a day of work and are en-route to the gym)
- Delete those shopping emails – Out of sight = out of mind (I love Kate Spade just as much as the next person but those flash sales will NOT help your pocket book.)
- Add a roommate (This summer I’ll get to share my room with a sorority sister and hopefully bring down the cost a bit. Then the question will be to save or to spend? Just kidding…I know it’s to save – duh, the whole point of this post)
- Reel in the drinks – $15 for a small class of some watered down alcohol? Yeah no. (Not too tough for me since I’m not the biggest drinker. Sometimes tough in the city where everyone expects young adults to be raging the night away.)
- Look for discounts/incentive programs through work – Some companies offer to cover transportation (thank goodness for that!) or even have codes for discounted tickets, clothes, flowers, or travel packages.
- Never Purchase on Impulse – I’m pretty sure I could give myself the nickname, Miss Impulse. No matter what my parents are telling me to “slow down” and of course as I look back at all the mistake purchases, they were done on a whim.
Fingers crossed I’ll get around to making a budget for next month. Also, for more budgeting tips, check out my new blend Katie’s posts here.