Bringing Home the Bacon

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)

NYC vs Santa Monica

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.

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20 thoughts on “Bringing Home the Bacon

  1. I’m one of the biggest impulse shoppers ever. I’m typically pretty frugal, except when I want something, I WANT IT. I’ve tried using the Mint app to set a budget and track where my money goes, except I think a monthly basis is a little too long for me to really keep track. I want to find an app where I can see a weekly breakdown, too… maybe I’ll just go the old-fashioned way and do it in Excel. Either way, I have to figure out how this whole budgeting thing works sometime in the near future…

    • Impulse to the max. Um, don’t let me near Target…thank goodness there isn’t one here. Yeah I set up Mint but that really means I have to be on it all the time to watch what I’m spending. I’ve just gotten better at thinking through the process as if it’s a diet. Do I want to eat that or wait for ice cream. hahaha

  2. Oh good, it’s not just me!
    I just recently went from being a grad student (loans coming in = LOTS of extra cash) to working two PT jobs (making not a lot of money + those loans being due = :0( ) so I definitely needed a kick in the pants to get a budget for myself. Thanks for being that kick! :0D

  3. I need this so badly. I don’t drink coffee out, but boy do I like my socializing and drinking (not eating out). That’s awesome that you have a work-subsidized salad bar. My salads are so simple – it’s chicken and lettuce and lime squeezed over it but only because I lack imagination.

    • I think everyone has their own little favorite things and boy do they add up! I was amazed that I could keep track of everything so well in Barcelona. That salad doesn’t sound too bad 😉 Mine is getting out of hand with all the variety we have here. Although, I don’t mind because it’s delish!

  4. I am trying to budget, too. It’s tough. I am super surprised that Santa Monica is more expensive than NYC… especially by 36%! WOAH!

    I don’t eat out often, so that’s not a biggie for me. Same goes with drinking… if I am eating out, I normally offer to be the DD because drinking just isn’t a priority to me. On occasion I will, but if I am going to drink I would much rather it be on a beach or by a pool. 🙂

    Really watching my grocery budget and spend has been really helpful. My boyfriend and I set aside a certain amount every two weeks (because some weeks are restocking weeks) and really aim to stay within that. So far, just being conscious helps cut out the impulse buys. Plus, it’s like a challenge. 🙂

    I recently spent a little too much money on my Temecula trip (more than I was anticipating)… but you know what?! Travel and adventure is worth it! Memories last forever. 🙂

    Good luck!

    • Everyone says that NYC is expensive but I guess i forget sometimes. My dad came into town for dinner and made the comment and I figured I had just accepted it as normal!

      That’s a really good way to save money – DD. I don’t see it as the biggest thing either so I could do that when I move back to California. I would say groceries are where it gets out of hand for me too! But in the end like you said, memories 🙂

  5. Good ideas girl! I’m an awful impulse shopper, too, especially at Target, and when someone tells me about a race they’re doing and invites me along, I can rarely say no. Thankfully we don’t have too many living expenses right now, but our goal is still to save as much as we can over the next few months so we are in good shape come November if we have to move. Fingers crossed I can resist the urge to run anymore races 😛

  6. Haha this is the perfect post for me today!! What a coincidence we posted about kinda similar things on the same day, further proof we were meant to be friends (speakin if which I’m checkin my extensively booked calendar, kiddin, and I’ll get back to your email soon!!)

    • I so noticed a difference when I lived at home! But I’m learning to pick some of the cheaper groceries or toilet paper 😉 That’s the true sign of an adult – when you can afford good toilet paper.

  7. Oh girl, you are so right! As much as I’m not an impulse buyer, I will still want something for a month then finally buy it. With graduate school coming up, I won’t be able to work as much so I have to get my act together and budget/save! It can be done…it just stinks! I want to run allll the races!

    • I’m terrible at setting my sight on something and not stopping until I get it. Ok, that’s actually a good quality unless it’s a Kate Spade purse…then we have a problem

  8. Oh the joys of being in the real world. I am trying to enjoy these last few years in school before I enter the real world! I have such a shopping problem!! Hopefully I learn how to budget soon.. I think I have $1.65 in my bank account right now.. oops.

    • Goodness I used to (and still do) milk the time I spent at home. My sister jokes that all the groceries are suddenly gone when I leave because I’ve taken them to school or NY with me 🙂

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