September 28, 2016

Financial Fitness

Today is a day for honesty. Not that other days aren’t, but this is one of those days where I’m going to get really real and just bare it all. 

I have money issues. 

I’m sure you’re thinking who doesn’t, right? And although I would agree with you, I’ll admit that mine are a constant struggle for me. 

No, I jest. It’s not about the world getting better. It’s because I want things I feel I deserve to have. Not an entitled deserve, of course, it’s more of a ‘treat yo’self’ kind of deserve. The thing is I end up nickel and diming myself. This book was only $3.99… this shirt was only $10. I only bought coffee for $2.50…. and before I know it I’ve spent close to $100 on nothing. This mis-allocation has never been more clear than it was last month. If you saw my confessions post then you know what I'm talking about. 

And while I am enjoying the shit out of my purchases, part of me feels irresponsible. Yes, it’s my money; no, I’m not missing bill payments, but I want more. I want to buy a condo. I want to leave the country once a year. I want_____. I’m old enough to realize that if I don’t spend wisely and safe that I’m going to find myself in financial trouble, similar to that which plagued my 20s. And that is NOT a chapter in life I ever care to revisit. 

So basically, all of that to say that I’ve pulled out my big girl pants, put my ducks in a row, and I’m ready to knock them down one at a time. Even since Stephanie introduced me to YNAB, I’ve been a huge fan. I’m still using it (which is how I know I’ve been off the rails) and it’s great for tracking expenses, but I’m ready for zero and I need something that will get me there. 

I had stumbled on Ready For Zero over the summer and signed up. After clicking around a bit and feeling it was like Mint, I deleted my account. This time around I actually read and paid attention to what I was reading. 

Rather than just looking at my balances and paying an extra $30 to each card (guilt) I now have a plan in place that will knock them out quickly, without hurting my budget.  It's similar to Dave Ramsay's snowball approach in that I pay off the card with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum on the others. Once that card is paid, I then move to the next highest rated card and then put all money that was going to the first card to the second.

Of course I've also put myself on a season no-spend, so that should help me out as well. No random shopping or spending until winter solstice is here.

I plan to check in through the end of the year to keep track of how I'm doing. Of course I'm always open to tips and tricks. So tell me, what do you do when it;s time to tighten the purse strings and pinch some pennies?


  1. oh my gosh, yes. first off, i am checking out this app. i need it too. i am the same with 'treating myself'. i had planned to shop on my trip with my mum, and i did, and everything was 'oh these shoes are $10!' 'this bag is 50% off' or whatever, and before you know it, i've spent like a million dollars. okay, not really, but it is insane. i have all these new clothes, bags and shoes, and while i really love them all.. i want to travel. i want to buy a new house. i want this or that, and i am slowing myself down. so yes. i am right there with you! being honest with yourself is so hard when it comes to money, i think. for me, right now, i am not shopping, at all (except for the trip with my mum) because i honestly don't want or need anything. but i look at my credit card debt spreadsheet to remind myself, i am not eating out for lunch but i eat out with KC for dinner sometimes, i delete and unsubscribe from all emails, i talk to people about purchases so that they can talk me out of them lol (normally just the thought of me bringing it up to someone is enough for me to change my mind). and i stay off websites - shopping websites like target or whatever, and etsy, and i also try and stay off pinterest or fashion blogs because they make me want to buy things.
    best of luck! you can do it!

  2. Good for you! Good luck sticking to the plan. I'm horrible at budgeting. Right now I'm just trying to not impulse shop, which is hard enough. I actually just started an audiobook (How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents) about finances and while the guy is super snarky, he has some good points. Right now he's talking about how credit cards are supposed to simplify our lives and give us some return on our purchases through rewards and so on BUT none of that comes even close to the psychological freedom we feel spending with plastic instead of cash and how much additional debt we take on. He's all about spending with cash instead and I've thought about this in the past. Would I spend less if I had to use cash and go to an actual physical store? Probably. But, but, but... Amazon!

  3. YAS. For the past 5-ish years I've been a bit of a money nerd, meaning I track my spending religiously and budget the crap out of every penny I earn. This doesn't mean I haven't have money problems though, because for the last year I have had a wildly unsteady income. I have an aggressive plan to save and pay off now, but it's also true that debt fatigue is a real thing. Being transparent and honest about what you're going through, celebrating small wins, and having a real PLAN help so much. David and I talk like once a week about my current status, he helps me find solutions I haven't thought of yet, and just knowing he's happy to cover dinner so I can make an extra payment this month or week is enough to keep me on track and in forward momentum. So my point in saying all that is YAS to posting about it and being on track!
    I will also recommend you take a look at Money After Graduation. Bridget knows her stuff and just following on twitter gives me something to say "YAS KWEEN" over every damn day. She also has a free debt crusher ecourse that I totally recommend, but even just reading her blog posts can light a fire under you like no other.
    Happy debt-crushing, my friend! Whenever you need a buddy for a frugal activity, you know you can count me in!

  4. I don't buy to buy, I buy things I really want/need. However, I'm in charge of one of our credit cards (my husband loves dealing with money and I don't), so I've come up with the strategy of paying every two weeks (not once a month) and paying what I spent. I'm carrying a little bit of a balance, but that's okay. I'm the worst at money but I know how quickly credit cards can snowball (i.e. why my husband is in charge of the money).

  5. Girlfriend you are not the only one with money issues that is for sure! We have them too! Good for you for getting your s*it together and owing it and getting on track with it! I have to re-eval when I got back to work after I have #babybigtruck2 and get ourselves back on track. The next few months are going to be all about survival! Remind me again what YNAB is please.

  6. ERRYONE has money issues at some point! so you're not alone. as much of a budgeter as I am, there are always unforseen this past summer i had to dole out nearly 3500 within a 2wk span because shit just decided to break down at once. thanks, Murphey's Law. So that left me a little panicky because I knew we also had a large credit card bill coming (we booked a shit ton of stuff for our vacation) which forced me to dip into our savings and i HATE doing that.

    but like you, i'm all for treat yoself so i only spend on the things we need, not want...the 'wants' are saved for things like christmas or birthday lists. i put away half our our pay into savings and frequently work on building our retirement/rrsp.

    to prevent spending frivolously, my strategy is this: if i really want something, i'll give myself a WEEK before buying. this gives me time to rationalize it (ie. do i need this? are there cheaper alternatives etc) and time to research for other/cheaper alternatives. most of the time, near the end of the week i'll forget about it and voila! no money spent :)

    i'm also a cheapass bitch so if i can make shit at home rather than buying it (soaps, food, coffee, knit stuff etc), then I do that.

  7. Good luck girl! I do the same thing. I don't ever really buy big things, but it's the little things that add up. Now more than ever is when I need a budget, but it's also when it's harder because I don't make a set amount like I did when I as teaching.

  8. Yay good luck! It sounds like it will be super helpful. I don't have any debt, which is why YNAB works for me, but do think YNAB would be harder to use when it comes to paying off debt. You got this though! Sucks that the little purchases add up so quickly, but it'll be worth it when you see the 0s.

  9. Love your honesty, Michelle. I think that is always the first real step to success. A lot of people (most people) have some money problems and are in denial. In denial over the actual problem and their role in creating the problem. Like you, I was terrible at frittering my money away on little things and justifying them because I worked hard, had a rough day, etc. And ultimately I had very little to show for all those "things" I bought.

    What helped me the most was turning to value-based spending, I set goals and ask myself when I'm putting something in my cart that I don't need, if it matters more than my goals. And most impulse buys never do. But I also want to enjoy life and find a money balance too, even when dealing with debt. When people get too rigid, especially those, like us, who were probably never very money strict with themselves in the first place, they can also rebel. So I always set aside a small amount for fun, guilt-free money that you use for that pair of shoes you love that are 75% off or joining a friend for an impromptu meal out. Good luck, Michelle! You can do this!

  10. I have to check out this app! I am working on paying down some of my debts, but some of them I don't even have all the needed information for. I really need to get better about that. I budget, and I'm good about it, but I need to improve on that too. I have some big necessary purchases coming up and I need to plan ahead for them! Plus I want to do a bit of traveling to conferences next year, so gotta plan for that too! :-)

    The thing I do - I meal plan (and prep). My weekly meal planning means that I go to the store with a list that has EVERYTHING I need on it for everything I'm making that week. And I must stick to the list. My weekly meal prep means that all the food gets prepared at once, so no food gets wasted in the "I'm tired I'm just gonna pick up a frozen pizza" kinda of way lol.