I still pay for things with spare change, though.

13 May

I really like the idea of being one of those people who monitors where every dime goes; one of those Good With Money people. Those people balance checkbooks and save receipts. Those people know stuff about interest rates and ING accounts. Those people own accordion folders.

I am very much NOT one of those people. I have handfuls of random receipts balled up in the bottom of purses and in coat pockets. I check my bank balance online before going out to see how much money is left. I lost the cover and register part of my checkbook eons ago, and now just keep one raggedy book of checks on my entry table to write my one check a month to my property management company, who apparently hasn’t heard of this thing called “online payments”.  And despite being a relatively responsible, smart person, budgeting and spending my money wisely has never been my strong suit. In fact, my spending habits are less Grown Up Person and more Crackhead Who Found a Wallet Lying on the Street.

For those who are visual learners, I give you this:

But after seeing a large portion of other people my age able to do things like go on nice vacations or, I don’t know, buy a house, I realized it was time for the big B: a budget (#18).

I find budgets depressing. Seeing how little money I actually make on paper and how quickly it disappears make me want to drink. And then add that into “expenses”.  And I always seem to forget something important like insurance or medical costs or food. But you know what else is depressing? Being broke all the time.

I’ve been using Mint.com to help me out, which makes things a bit easier. Rather than having to make a spreadsheet or keep a written log, all you have to do is enter in your bank information, set up your budget amounts, and it tracks all of your transitions for you, using nice, pretty graphics to tell you that you have no money. It will also send out emails when you’re over-budget, which can be a nice heads up but also a real nag (“Yes, I KNOW I’m over-budget for Alcohol and Bars for this month. THANKS MOM.”)

I’m hoping that all this fiscal responsibility will spill over into other aspects, so I can start saving money (#19) and finally pay off that one credit card that has been dragging me down forever (#16). It’s all very grown up and very…boring. It’s boring. People never tell stories about that one time in college when they took all their money and invested it in a Roth IRA with no contribution limits. The good stories are the ones where someone lost it all in a backroom poker game or drained their accounts and went backpacking through South America.  But, much like oil changes and prostate exams, it’s just something that most people just have to do at some point in their life.

But it will be worth it. Right?


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