Friday, April 28, 2006

Taking Budgeting Seriously

I have been reading Single Ma's website religiously. She is a wonderful resource for me because she is a single black female, has a daughter and a dog, and is financially stable. However, she knows first hand what it feels like not to be. Her tone is never condescending and she is constantly linking to other web resources. Another great thing about her is that she is still on the journey as well. She talks about her struggles with staying in control of her money and not the other way around. I've learned so much from her. I don't feel nearly as alone in my money struggles. Yes...everyone struggles with money, but no one ever talks about it, so what good is it to say that everyone struggles!

So, to celebrate the fact that she is moving into her first home this weekend, I am taking some of her advice. I am going to take budgeting seriously by creating a realistic one that I can live with. On a payday, no less!

I had already opened an ING savings account...leave me a comment if you want a referral to open one. You could get a free $25!...but I was putting an insane amount of money in it every month. Which meant I was always tapping into it, thus negating the purpose of the account altogether. So I adjusted my bi-weekly withdrawal to an amount that I could truly not touch. I did the same with the money market account attached to my checking account.

I downgraded my cable...goodbye, Sopranos! I paid my cable bill today and realized that I can get access to the shows I love through other means: the internet, getting the book from the library, etc. Since I can't live without internet in my home, something had to give. I'm taking two courses this summer; the time I save not watching TV can go toward other things. And I cancelled my Netflix membership. I wasn't using it at all, so why pay for it? These cutbacks aren't serious in terms of the amount I'm saving. It's only about $40 a month. But as Single Ma keeps telling me, every little bit helps. It all adds up.

And even though it's payday, I'm still bringing my lunch to work.


beebs said...

Dear L-Brit,
i had no idea that the words EVICTION were part of your recent debacle- OMG!!! I have been on planet headupmyanus for a couple of weeks! So sorry for your recent woahs and so happy for your recent immediate win!

I have questions for you and all:

1. does downgrading your cable make THAT much of a difference.
2. How can one put money away when one has no expendable income?

thank you wise one- I await your answere

Melissa said...

You are f-ing brilliant. Seriously, I'm not just saying that 'cause you're cute.

maura said...

Yes -- downgrading cable makes THAT much of a difference. It's the little things that count. Even bringing lunch to work counts.

It's not just about the $$ saved from that cable downgrade -- it's about not wasting money. It's about practicing more fiscal responsibility.

Besides: we live in such a vibrant city. Who needs cable TV when there is so many more unique forms of entertainment surrounding us? (At least, that's what I keep telling myself!)

Plus, it just feels good to know that you're taking control of your finances that way.

I'm a big fan of ING -- that's why it's difficult for me to admit that there are other on-line savings accounts with higher-yielding savings. Emigrant direct, HSBC, and now Citibank E-Savings all have about 4.50% interest compared to ING's 4.0%.

And HSBC and Citibank, permit you to access the money from an atm. (I think that's right...Don't quote me on that.) But of course, having easier access to the cash, is not really ideal, when one is trying NOT to spend it.

You should apply for the ING Mortgage Contest. All that's req'd: 100 word essay about how ING helps save you money, and a picture showing your pride for orange. 1st prize gets: $15,000!

L. Britt said...

If you live in NYC, you have expendable income. If you meet friends for dinner at least twice a week, you have expendable income. If you go to the movies, the theatre, or buy a CD at least once a week, you have expendable income.

If you cut out one of those dinners, wait til video for one of those movies and then put that money in a savings account, you are saving. It may not be a lot in the beginning, but it always grows.

My lifestyle has definitely changed. I'm eating at home a lot more; meeting people for coffee, not for dinner. Since time out literally equals money, I'm being more cautious about it. It's also forced me to be more creative with how I see friends. A walk in the park, taking advantage of free offers for the sake of seeing friends, not drinking when I go out...stuff like that. It's hard, but it's so worth it.

maura said...

If we think back to when we were in high school or college -- where some of our most memorable and most important friendships developed -- they developed over activities that COST LITTLE TO NO MONEY!

And in fact, those times spent together, not in restaurants, not at bars, seem to me to be the moments of highest quality.


You're inspiring me...Miss L. Britt!

Kelly said...

Congratulations on taking charge of your financial life. You are inspiring.

I'll be happy to give you Sopranos updates any time you want. :)

The Rover (aka K Lance) said...

I read this great book, "Debt Free By 30". And the message is similiar to what L. Britt's saying here. Every bit does count. And, after a while, it becomes second nature.

So, when we hang out this week, we'll go for coffee.