5 Ways $ Escapes Us

It’s so easy to throw money out of the window. Well, figuratively. It is a shame that money is a necessity in today’s world, but that is the reality. Plus, as they say, the only thing guaranteed in this life is death and taxes! Living paycheck-to-paycheck, from what I’ve observed, is a very stressful existence. And a very common one! Having no idea of what you have in the bank is a sure-fire way to lose it all.
Sometimes, I jokingly refer to myself as ‘Eleanor Scrooge’. But I don’t hoard what I’ve earned. I’ve just had to train my brain to budget. Whether I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck or making a 7-figure income, I need to know what is going on in my life financially.
Here’s why:
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1. The little things add up and become big things.
 
 Have you ever looked at exactly how much money you’re spending on food per month? Per week? That’s groceries including all fast food, coffee fixes, and appetizers at happy hour. In a ‘feed-me-now’ society, the amount of money we spend on food in the United States is astronomical compared to many other countries in the world. I know that before I began paying attention to my own spending, I could easily spend $100+ a week on food outside of my kitchen. In the morning before work or school, I’d swing by Starbucks for a latte’ and a muffin. Then at lunch I’d grab a meal at Panera Bread. After the gym, I’d go to the smoothie bar get a drink. I could go out every night with my boyfriend or friends to a restaurant for dessert or a diner for milkshakes. What I thought were minimal purchases at each time became one of my biggest expenses at the end of every month.

 

 
2. Emergencies tend to be expensive.

 

 
Every financial advisor will encourage their client to develop an ’emergency fund’ or ’emergency account’. Hey, stuff happens! Typically, the stuff happens to be nasty, money-guzzling mishaps we cannot prevent once they have started. A great example is when I was dog sitting a neighbor’s dog a few months ago. I got home late and parked my car in their driveway to take the dog out. When I got in my car to leave, I accidentally backed up over a pipe in their yard and watched in horror as a geyser of water shot up into the air. I had knocked out the water to their entire house. At 1 o’clock in the morning. And I was soaking wet. Needless to say, I paid to get it fixed and we all lived happily ever after – but it was quite a chunk of change I wasn’t anticipating to spend! The point is, unexpected costs come up all the time. From a chipped tooth, to a botched at-home hair dye job, to a phone falling into the pool — accidents happen. Knowing that you’re somewhat prepared for one will definitely ease the stress during.
 
3. Impulsive shopping almost always morphs into regret. 
 
This is a dangerous ground for me. If I see a pair of shoes that I want, and I know that I have a greater amount in my bank account than what is on the price tag, it takes a whole lot of strength to tear myself away from them. Impulsive shopping is like a disease. I’ll talk myself into buying something I know I don’t need, ‘but it’s just so cute!’. And then I’ll get home, take it out of the bag, and instantly regret it. Buyer’s Remorse is just as evil. Shopping is still fun. But while I’m teaching myself to pay better attention to what I’m spending my money on, I tend to put a little more thought into what I’m looking at before I ring it up at the cash register.
 
4. We forget and overlook additional expenses. 
 
So, say you are already conscious of what money you spend. You calculated altogether how much it costs to get into an amusement park or see a show, the milage and price of gas it will cost to get there, and even added a couple bucks for a snack. How about parking fees? Toll roads? Sales tax? Many times I have hastily stuffed a couple dollars worth of quarters into a parking meter or groaned about the 15% tip at a restaurant. Give yourself some leniency with budgeting and add another couple bucks for these overlooked expenses.
 
5. We buy things to impress rather than invest. 
 
I truly wish I could stamp this on the foreheads of some people. Here’s a novel idea: if you can’t afford it and you don’t need it, don’t buy it. If you have no money in the bank but you do have a credit card, same thing applies – you still can’t afford it. The first thing I think of as an example may seem trivial, but was big in my pre-teen years. I was beginning to make money babysitting and I’d always go spend my wages on a popular fad at the time: faded and ripped-up jeans. Regardless of the fact it looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to my legs, the jeans would cost more than a normal pair and fall apart twice as fast. I was trying to impress my peer by my ‘sense of fashion’ rather than invest in a pair of jeans that would actually last and keep my legs warm. Which is sort of the purpose…
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Well, I hope someone got some sort of enlightenment out of this. And at the very least, one of you chuckled at the thought up me running around like a wet hen in the middle of the night trying to turn a geyser of water off.
– Jenni xx
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