Emergency Fund

I am an advocate of living in the moment, not stressing too hard about the future, but like everything, there must be a happy medium.

What does this mean for my finances?

It means you should have a savings fund for any future emergencies. Because ya never know what life is going to throw at you. 

I thought about that this week, because our fridge broke! Saturday night, it stopped cooling. To our luck, we just bought a week worth of groceries the day before. 

By Sunday morning, I was tossing everything out, getting ahold of a refrigerator service, hoping the damage wouldn’t cost me too much.

WELP, the turnout was….$224. Moral of the story: it is nice to not have the world fall on your shoulders when an unexpected emergency occurs.

Here are some tips on how to begin saving an emergency fund

The way I did it, was pretty straight forward. I put away whatever I could every month, until I reached about $1,000 in emergency money. That number may be different for you. 

Sincerely,

Your Budget Gal

How do you approach your finances as a couple?

By now, you may have noticed that I mention my boyfriend, Austin, pretty often in talking about my/our finances.

Last night my newly married sister was filling me in on others comments since her new status as married. Most are, “When are the kids coming?” to which her response is “Uh, not anytime soon.” The second question is “What is different between you two now?” to which her response is “Nothing” (they have been together/living together for 5 years). And the third question following is “But you have your finances together now right?” to which her response is “We have always had our finances together.”

Of course in the beginning stages they did not. But when they moved in together, they began to plan their finances and budget together.

From conversations I have had with friends, I see people are incredibly intimidated, and turned off by the idea of sharing finances with your significant other before marriage. Although, young people seem to be more likely to do so now a days.  However, I want to share my PERSONAL (once again, I must stress it is my personal opinion) stance on the subject.

Sharing your finances is a big commitment. I agree. But when you decide that you are committing to the relationship, and especially when you are deciding to move in together (another way that you commit yourself), joining your finances and setting goals together can strengthen your relationship.

Ofcourse, every couple is unique. Forbes gives some advice on what works according to six different couples.

What works for us?

Talking about how much effort we expect form one another in contributing the most we can to our finances without stressing ourselves out.

Having a small allowance for each of us to do with whatever we please.  It is nice to not record and report every dollar to one another sometimes.

I handle most of the finances, but I make sure he is included in where the money is going (considering half is his).

Talking about what happens if we had to break up. Reality is that the possibility is always there, and it must be talked about. In this conversation we talk about how much of the finances would go to each of us. Is it half and half? Or is one of us contributing a significant amount more than the other? We try to give credit where credit is due.

Lastly, TALKING and COMMUNICATING. Letting your significant other know if and when something is bothering you about your finances is key. Don’t forget to tell them what pleases you about your finances too. Here are some tips on having those dreaded “money talks“.

Ultimately, if you are committed to your significant other, waiting for marriage to combine your finances seems a bit old-fashioned to me. I want to know how you handle your money, and agree to be on he same page before planning a $15,000 wedding, or buy a new home.

My expensive, friendly, impulse decision.

One of the biggest financial decisions I have made in my short 21 years of life…

Can you guess?

She is a furry, has big brown eyes, licks me to death, and is my own little vacuum cleaner wherever I go.

Her name is Gypsy. She is the first dog I’ve had. At only six months old…she is my best friend. HOWEVER, I must admit when I first got her, it was an impulse decision. I came back from a trip, was feeling the “back to the real world blues” and decided to go get a puppy.

Yes, I now see my mistakes.

Although I do not regret that day by any means, I realize now what a responsibility dogs can be, and all the things we should take into consideration before going out to get one. They really are like children!

And they are EXPENSIVE. Money Under 30 has an article to help you decide if you can afford that furry friend.

Gypsy has cost us over a thousand dollars already. Most of this comes from things she has eaten that we had to replace. Among those things:

  • computer charges (3 of them)
  • phone chargers
  • carpet
  • shoes
  • undies

Here is a website that might give you an idea of what the annual care for a dog is.

And with that said, I present you Gypsy

FullSizeRender

Beautiful, isn’t she?

I would love to hear how expensive your furry best friend is. Comment below!

What I use to track my finances.

When I first began playing close attention to my spending habits and budget I used a good ol’ pen and paper. I would write down every single purchase over the course of a month, and add it up as I went along.

Did it work? Yes. Was it hard? Yes.

Some days I forgot to write down purchases I made, leaving me with extra information to input as the undocumented purchases accumulated.

And then…I found mint.

You may have seen mint commercials, advertisements on Facebook, or advertisements wherever else advertisements show up. Here is one:

And maybe you are skeptical of trusting a website or app to track your finances, but I will only share with you my opinion and experience with mint.

However, here is an article from the New York Times that goes into whether you should trust mint or not.

Let me explain to you how mint works for me on a more personal level. There is both an online version, and an app version. Mint links to your bank account, and every time you make a purchase, or get a paycheck, it records it. It can categorize purchases into different categories which you are able to choose yourself depending on your lifestyle. For example, I have a category for bills, restaurants, and groceries among others. The list of categories is quite extensive and detailed if you like to be more detailed than that.

Mint allows you to set budgets under each category at the start of every month. This works out great, because as you make purchases, it inputs them into your budget, does the hard math stuff for you, and you can now tell at all times where you stand on your budget.

It looks somewhat like this:

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It is even pleasing to eye, isn’t it? The graphs will turn red when you are close to reaching any spending limits.

Mint also will sync any bills, and send you reminders of upcoming bills. Kudos mint.

I recently discovered this, but in the online version of mint, you can even get help figuring out how to save. You can choose what you are saving for, for example a trip somewhere.  You input for how many people, how many days, how soon (it allows you estimate what hotels will cost, airfare, food, etc.), hit enter, and BAM. Mint tells you how much you need to save a month to reach your goal.

Once again, Genius mint.

I’ve tried different apps, and programs to help me stay on top of my finances, but by far mint is the most helpful, convenient, and simple. Oh, not to mention it is free. That is always a plus. Who wants to pay for a budget app?

What would you never do for money?

This whole blog is about money. All the emphasis is on money. But today, I am feeling a little playful.

So instead of talking about all the ways I save money, and make money, I am going to make a list of all the things you could not pay me enough to do. I also made Austin make one.

Austin’s List: 

  1. Eat a spider, no matter how small the spider is. He has a serious fear of spiders.
  1. Eat a cat. We have cats, so no. Def NOT.
  1. Live somewhere really cold. He is a sunshine guy. Tall, thin, pale, doesn’t do well with cold.

My list: 

  1. You can’t pay me enough to eat beets. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I had the worst experience with them as a kid. Beets make me sick, no thank you.
  2. You can’t pay me enough to stay up for over 24 hours. I don’t do well without sleep. I like sleep. I normally sleep by eleven every night. I just don’t care to be sleep deprived for a little cash.
  3. You can’t pay me enough be alone in the middle of the ocean for one night. That is a big fear of mine. Open water, no other people around, anything could get you. EEEEKKK. I don’t even go on cruises.

What is something you would never do for money?

Here are some things people DID do for money. Go ahead and have some laughs.

And on a more serious note, here are things people wouldn’t really do, and should never do for money. This includes, scamming people and selling drugs.

Our personal budget:

When I first started to create a budget, it really helped to look online to use other bloggers tactics. I specially found Our Freaking Budget helpful, because they posted their personal finances. No shame in doing so, which I admire.

I will go ahead and adopt that idea, and share my budget with you for this month.

Budget for September:

Bills: $850

Gas: $200

Groceries: $250

Restaurants: $150

Savings: $200

Everything else: $300

Important things to note:

* Our bills include rent (which we currently have a sweet deal on), electric, phone, car insurance, internet, water, lawn, credit cards, and such set expenses.

*We had to budget a little extra on our groceries this month. We normally shop at Trader Joes, I am a big fan of Trader Joes. We can get a lot of organic food, for cheap. Way cheaper than Publix. Websites like Cheap Recipe BlogCarrots N Cake, and All You, are really helpful for helping budget your groceries. I will cover that in a later post.

* Our gas budget is pretty high, but between driving from our jobs and school, we drive quite a bit.

*Our everything else category covers anything that doesn’t fall into the other categories. For example, medicine because I was sick this month, or the bottle of wine we didn’t get during our groceries. This particular month, we made it with absolutely no left over money in that category. However, having categories and knowing we should stop spending was better than overspending money we did not have. Instead, we found cheap ways to have fun, which I will also cover in a later post.

What are you saving for?

 

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I found ourselves talking about our future plans, what Christmas will look like this year, what I plan to do after graduation, our goals, dreams, and aspirations.

As a result, I want to share with you the importance of knowing what you are working for, and saving for.

See, so many times people are just saving to save. Hoarding away their money, but for what? (And I am not denying that I catch myself being one of those people many times.) What is the point of saving, if all your money just sits in the bank account? Instead of such nonsense, KNOW what you are saving for. Write it down, remind yourself every day.

For me, I save so I can see the world. So I can travel. This holiday season, Austin and I would like to rent a cabin up in the mountains. So, some of our savings will go to that. Once graduation hits in May, going to Europe is part of the plan. What adventure are you saving up for? 

If you are up for killing some time, check out what other people are saving up for on this Reddit forum. At the very least, you’ll get some laughs out of it. 

Having these goals in mind, will remind you why you save, why you work so hard, even when the exhaustion hits. It is about giving yourself some motivation to keep going, because we all know saving can get mundane and boring sometimes. 

Also, keep it in mind; there are little ways to save money without having to put away money in an account. Check these ideas out. Frugal Bastard also has some great ideas such as picking up money on the street. (Although, I don’t see that much money lying around the streets.)

Regardless of what way you are saving in, or what you are saving for:

“Think about why you want to save money and take every opportunity to remind yourself. Talk about it out loud. Write it down.”- Chloe Della Costa