For those of you who are not familiar with the excellence that is Hyperbole and a Half, at the very least, check out this comic. Basically, it's a comic that speaks to a lot of people of all ages. Being an adult is HARD WORK, people.
A lot of my problems are well described in this comic. I go to the grocery store and shop like I'm going to learn how to cook (I can't) and like I'm going to eat super healthy (I don't). A week later and I have some rotting vegetables in the kitchen, in contrast to the empty candy wrappers and chip bags in my room. MMHMM. Cleaning all the things? Nuh-uh. My room is never clean. Bank? I'm down about $500 in my account because I haven't found an envelope to MAIL my checks to my bank.
Some problems will always be problems. I will just have to get off my ass and clean my room, like it or not. But one problem that's always given me issues: budgeting.
I automatically have money taken out of my paycheck every month that goes into a high(er)-interest savings account.* That's how I've saved up enough to not have grad app fees affect me too much. But when it comes down to the question, "Am I saving as much as I could?" the answer is the longest, loudest, "NO" that you've ever heard. Old Navy, ThinkGeek, etsy, Whole Foods, Walgreens/CVS. Really, it's not good. Little purchases add up, too.
I've tried strategies before. I've attempted to use Mint.com to budget, but the end result is that I get emails from them telling me I've exceeded my budget for "Stuff."** I've tried telling myself, "Only $25 at Trader Joe's!" I've tried to ban myself from online shopping (something more effective when it's not the holiday season).
So I have a new strategy today!
Starting on Wednesday (I'm starting with a half-month so I can start saving NOW instead of waiting two weeks), I'm going to change how I pay for things, now what things I pay for.
Checks: Rent, some utilities (i.e. paying back my roommates)
Credit card: Grad school fees, Comcast, general necessities such as medication and doctor's appointments
And everything else will be in cash.
Cash is a very easy way to know how much money you can spend on something. Before I had a credit card (before I was 22), I couldn't buy something if I didn't have the cash for it.*** Now, I'm going back to that method. Not because I was a big saver before I turned 22, but because that's the only way I can really see myself achieving my goal of cutting back spending. It'll be much easier to avoid online shopping if I know that I have to deduct $30-40 from next month's cash. It'll be easier to decide if I'm going to buy those chips if I only have $20 left and I want to go out tomorrow night.
So that's my goal! We'll see how well it works, of course. I have hope.
* ING Direct used to have great interest, somewhere near 3%. It's down to about 1%, but it's much better than letting your money rot in a checking account.
** I used to try to budget everything. $X for groceries, $X for gas, $X for gifts, $X for work lunch, $X for dates with exbf, etc. It did NOT work. Now, I just budget $250-300 for "Stuff," but like I said, that doesn't work either.
*** Not that I started bleeding money once I got a credit card. I actually was fine until recently!