1. Be Better at…Money.

    UPDATE #2: First Week!

    I have been slacking…I now write for a handful of other blogs, have a full-time job, and a very full-time social life so I apologize, this post is WAY overdue!

    (If you need some backstory, see the idea behind the Single Benjamin Project HERE.)

    My week started out with a bang, getting grocery shopping outta my way, and getting things prepped for being the girl who cooks, brings her lunch, and pre-drinks heavily before going out.

    To be completely transparent about my spending, I logged everything I bought into a running list, so you can see all the gory details:

    • Trader Joe’s Grocery Shopping Trip: $41 ($59 left)
    • Coworker’s Birthday Contribution: $5 ($54 left)
    • Bus Fare to NJ: $10 ($44 left)
    • Gorilla Coffee: $2 ($42 left)
    • Toilet Paper: $1 ($41 left)
    • Gorilla Coffee: $2 ($39 left)
    • Grocery Store: $12 ($27 left)
    • Charitable Donation: $10 ($17 left)
    • Beer: $6 ($11 left)
    • Becky Birthday Drink: $7 ($4 left)
    • Scratch Off Lottery Ticket: $1 ($3 left)
    • Winnings of Said Lottery Ticket +$3 ($6 left)
    • One More Scratch-Off: $1 ($5 left)

    SO…Drumroll….I HAD $5 bucks left at the end of my seven day stint! 

    Now, I have to say, it’s annoying as sh*t to think about every penny, but here are some things I learned during my first week that’ll make next time MUCH easier.

    Pay Attention to Waste: After the first couple days of “Chinae’s Survival Camp”, I realized how much I waste on a daily basis. Having to think about things in a more specific, planned way made me realize that I should be more thoughtful of the things I buy, what motivates me to buy, and what I do with what I’ve got. I learned to cook only what I am planning on eating, revamping old clothes into new looks, and to finish that last gulp of drink before moving on to the next. 

    Ask Twice: I don’t live super extravagantly in general, BUT I noticed and realized that I don’t ever question myself about purchases or treats that are less than $20 bucks. I put a lot of thought into spending more than $20…but as long as it’s under that level, I don’t blink a fake eyelash. This is probably the most disconcerting thing I realized about my spending habits. A coffee here, a drink or three there, a random on-sale piece of clothing….REALLY ADD UP. Not only do they add up, those minor luxuries were eating my entire paycheck without me even realizing it. It really was mind boggling to make myself stop and think twice about forking over my hard earned moolah. Most times when I asked myself if I REALLY needed something, the answer was a big, fat NO. And when it was a YES, I felt confident spending that money on something that was worth it.

    Still Be Good To Others: To break the cycle of bad money habits, I think the main thing is not allowing the need for money/things to rule your life on some level, it gives wealth and the obtaining of things WAY too much power. This can be overspending & the maturation of debt but I realized that obsessing over frugality can also start to rule your life in the same way as spending can. The only way I know how to fight against both sides, is to continue to be generous with what you have. It may be on a smaller scale with a lessened budget, but joyfully giving, showing kindess to people you care for, and helping those who need it…was the only way that during my week that I was able to balance frugality with freedom. 

    Don’t Stop Doing Life: The problem with most diets are that you can’t very well live that way forever, because it doesn’t fit in with REAL LIFE. It’s a short fix to a long-term problem. I think this sort of money “diet” can make you experience something similar. You feel like you are chained to your house, because that’s where you’ve stockpiled your food like the end of the f*cking world was coming, you don’t want to go out and NOT have cocktails, and you try and avoid temptations at all costs. Well, that diet plan is either going to do two things: you will turn into a communication-inept bridge troll due to spending that much time alone at home, or you will become frustrated and go hog wild at the first chance you get, like a meth-head at a Sudafed factory. I kept my sanity this past week by still engaging in normal life, and spending plenty of time with people. Yes, eating before or after a dinner, sucks. Yes, pre-drinking at your apartment, sucks. Yes, JUST window shopping, sucks. But you know what doesn’t suck? NOT WORRYING ABOUT MONEY. 

    Tell People: It’s always easier to do something with a good support system. You also are less tempted to cheat on your challenge if everyone around you knows what you’re doing. Don’t go all Tony Robbins on everyone and start giving motivational talks…just let those in your inner circle in on your plans and they’ll hopefully help you stick to it. Hey, they might even treat you to a drink or two. 

    Hope this encourages you to get off your ass and do something about your budget…don’t worry, you have someone doing it right along side you, bitching all the way.

    xo Chinae