Pay Yourself First!

 

For those of you that have read my posts here, or visited my blog, then you know I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and wondering where all my money was going.

 

I got on a budget, using Dave Ramsey's EveryDollar budgeting tool, which is free. I stumbled a bit at first, learning true restraint and impulse control. As I became more focused and aware of the state of my finances, I couldn't believe how much money I had left at the end of each month!

I got to a point where I was living off 50% of my net income!  I assure you, no one was more shocked than I was. I get paid bi-weekly. So I was living off of one paycheck a month and building my 6 month emergency fund with the rest.

Then this last December and January, with Christmas and my mother's birthday in Dec, my sister's birthday in January and my father's birthday on Feb 1st, I found I had fallen off the wagon. 

Hard.

Ouch!

Those expenditures led to MORE spending that was entirely frivolous. Now, a lot of people are divided on gift giving. In my life, I'm single with no kids and therefore all of my family members are adults.  So I recently decided, no gift giving. Period. We're all grown danged adults and we can all afford things we need. I decided to focus on sharing TIME with my family rather than compulsive gift giving.

What I really became aware of is how easy, even after a year of sacrifice via a strict budget, that a person can be pulled back into the materialistic spending habits they previously had.  But rather than beat myself up over it, I thought, "Hey! I recognized where I am going wrong and I'm going to take a deep breath, readjust and refocus on my financial goals."

And, in fact, since I've done so, it has brought me so much peace.  Knowing I can pay all my monthly bills off all at once and be done with it is a fantastic feeling!

Then....knowing that the next paycheck isn't assigned to a budgeted item, it goes right into my soon to be completed six month emergency fund. And that, alone gives me greater peace.

So, my fellow Penny Hoarders, if you've become aware you've fallen off your financial wagon or just let things go, then USE that opportunity as a springboard to reassert your goals and refocus on your good habits that help you build towards financial freedom and a better future.

Stay thrifty, my friends!

freedom

Rob Loftus

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As long as you get yourself back on track, I don't think I would call it failure, more like a lesson learned!

I recently read somewhere that the experiences in our life give us far more pleasure than any material thing ever could.

The truth is, my wife and I have found that to be true in our life.

This past Christmas, my wife and I didn't get each other anything. It wasn't because we didn't want to, but we both just couldn't think of any thing that we really wanted.

We did spend Christmas with some friends in Florida and were able to go to Disney and enjoy some time in the sun which was far more enjoyable than getting a physical gift.

When it comes to special occasions, I might occasionally get my wife a flower or some chocolates but usually our only thoughts are, "where can we travel to next!"

"What I really became aware of is how easy, even after a year of sacrifice via a strict budget, that a person can be pulled back into the materialistic spending habits they previously had.  But rather than beat myself up over it, I thought, 'Hey! I recognized where I am going wrong and I'm going to take a deep breath, readjust and refocus on my financial goals.'" -- this is so relatable!!!  Knowing that we're all human, we're all going to make mistakes every now and then, is such a critical mindset to have. Once you tell yourself you've failed and why bother trying, you've already defeated yourself. 

I recently had to break my lease and cover the remaining two months at my old place while accruing the fees of moving somewhere new during that time. OUCH. During this time, I did not eat out once. I bought groceries and cooked food at home. I was so dedicated that even when my favorite store had a MAJOR online sale, I didn't buy anything. Now that I am recovering from those sizable bills, I don't even have the itch to check out what's going on at J. Crew. When you go through a couple months of a super tight budget, it is hard to remember why you subscribed to your consumerist lifestyle in the first place. Looking back, breaking my lease was a financial mistake, but it was ultimately the right decision and taught me some valuable lessons about my spending habits along the way. 

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