How many of you could relate to this headline alone? Is anyone else counting pennies until their next paycheck and you only got paid last Friday? Are the Pre-Approved credit card letters in the mail catching your eye more than they used to? Do they sit on your table and stare at you instead of making their way directly to the garbage like they used to?
Do you have to add up how much you have left combined on your debit card and your credit card to figure out if you have enough to get a pizza for dinner tonight? And if not, do you have enough random ingredients and cans of beans at home to make up a decent meal? I know how you feel.
Now obviously there are people in the world worse off. I’m a 23 year old girl renting a house (albeit expensive one) with her fiancé (add planning a wedding to that list) and 2 furbabies (that for some reason has to ingest food as well, who knew?). I make it by. Our air condition is running, we have assorted canned vegetables in the pantry, so we arent starving. So this isn’t to say life is miserable, this is reaching out to all of the 20-somethings (or even older! We all struggle!) out there that know how to make ramen noodles 14 different ways and resuse their towels 4 times because they’d rather get a bag of cookies than laundry detergent.
We all know the feeling. You know the one. Where your mind knows exactly how much you have in your account, but for a second you completely ignore it to buy groceries and just act like you’ll figure out a way to get the money back. Even though pay day isn’t for another 5 days and rent is due in 3.
When I hit 18, I discovered my first vice. And I’m not talking alcohol. I’m talking….
The Credit Card.
Now I had heard all of the stories. How people get credit cards, use them all up and spend the next 5 years of their lives regretting it. I thought I was smarter. Which in a way, I was. I’ve never been a big spender. I’d rather walk than pay an uber. I’d rather thrift than buy myself new clothes. I’d say I didn’t need new clothes and turn around and spend $20 at Taco Bell. Well the time came where I had to get my wisdom teeth removed and I had a bad reaction causing me to miss out on work for a month.
Maxed Discover Card.
Fast forward. I’m in college doing well, paying my card off little by little. I’m a hostess making $8/hour working part time and driving 3 hours a day just to go to college. I need to get another job to make more cash but the transition kills my income.
Maxed Visa Card.
Fast Forward. I’m a few years into college and I’m ready to move out on my own. I have one credit card paid off, I’m feeling strong and confident in my finances to say I’m ready to fly from the nest! My boyfriend’s car gets smashed, we have a switch of jobs, struggling, AND Christmas is all of a sudden a month away.
Maxed Amazon Visa Card.
We all know these feelings right? Where you just get good at swimming and all of a sudden you notice you’re swimming the wrong way? It’s called life. Every time something goes right, something has to go wrong.
75% of debt is paid off. Interest is no longer killing me. I can see the end of the tunnel, I have a well paying job, only a couple semesters left of school and I’m free. And to top it all off, vacation is right around the corner!
Our dog is brought to the Emergency vet for an emergency eye surgery bottoming out over a thousand dollars. I drop him off the night before I’m set to fly out for Washington D.C. for work. I’m a mess. Many days and weeks pass of traveling and finding watchers for the dog because he has to have constant supervision. We call in all kinds of favors, both of us are tired and stressed. At last, the dog is okay, I’m back from constant travel and it’s time to go on our group friend vacation. And we get engaged! The bright sun in a long long line of dark tunnels. I also realize at this point how much MORE stress my newly made fiancé must have been going through since the ring was purchased before the bottom fell out of the sky months before.
So, when all is said and done and you are home after the fabulous trip and there’s no more glamour left, what do you do?
You. Do. Not. Panic.
No one in the history of ever has done themselves a favor by panicking. Not that guy on Jaws, not any white girl in a scary movie and not a person tight on money.
So it’s time to plan.
I think the mistake people make in saving money, is still living your life. The biggest stress on not having extra money is sitting at home and acknowledging the fact that you aren’t spending. But spending is not the only thing there is to do! I know you always heard your parents say there’s plenty free things to do out there, but there really is! A huge problem when you are saving is taking your stress out on your partner. Don’t do that! Lean on one another. Encourage each other! Push them to be better and feel better. Make a jar full of popsicle sticks full of free things to do. Pick a mutual off day. My fiancé and I, for example, both have off on Sundays. Every Sunday we will pull a popsicle stick and get out and do something. Picnic, garden, plant a pack of flower seeds, walk the dog in a new part of town we haven’t been to, go listen to free live shows all around downtown, make a fort in the living room and set up for a game night or movie night. There are so many options!
The point is to not be idle. Don’t allow yourself to feel “poor”. You aren’t! You just aren’t spending extra money. Put those extra dollars from the movie theater and pay off that doctor bill. Automatically put the extra $8 onto a credit card you haven’t paid off! GET YOUR OIL CHANGED MEAGAN.
The point is, let this be a positive time. Set a time frame for this super save. Say from this month to May 2018, I am in Super Save mode. Keep yourself busy. When you’re bored and alone, go work out like you’ve been telling yourself you wanted to do. Learn how to meal plan!
Print out some meal planning charts and write your grocery list before you go to the store and DON’T STRAY FROM IT! PUT THE RESSES DOWN.
Make this positive, I will repeat. Make. This. Positive. Tell your friends what you’re doing so they understand. NO PEER PRESSURE, THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT. Literally. All of a sudden you’ll start to see your stress level go down. You’ll realize your bills are paid, you’re not living on the couch, the A.C. is still on. You’re doing alright. I know it feels good to spend. I know sometimes that feel good is felt by buying something as simple as being able to buy fruit (hella expensive). I’m not a big spender, sometimes I just have to put down the Chips Ahoy and pick up the Great Value. It doesn’t mean you can’t have the cookies, buy your cookies! But put it on your grocery list. Be honest with yourself. Go in the store knowing what you’re about to spend. Don’t choke at the cashier counter when they say $106.82. Be confident in your budget. Let that be your big girl word. (Or big boy)
MAKE IT POSITIVE.
MAKE IT POSITIVE.
MAKE IT POSITIVE.
If you set an attainable goal that you know you can reach, it’ll be better for you in the long run. You have enough to stress about. Don’t worry about seeing Wonder Woman a second time in IMAX. Take this time to get to know your significant other more. Go on cheap or free dates, have phone rules where you have to focus on one another. You know you’ll feel better for it. You’ll be out of debt, you’ll be on top of bills and you can eat ramen for fun and not out of necessity. I’m not writing this to preach. I’m writing this to say saving and staying out of debt is a positive thing. It can even be made into fun. If you’re like me, college is stressful enough without having to worry about if you have enough gas in the tank to make it back home. Be better to yourself. Throw away the pre approved stamped letters. They’ll only give you $200 anyways. Or think of it this way, the more cards you say yea to, the more downgrades you take for your future bought home. From 2 story house to 1 story, to 2 bed 1 bath, to 1 bed 1 bath, to your parents basement because your credit sunk to the 300s. Don’t wake up with a crashed credit score without even finishing your degree you’ve worked so hard for. It won’t be worth it. It only gets worse after school. Enjoy your time, love the love of your life or FALL in love. Go to thrift stores with $10 each, buy each other an outfit and make them wear it for the rest of the day. Bring your puppy to the dog park. Have a water sprinkler in the back yard like old times. Get a Dollar General slip ‘n slide and SET IT UP. Learn card tricks and games. There’s a lot to do. You don’t have to be poor and miserable. You can be comfortable, stable and happy. ❤
Just a confession of a Broke College Student making her way with the love of her life. Plus, we have a honeymoon to save for. 😉