My first ever budget happened around the age of 21, and I began a regular discipline of budgeting thereafter. Since my parents and grandparents (and scholarships) paid for my college tuition, I only had to cover basic living expenses during college, which as a college student (who also happened to be an RA) were dirt cheap.
When I graduated from college, I moved in with my parents for a few months while I searched for full time employment. Actually, I was employed full time, but it was as a night shift "manager" in a warehouse where the other night shift employee (yes, singular) sometimes showed up. The company was so backed up, that they would take me for as many hours as I was willing to work provided that I showed up no earlier than 2PM. I usually left a little after midnight.
Unfortunately, after the afternoon shift left (usually the overtime folks were out by 5PM), the lights went on motion sensor. If I stood in one place too long (which happened a lot because I was processing returns), I had to quickly run from one end of the warehouse to the other to get the lights to flip back on.
Anyhow, during those months at home, my expenses were just above zero because my mom was so happy to have me doing some cooking and cleaning around the house (she was recovering from cancer and needed rest). During this time, my budget looked like this:
Money on Hand (as of graduation): $7000
Insurance (1 year): $612
Gas (per month): $100
Interview clothes: $1000
Junk food from convenience station: $.79 per work day (Diet Coke).
For three months I didn't deviate from this budget (other than to pick up a few items from the grocery store at my parent's request) despite the fact that I was now earning real money (or at least real to me, I was probably on track to earn close to $40K if prorated over the year).
I love budgets! My husband and I create a unique zero sum budget every month, based off of the previous month's income. However, budgeting has not always been my forte. My first ever attempt at budgeting went a little something like this.
I had just finished my junior year of college, and I was driving a friend to the airport. I then proceeded to rear end a car while driving (I kid you not) three miles per hour. We were at a stoplight, on a hill, and I partially lifted my foot off the break and just kind of rolled into a truck.
I pulled off to the side of the road, and assessed the damage. The truck appeared to be fine except for a paint nick.
Using the savvy trick my dad taught me, I exchanged insurance information, but asked that she call me personally to see if I could pay for the damages out of pocket. She told me that would be fine, and she drove off.
Meanwhile, my car (a 1980 Mercedes Benz with some functional parts) appeared to have sprung a leak. I don't know a lot about cars, but that didn't seem good. I called AAA to tow my car to a nearby shop, and we called another friend to drive the other friend to the airport.
Then I went over to a friend's house to crunch some numbers and cry.
I love having fun! In fact, I pretty much married my husband because he's such a fun guy (I mean among other positive traits, but this is definitely top 3). He keeps me on my toes.
Every month, we set aside a certain amount of money for "Fun Splurges." This month, we spent the money on Hornworm Chow because we are attempting to raise Sphinx Moths from eggs that my husband rescued from a dead Sphinx Moth that he saw while biking.
You think I'm kidding but I'm totally not. I think this is a fun activity, so we're doing it.
Fun, is one of my family's top values, and as a result we are happy to dedicate our resources (both financial and otherwise) to the pursuit of fun. However, because our resources are limited, we're very concerned about the bang for our buck when it comes to the pursuit of fun! These are my tips for maximizing fun while minimizing money spent.
One thing that I've noticed is popular to do is to complain when you spend an unusually large sum of money on something that's not a vacation. In fact, even I'm guilty of this.
I think complaining about spending money is a perfectly valid use of your time if the Mafia is holding you up, or if you've had an unusually bad string of luck for an extended period of time. But as a good rule of thumb, unless one of the previous situations apply to you, complaining about spending money is annoying to others and pretty unhelpful to yourself too.
Outside of complaining about spending money on things I have consumed or will be consuming, I can basically choose to pay for these goods and services or not. Since I'm not a pirate, I will pay for the goods and services.
Here's my three step procedure to not complaining about having to pay for stuff that I have chosen to consume.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.