I'm Taking Control Of My Financial Destiny (or at least, not being an idiot with money)
I was 18 when my mother removed herself as the co-signer on my checking account. It was five days before I left for college and she handed me my checkbook like she was handing me a set of keys to a secret treasure chest.
"Nora, she said, "you are now in control of your financial destiny. Use this wisely."
And yes, she paused that dramatically because that is how she likes to speak during important life moments.
As you can expect, I took those keys to my financial destiny and drove it straight into a pool of parental disappointment. Which is to say, I spent all of my money in the first semester of college.
Like, all of it. Every penny I had saved babysitting on Saturday nights. Every dollar I had earned plucking kids from the deep end of the public pool because their mothers were too busy tanning to make sure their little ones weren't drowning. Every nickel I earned as a hostess at the department-store restaurant where I flirted with the servers in hopes they would bring me buttery pop-overs to snack on behind the hostess stand in between seating little old ladies at giant booths so they could enjoy hot bowls of soup on a steamy July day.
So, the money was gone and my parents were beyond pissed. They were mystified, disgusted and dismayed. Could their straight-A daughter actually be an idiot?
Well, yes, she could indeed. I'll skip over the part about how I wasn't emotionally prepared for college and treated my depression with some therapeutic online shopping and get to the point: ever since that fateful semester TEN YEARS AGO, I've felt bad about my relationship with money. I'm no longer spending 100% of my income on Steve Madden shoes (I can't believe I'm confessing that but we're friends, right?) but it hasn't been an easy road, either. Sure, there were those years in NYC, where I couldn't save a penny if my life depended on it, but also, I just REALLY LIKE SPENDING MY MONEY. And not on big-ticket things, either. I don't have expensive handbags or a fancy car. I haven't been taking lavish vacations or gotten plastic surgery. I've just been eating my money. Literally.
Recently, my bank pointed out that they are tracking my debit card purchases and I could view my spending habits by pie chart. If you want to know how much is too much of your income to spend on food, ask me and I will tell you privately. Like so many times before, I found myself shaking my head at myself and saying, "I gotta get my life together." Out loud. Because that is the only way to let myself know that I am serious.
So where am I going with this? A new self-improvement goal! With new action items for me to obsess over! Like:
(1) Talking to my financially-savvy friend to get an idea of how she manages a budget. Turns out, she doesn't keep a set budget, she just "tries not to act like an idiot." Noted.
(2) Borrowing a Suze Orman book, and reading the front cover and the prologue.
(3) Downloading some apps, which yes, is a form of spending money.
(4) Using the same program that my bank used to scare me straight to set a goal! And a timeline!
Now all I have to do is use these things... and my darn brain.
Are you chicks all financially fit, or do you struggle with spending?
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I think it is! I have a ton of friends who use it and no one has ever complained to me about it! It's so that they can track and create the charts and budgets for you! :)
Nora! When you figure it out, let us know! ;p I think there are a ton of us out there! :)
I'm with BMO here in Canada, and they have something called Money Logic when you sign into your online banking! That's where I started with the pie charts! You organize your expenses and it makes charts for you! It's really interesting! But a few of my friends swear by Mint as well!
9 months later and it's STILL a process!
Ah, I see. That's a bummer :/
@sirenstarlight - most US banks have this functionality. I don't know about Canadian banks. Same is true of credit cards!
By the way, what bank has this pie chart??
I struggle unbelievably with my finances. I'm 28, I live alone with my dog and work 35 hours a week in an office and don't have any savings whatsoever.
It's like you and I are living identical lives! With that said, it's the norm nowaday for most people in their late 20's-early 30's! How sad isn't it? When I started college and all these financial institutions starting offering me credit cards, I got 5! Managed to max all of them out within the yr and spent the last 8 yrs paying them off! These weren't $500 limits either! Put paying those bills, with paying for your cell phone, transportation, and food, and well, there goes you're whole paycheque! Who woulda thought I'd still be living paycheque to paycheque at 30?! Sucks! And according to the pie chart with my bank... it's 70% on food! Ugh! Good luck with your journey!
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