As my 27th birthday quickly approaches (coming up in October), my financial situation has weighed heavily on my mind. As much as I think about my writing, I tend to find myself thinking more and more about my financial stability.
For my age and where I’m at in life, I’m doing very well. Aside from student loans, I do not have any ridiculous amounts of debt to pay. I stay with my parents which is great for saving money as they don’t require me to pay rent (I do help out with expenses) and I have only used one credit card in my life (which I only use for emergencies and pay on time every month). I do plan on being out of the house within the next year or so. A coworker told me that I should not rush to move out from under my folks and that she lived with her parents until the day she married. It makes no sense to rush into an apartment and pay for rent and utilities when I have a free roof over my head.
I recently went to the bank to open up an IRA and the banker I talked with was amazed that someone of my age had amassed such an impressive savings record. For the most part, I’ve never been flashy with how I spend my money. I don’t ever need to have the latest clothes and I wouldn’t exactly call myself a follower of trends. I buy the majority of my clothes off the clearance rack from Old Navy, Belk, Sears and stores of the like. I get most of my footwear from Rack Room Shoes and Shoe Show. I know how to catch a sale and how to look good without paying a fortune.
Just as it appeared everything was working out financially, I got a monkey wrench thrown in which may cause my savings to take a temporary nosedive. Of course it’s car problems. My car has been acting up a lot over the past week. My gut tells me it’s something with the transmission, but I’m not completely sure. I put a new used transmission in a few months back and the car didn’t improve too much, but it was still very drivable. This morning I had to pull over on the side of the road on my way to church and call a friend to pick me up. Looks like my car could be on its final lifeline.
Getting another car has been something I’ve dreaded for a long time. I’ve thought about it, but I really wasn’t looking to make that kind of investment until maybe next year. My current vehicle is a 1990 Honda Accord and I made the decision after my last transmission fiasco that I would not put any more serious money into it. I just plan on riding it out until it can’t go any further. However, I wasn’t expecting that time to come so soon!
I’ve been doing some research and talking to some friends about how to go about looking for a car. You may think it’s strange I’m asking people about this stuff, but there is a good reason. Both of the cars I’ve had so far in my life were used (not from a dealership) and I didn’t have to pay a car note on either. Now I’m bracing myself for the reality of shelling out $250 or more bucks per month for a new ride. My goal since getting my first full-time job in 2010 has always been to save as much as I can so that I will have a safety net of funds to fall back onto when I’m married. I want my future wife and I to struggle (I know it’s inevitable) as little as possible financially. To me, that means being able to live comfortably in a decent neighborhood never having to worry where the money for the next bill will come from.
My savings have also taken a tumble due to a huge surge of what I call “unnecessary spending.” Basically, it’s buying stuff I don’t need.
Eating out is my primary weakness. I eat out multiple times in a week, even when I’m not hungry. Thankfully, it hasn’t caught up to me physically (thank God for my metabolism), but it has caught up to me financially. I would estimate that I spend roughly $30 a week on fast food. Instead, I could go the grocery store and buy enough food at that price to last me for two weeks.
A big part of it comes from eating lunch at work. It seems as if every one of my coworkers eats out for lunch and at times I feel like I should too. There have been times, since starting my job, where I have bought lunch with me from home and still end up going out to buy something once lunch hour hits. It’s like a habit that I can’t break, but I definitely need to.
My spending on useless items reached an all-time high around the time this job started (seems like this job was the catalyst for a lot of destructive spending habits). I vividly remember treating myself to six books after my first day of work. Granted, they were from a used bookstore and came to a grand total of $20, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t need them. I already have enough books in my room that I haven’t read to fill a small library. A similar occurrence happened when I bought two shirts from my campus bookstore I totally didn’t need, nor really wanted. I got them because I was shopping with a group of coworkers and noticed they were all buying stuff. In my own jaded thinking I felt that if they were buying stuff then I should buy something too. I did return the shirts a few days later.
Today, my girlfriend and I had our first serious discussion about money. We are both young and making good money, but we need to start laying the foundation for what we want our financial future to be. I never want us to have to live paycheck to paycheck.
Pleasure spending always feels great. That’s why the word pleasure is involved. But after the thrill of the purchase wears off all you’re left with is the realization that you spent a lot of money on bunch of nothing.