Saturday, January 7, 2017
Real Talk About Spending
First off, I'd like to thank all those from the bottom of my heart who read and commented on my Real Talk About Health And Body Image post. I read and thoroughly appreciated all your responses. I'm realizing that health and body images are concerns that everyone can relate to, regardless of their size.
In the continued vein of honesty and transparency, I'd like to discuss another sticky topic: spending habits.
Most of you know that I love shopping. I enjoy sharing my finds here and on social media. I do tend to make purchases on a regular basis, so maybe some of you have wondered "How does she afford all of this?" Maybe some of you have even thrown a little side eye at my expenditures. I wouldn't really blame you; there can be a fine line between sharing about a good deal and coming across as bragging, but I assure you that the latter has never been my intention.
I've actually never had a lot of money to work with when it comes to shopping. I'd consider myself something of a bargainista. I never pay full price for anything and believe in getting a lot for my money. I also love the thrill of the bargain hunt!
I've loved shopping since I was a little girl but I didn't get to do it as much as I would like because my family was low income. It did instill a few habits in me, such as an inherent disgust for overpriced items and the ability to find treasures amongst all the trash at thrift stores and flea markets. I certainly know how to compare prices at the grocery store, find a nice pair of shoes for $3, and take advantage of sale and coupon combos, but somehow along the way I never managed to learn other important financial skills such as making a budget or not getting into debt. Nor have I bothered to learn them now.
I find myself in something of a feast or famine cycle as an adult; when I don't have extra money I can control my spending if I have to and only get the necessities but feel deprived.Therefore when I do have some disposable income to work with I tend to spend, spend, spend. I try to only get things I think are a "good deal," but a lot of little purchases add up to a big amount. Even if it doesn't cause a problem financially, I inevitably end up feeling guilty about it and am stuck in this cycle of the rush of buying something I want followed by the anxiety of spending when it would be best to save.
My husband and I would ultimately love to save up for a down payment on a home of our own, but I can't say that we've done well in the saving process. There have been times that we have been growing a decent savings and some expenses always seem to come up that depletes it. In the last several months we've been feeling rather discouraged financially and haven't been making much of an effort to save.
The other main issue we have is debt. Basically everything nice we have is purchased on credit: our car, our electronics, basically everything that we wouldn't be able to afford without it. I've heard warnings over and over again: don't get deep into debt and don't run up credit cards, but it's definitely easier said than done. To be fair, none of the credit cards are in my name and while I do have access to them, I would say 70-80% of the debt was not my doing. Some of the cards and debt were my husband's before we were even married and while we have actually paid off a card in full on at least 3 separate occasions, they inevitably get run back up again. I have suggested storing the ones we paid off away, or even closing them and cutting them up, but hubby doesn't care for that idea. He seems to believe that closing a line of credit can actually hurt your credit and that we also need to keep them in case of "emergencies." While there have been some legitimate emergencies it's been handy to have a credit card for, more often than not it ends up being just wants that we may not have the cash on hand for. Several smaller credit card payments can really add up to be a big chunk of the paycheck and make it more difficult for everyday living and to save for long terms goals.
I guess what I'd like to do is set some small but manageable goals to evaluate our spending, get a handle on our monthly expenses and consistently put some money away for the future. Unfortunately I really haven't a clue how to go about this. I haven't really asked for advice from family or fringe because money discussions can be so tricky and I don't want to feel judged as irresponsible. Plus I don't really know anyone I would consider an authority on the subject; most of our immediate family is in the same boat as us.
I don't have any idea of how to go about contacting a financial professional or what costs may be included in those services, so that concerns me.
The DIY approach through books and online resources appeals to me most, but I worry that I would not be self motivated and disciplined enough to stick with a financial plan or even get one started. I have pinned several links about budgeting tips and haven't ventured to open a single one of them. I honestly fear opening the whole can of worms, and then even if I do suggest some ideas I'd have to get my hubby on the same page. The mere thought of all the work that would go into getting a solid financial plan in place really stresses me out. So here I sit, blogging and procrastinating about instead.
The one thing I have decided to do is not make any unnecessary purchases is January. I am hoping this will give me the opportunity to evaluate my financial priorities and finally gain some traction.
The first week of my no buy has gone well; I will be discussing that in a later post.
My questions to anyone that may be reading this are these: do you have a budget, savings, or any other financial plan in place that works for you? Any advice or links to resources you might have would be much appreciated! If you have similar difficulties as me, I'd love to commiserate about that too. Thanks for taking the time to read!