Pull up to da Club, Gas Tank on E, but all Drinks on Me: Grown A** Budgeting

At this point me and my circle of friends converse about different subjects. Important subjects like finances and budgeting come up often. Why? Because we are twenty somethings deep into our careers and ain’t, I repeat, are not striving to be on the struggle bus. We are striving to be debt free, shine, travel, sparkle, and be happy. On the contrary, I noticed many people in my community get anxious about finances. Yes. I’m talking about money, green, cheese, cheddar, scrilla, bags, ends, funds, young mulla baby, MOB. Here’s the thing, I find, most of us don’t have an income issue. We have income. In fact, I find the bulk of our money woes come from a spending issue. With that, I am listing 6 budgeting tips I used to get to my desired financial goals.

Budget-noun| an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

Testimony:

College might have been the richest time in my life. Refund checks, cafe food, housing that was paid for, old putt putt car with no payment. Taxes? Please. They did not exist. Those were the days. Well, my guy-my girl, those days are over. We are grown af now. With that, our spending habits must change to catch up with the time. For example, in college, I would spend an insane amount on take out food. What was the worry? Today, seeing a fast food sign is an insult to me. I literally think. “Umm humm. The golden arches made out of the french fries. I see it from from a mile away. That’s how they get you. They know I’m hungry too. Morphus get me out of here.” And don’t get me started on how Target will rob you and will make you feel like it was voluntary, but I digress.

Before I got to this:

I had to learn how to grown ass budget, so I can do this:

Break it down, B:

  1. Pay yourself first: Let me begin this tip by saying, I only get paid once a month. Yes, girl, once a month. It took me a while to get used to this, but the schedule has its advantages. The main one is that I can see my spending more closely. If I get to the 15th and I’m broke, I know I did something wrong. When I do get my monthly check. The first thing I do is pay myself. Uncle Sam, Duke Energy, the gas company, Food Lion, Quick Trip, Sally Mae, and my former renters will all get their money eventually, but that first transaction is for me. The first action I take with a new check is moving my desired amount into my savings account. I set a reasonable amount that will help me achieve my goals, and put it right where I can see it shining.
  2. Utilize the Envelope System: I’ve been doing this for a while and actually advance passed using actual envelops, but the idea here is that you take white envelopes and label them accordingly: Groceries, Gas, idk…travel…wine fund… etc. You put the money you intend to spend for the, month or weeks, in the corresponding envelops. When its gone its gone. The idea is that you use the money inside wisely. I have a strict grocery and gas budget for my entire household. Don’t cause us to go over, because now we have a problem. Grrr. Also, I include enough in my gas envelop to go to work and back for the month, some leisure activities, and take two out of town trips. You must be reasonable and make it so the envelops match your lifestyle without getting too crazy.
  3. Eat Out in Moderation: I mean this tip from the bottom of my heart. Limit your eating out. In college, I remember spending like 500 dollars eating out in one month. I don’t know how. I would never do that today, I can tell you that. I’ll give you an even better example. I notice my coworkers eat take out every day. EVERY DAY. They get together and order lunch. Yet, they look shocked when I tell them about my travel experiences and travel plans. In my mind, I’m thinking “You eat your travel money.” Let me break this down, on average they have to be spending 20 a day on lunch…JUST LUNCH…chile my heart is beating fast…LUNCH..ONE MEAL..but I digress. 20 dollars five days a week is 100 dollars. 100 dollars four weeks a month is 400 dollars. My plane ticket and lodging to go to Paris, France was less than that. You know what me and my man eat for lunch? Homemade sandwiches, salads, and left overs if we are feeling fancy. In fact remember the grocery envelope I was discussing earlier? Lunch is included in that. My last point about eating out is this: the amount of money we pay to eat out does not stretch. For example, you may spend 30 on a meal at a restaurant. I can take that same 30 and make spaghetti or peppered steak that will last my house hold three servings. (Dinner, lunch, and Dinner again).
  4. Consider what is important to you and plan accordingly: This tip will look different for everyone, but the gist is you figure out what is important for you to have in your life and plan accordingly. For example, in college I consistently got my nails done. When I realized the money I was spending on my nails was more than a bill and a significant portion of my monthly check, I quickly cut it out because what is important to me is seeing my savings grow instead of seeing my money getting chipped within weeks. Another example, I cut down on eating out because I have more fun traveling the world and creating memories with my man. We don’t eat out often in the states, but when we travel we experience everything. Traveling is important to me. Seeing my savings account grow is important to me. Saving for investment properties and building wealth for posterity is important to me. With that, I make room for what is important, dismiss what is not, and name every dollar in between. These dollars name is savings. These dollars name is baby stuff. These dollars name is new shoes. These dollars names is Italy.
  5. Go out with a purpose. Walmart is another one of those places you can walk in with the purpose of getting a loaf of bread, orange juice, and butter. Then come out with a new home mortgage, a new pair of glasses, pajamas, socks, party sized bag of Doritos, and a cooked rotisserie chicken, and ticket to the next Panther’s game real quick. (Seriously, being able to get all of those things at one store is a problem) The thing is the entire American system is designed for you to spend money. Everywhere you go, you must spend money. You cannot leave the house and not see hundreds of places that want your money and who have hired people to help them get it from you. You think its a coincidence you can smell the cajun season when riding past a Bojangles. Think again. In fact, spending has become a means for entertainment. We don’t need anything other than something to do, but we end up spending money in the process. With that in mind, go out with a purpose. If you need milk, stay focused on the milk, but refrain from stopping at McDonald’s for a fry and nuggets on the way home.
  6. Stay in your financial lane. Social media makes it easy for us to compare lives. Trust me I know. STEM majors out here ballin’ where as us liberal arts civil servant folks pinch pennies like its Saint Patricks Day and we don’t have on green. I get it. I’m guilty of the comparison game. What we can’t let it do, however, is allow what we see happening with other people to pressure us into bad credit because we are trying to keep up with other folks. The idea is insane. I may not be able to do the same things financially my friends in other career fields or friends with less financial obligations. I can, however, enjoy the life I have, be grateful for the income I do have, make smart decisions that will allow me to grow the money I worked for, and do with it what is important to me.

This piece was longer than I intended it to be, but I hope it was helpful. I know life is hard and money talk can cause anxiety and discomfort. Aside from that whoop, we have to do better for our children and generations to come. Nobody knew what to do with money in my house growing up. A lot of time, we don’t have the space to really know because we were surviving. But if we have it and we know better, we can do better. Lastly, budgeting requires discipline. It took years for me to get to the point where I was disciplined enough to not only realize that, but act accordingly. Discipline can be hard, but its the only way we can get ahead. (2 Timothy 1:7) Try it for the babies.

Pay Homage:

“How mama gonna teach you how to save your money
When she barely on the boat got stay afloat money
Blacks always broke cause we don’t know money
Spend it before we get it and could never hold money

J. Cole

Facts:

  1. Working with what you have is possible.
  2. Discipline is a requirement.
  3. Money dreams can come true with time and vision.

Salute:

Thank you for reading!

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