I recently wrote this rant as a guest blog post for the fantastic site, Pretty Providence, written by two beautiful and passionate girls who adventure through life with a frugally fun mindset. Enjoy “My Monthly Love Letter” and check out their site for freebies!
Budgeting can feel like the same thing as going on a diet. It’s uncomfortable and lets face it, most of the time we are left sinking into our couch, fighting off the cravings to dive into a bath tub of chocolate cake or similarly, we find our eyes popping out of our head as we pass by a pair of must-have strappy summer wedges.
But we do it, because we have no choice! It’s survival of the fittest, my friends, and the same applies for our wallets.
If you ever want to see me get all clammy and awkward, talk to me about money.
When the bill slides across the stained tablecloth on a first date, when a job asks how much money I “want” to be paid, when it comes time to pay my rent, I get all squirmy chasing the experience by changing the subject while getting red hot in the face.
Money complicates things. It can make us feel separated, divided, not good enough and forced to adopt a life of ramen noodles, mooching off of the free Wi-Fi from local cafes.
Four months ago I stuffed my belongings in two suitcases and moved from sunny side up Florida to the upside-down life in NYC. I was cutting myself off from the sunshine, my home state and painfully, I decided, my parents bank account.
I had enough money in savings from working two years post-grad and was going to be taking home an entry level salary. Basically, I had enough money to front my necessities and live by a slogan I never dared to touch before, “paycheck to paycheck”.
It was right then and it was right there that I decided I need a plan. I would write myself a monthly love letter jotting down and organizing how much money I had to spend juxtaposed with what I spent.
Every month I start off sweet. “Dear Jen, you wonderful, talented, and brave girl, this month you have worked hard for your money and have x amount to spend.”
From there I get down to the nitty gritty. I automatically subtract my monthly necessities: rent, cable and electricity (an estimated amount since it varies by month), insurance, transportation (subway, gas money, taxis), etc.
I take the amount I have left I then make it a little skinnier by subtracting other essentials for the month such as grocery bills, a budgeted amount for nights out on the weekend, and things like shampoo.
The number I’m left with is used to squeeze in those little temptations that come dancing into our lives via text messages from friends, offers from daily deals sites, or to just pay for sudden splurges that arrive in our lives in the form of clearance racks at our favorite stores.
This monthly love letter allows me to control my spending and leaves me feeling accountable for my actions and my pennies at the end of the month.
A few days ago, I held my once-a month-paycheck in my clammy palms and imagined all the things I could do with the money. A grandiose trip to emerge in the rainforests of Costa Rica, a cross-country camping trip to sleep in the wet grass of different cities—high fiving “Welcome to..” signs as I come and as I go, even a magenta pair of platform blistery wedges, perhaps. But then I cashed the check because rents due and I need to eat this month. And here I am, left with a dashing imagination and the jingles of misplaced coins, but it’s worth it. I know that it is.
About the author: Jen Glantz is a 20-something crawling the streets of NYC. You can find her in a tutu and converse, surrounded by overdue library books, pizza crust and the spontaneous combustion of laughter that often shoots the chocolate milk right out of her nostrils. Read and relate to her through her blog: www.Thethingsilearnedfrom.com and follow her on twitter: @tthingsilearned.