I Spent All Of My Money, Now What?

When I decided I needed to get serious about my finances, I starting writing everything down. I mean, literally everything. For me, if I don’t look at my spending, I can pretend I’m not spending anything. When I started writing it down, I became unbelievably aware of how much I had been spending. I won’t lie, there was crying sometimes, and then complete panic attacks. When I lived in Maine, I had always been proud of myself and my ability to save my money, but also buy the things and travel to places that I wanted to. There was one giant difference between then and now; I always had roommates to share costs with! I never realized how huge of a difference that was. In my mind, I was making the exact same amount of money in Nashville that I was in Portland, so why couldn’t I put that extra spending money I had in Portland into higher rent in Nashville so that I could live alone? I did not account for that I had to pay 100% of utilities, pay for all the furniture (I did have a good amount given to me though), and anything the house needs.

For you to better understand how I squandered my money, I need to show you the numbers. Keep in mind, these are not the exact number, but the ratio is exact.

When I left Maine I had $10,500 in my savings and $1,500 in my checking, this was October 2017. At the end of May 2018, I had $750 in my savings and $225 is my checking. In only about 6 months, I spent 93% of my savings. What did I spend it on? Clothes, furniture, travel, electronics, you name it.

The worst part is that the first 3 months I was living in Nashville I was actually living at my dad’s. I wasn’t living there for free, he actually charged me $750/month, but still. I had a job that I was making on average $2,500/month and my bills only accounted for $1,400 of what was taken out of that each month. In those 3 months I was living with my dad, I did not put anything into my savings. I was spending the remaining $900 from my income each month and then some.

When I decided to move out of my dad’s house and get my own apartment, I requested more hours at work, which increased my monthly income to about $3,150. The rent for my 1 bedroom apartment is $1,650. When I include the rest of my monthly bills, it is a collective $2,590 that I HAVE to spend each month. With that remaining $560, about $150 goes to gas, $240 goes to groceries, and another $240 goes to miscellaneous things. With basic math you can see each month I spend about $3,220. I spend roughly $70 more than I take in.

That was a lot of numbers, I know. I’m a Type A personality so naturally I had to break this down even more. I made a nice little table of all my spending.

Rent

1,650

Renters Insurance

35

Car Payment

255

Car Insurance

120

Wifi

60

Cell Phone

140

Utilities

90

Credit Card #1

50

Credit Card #2

50

Credit Card #3

50

Gym Membership

90

Gas

150

Groceries

240

Miscellaneous

240

A couple of items that you might have seen on that list is that I have 3 credit cards that I pay the minimum payment on. Yes, I know, 3 credit cards is ridiculous. It really only breaks down to I was desperate enough for money enough times that I kept signing up for more credit cards. I was dumb. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I am fighting my way to make smarter choices and that can come with making some mistakes. Any who, more on those credit cards at another time.

Obviously, many of those bills prices are what they are, and I just need to pay them every month. When I was looking on ways to cut down, there were really only 2 major things that I could change immediately:

1. Give myself a very strict miscellaneous allowance each week.

2. Get rid of that ridiculous gym membership.

When I was going over my monthly expenses, I was spending a lot on miscellaneous things; clothes, food, make up (which I never wear), and things for my apartment. This was mostly happening on my days off from work. Because I was new to the area, the only thing I could always count on being there was the mall.

So I set my weekly miscellaneous spending to $35.00. What I quickly learned was that it was extremely easy to spend $35.00 in one week. But I do it every week. Sometimes I am even under my budget. A lot of people would roll the remaining amount to the next week, but I decided that every month that I have remaining spending money, I would split it up and put it towards my credit cards.

I also decided to limit my grocery spending. Each week I would only spend $30.00 on groceries. Before, I was making all of my meals at home to try to be healthier, which is great and all until you realize it can sometimes get pretty expensive. I work at a restaurant, but I was bringing my lunch. I get free lunch at work! So obviously spending money on lunch items was the first to go. I also decided to switch from buying fresh produce to buying frozen. To me, vegetables are vegetables, I’m going to hate them either way!

This was all just a quick breakdown of what my expenses are and how I’m trying to reduce my spending in the major areas. There is much more to come on how to live comfortably when you are broke!