Yesterday, I went on a bit of a spending binge. At least, I definitely felt like I was going out and being “bad” with my finances. I haven’t been shopping for non-necessities since early January, and I have definitely been feeling the pinch. I have a list of things that I want/need to buy when the money comes available (a new cover for my iPod, as the old one has a huge rip in it, a good thermos to bring coffee to work, etc). But I’ve been waiting.
Really, I blame spring for what happened yesterday. I woke up and it was nice out. Really nice. (Ok, so it was humid and then rained, but it was warm at least.) I realized that perhaps the sweater I wanted to wear to work was not so weather appropriate. I also realized that I don’t have a lot of warm weather work clothes.
I decided, therefore, to go shopping at lunch. I’m lucky in that I work in an area with a number of stores within walking distance. I knew that I really didn’t have much of a clothing budget this month, but I felt I needed to buy something to start fleshing out my spring and summer wardrobe.
I ended up coming back after lunch having been to buy clothing, and then to the sporting goods store and also Bed, Bath, and Beyond. No, those last two aren’t places to buy work clothes. And I was feeling like I had really blown the budget. What did I buy?
A very nice knit top in a style that I wear often
A new knee brace for running, something I’ve been looking at for a while
A new soap dish for my shower, since the old one fell and broke last week
A “major” shopping spree, and I came back with things that I needed. Well, I didn’t absolutely need the shirt, but it was not unneeded either. What about the budget? After plugging the expenses into YNAB, I ended up a total of $30 over in a few categories. I’ve already made an extra $18 selling books on half.com, which means I’m $12 over budget. Not bad at all, especially knowing that I intentionally overbudgeted in certain areas.
Of course, this can’t happen all the time, but it made me realize that I can’t keep my budget as incredibly strict as I have been. I can splurge a little bit from time to time, as long as I’m careful to not go overboard.
I think that too many times, we create budgets for ourselves and try to hold ourselves to incredibly strict financial rules. While it is important to save for the future and make smart choices, we also need to reward those decisions in the here and now as well.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.