I only spend money that I already have.  The idea of debt freaks me out because it controls you and all of your decisions.  One of my 2015 New Year’s resolutions was to get serious about saving money and identify habits and thought processes that were keeping me from reaching my financial goals.  These are the things that I knew I had to change:

  • Comparing myself to others.  I love social media because I get to keep up with old friends, but when I’m on social media I forget to own my story of where I am right now.  I begin to compare myself to what my friends have.  I see them buying houses, cars, going on trips…and then I want those things too or I wonder why and how they are able to do that.
  • Kick my coffee habit.   During college I never drank coffee and a “coffee date” was not in my vocabulary.  In one of my first jobs after college the company paid for all food expenses.  This amazing perk introduced me to Starbucks coffee.  Everyday for two years I found a Starbucks and got a tall iced caramel macchiato.  This is fine when someone else is paying for it, but I found myself still justifying this purchase after I no longer had this job. I told myself that it was my “me thing” and that I had earned this daily treat.  This daily habit is a pretty expensive one when the drink price raised every year.  My all time favorite drink rings up at $4.06 now!
  • Create boundaries for my fashion obsession.  Working at the GAP was one of my favorite jobs.  It was a part-time job that I picked up to make ends meet when I lived in San Antonio, TX.  It was expensive to live in San Antonio and my husband and I worked our buns off just to make it while he was doing an internship. Luckily for me I got 50% off anything in the GAP store with my employee discount.  Even though we didn’t have a lot that year I styled my family in the cutest clothes and myself too.  The discount taught me I could have quality things for less. With that expectation I’d struggle each month with wanting the latest trends and the money not going as far.
  • Eat at home.  I despise cooking.  Meal prep takes too long and messy kitchens are work. Moving to New Mexico Nick and I were fortunate to both land big kid jobs that gave us extra income that we didn’t have before and it allowed me to be able to go out for every meal.  No joke for 1 year I ate out breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Horrible I know.

Identifying the things that were keeping me from my financial goals meant creating new habits. I knew that doing something different meant giving something up. I also knew that the change could result in a financial transformation that could alter the entire rest of my life in a positive way.  So I started by:

  • Committing to paying off my student loan by July 2015. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel when I saw the balance in January 2015 and committed to paying $500 towards my student loan plus the minimum payment of $75 each month.  I finally feel like I have earned the degree that I was awarded.
  • Bringing my lunch to work and making dinner Monday through Friday beginning August 2015. I bought myself a cute Vera Bradley lunch box to motivate myself to take my lunch to work and found some easy recipes that I wouldn’t become frustrated with.  I gave myself a budget of $100 a week for food and if I spent less than $100 that week I transferred the extra money to my savings account right when I got home from the grocery store. The first two weeks were hard.  I had to control my thoughts as they told me that it would be okay to steer of course just this one time. This is how one must feel when they try to quit smoking! I went from spending $560 a month to spending $232.28 for the month of August.  I saved $327.72 last month just by eating at home!

Money can be such a frustrating thing because you don’t want to deny yourself any of life’s pleasures, but saying no to something now will get you where you want to be in the future.  I want that car, the dream house, to travel and to give to philanthropic causes,  but I know that I won’t be able to if I don’t intentionally manage my money or give into the temptation of the credit card. I say no so later I can tell myself yes.

“Money is one of the most important subjects of your entire life.  Some of life’s greatest enjoyments and most of life’s greatest disappointments stem from your decisions about money.  Whether you experience great peace of mind or constant anxiety will depend on getting your finances under control.” -Robert G. Allen