This weekend, I bought a replacement watch strap at Target for my Timex Weekender watch. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal until I tell you that it is the 12th one I’ve bought. I have every color band that Target sells for that watch. (Although technically, I only have 11. I had to give one to Emily who was peeved that I had told the world in the blog two weeks ago that she was out of town on vacation, thus indicating to criminals that her home was ripe for burglary. Even though I pointed out that we probably have no more than four readers on a good week, I felt some sort of appeasement was necessary. So I gave her my navy watchband and then bought another one for myself.)
This is not as much a digression as it seems. Our task for this week was to create a budget to save more and spend less.
While we may argue that money can’t buy happiness, we do know that a certain amount of financial security does contribute to that state. And since the Self-Improvers have all decided to work in education, we know that our salaries alone will not provide that security if we don’t learn to budget.
If this is the first time you’ve thought of setting up a budget, here’s a simple guide to help.
Now for our reports:
Emily (who was not eaten by a bear and just returned from vacation): “Just saw that like 5 minutes ago. I opt out. Eric has been upping his 401k though. Does that count? We’re upping it until we notice the missing money.”
Colette: “This week’s task was right up my alley. Since moving recently to Nashville, I spent a hunk of time being unemployed, and living off of the unused sick and vacation days from my previous job. Needless to say, I’ve been poor lately. Since grappling with the concept of getting my financial house in order, I’ve learned a great deal about “want” and “need” and living simply. I probably have felt sorry for myself, like when I had to give up Starbucks and going to the dentist, more than Thoreau did when he went to Walden Pond, but I’m happy to say I have learned to simplify. I am now, happily, employed at NSCC and figuring out what my new budget will be. This is the lowest paying job I have ever had (no offense NSCC) so I’m pretty sure I still can’t have a Starbucks everyday, but I can go to the dentist, if anyone knows a good one to recommend.”
Pam: “I am wordless. I failed. One can’t put oneself on much of a budget when they’ve tried their whole lives to be frugal. It’s boring to even try to do much with so little. My challenge is to try to increase my income $350 a week. I spoke with someone yesterday who advised I advertise banjo lessons at the local church in Joelton. I am planning on making some little banjo signs and using my network of friends to increase my income in this way. Also, a friend suggested I travel to people’s homes and teach them. I like this idea and have often thought of having a traveling “Pam’s Pickn’ Parlor” service. So, at a time when I am challenged by this week’s task to set myself up on a tighter budget–I am, instead, turning this task into how to bring in more income! Amazing the creative ideas that come when you open your mind to the need.”
Jolly Librarian: Despite my bizarre watchband spending habits, in general, I am pretty good at controlling spending. I usually come in under budget each month. But I could do better, especially with putting money in an IRA instead of on my wrist. I do try to automate a savings plan, so money goes straight to my savings and 401K so that I don’t have a chance to put my hands on it. I am also trying to do better about budgeting by using Mint.com. If nothing else, those little email reminders that I’ve overspent my budget on watch bands keep me mindful of what I’m trying to do.
Emily: B. She didn’t do the assignment, but no one should have to do a budget the day after returning from a vacation.
Colette: A. She gets extra points for being literary.
Pam: A. Making more money is certainly acceptable!
Jolly Librarian: A. A few points off for excessive watchband buying, but, in general, a solid track record in this area.