Staying on Track with Time and Money

Howdy! Over the years, I’ve had people comment positively on my money habits. After talking to a coworker the other day about finances, I had the idea to share what I do with others. Beyond that, though, I’ve been doing my best to be more on top of my time and making sure I’m getting things accomplished. Today, I wanted to share what I’ve been doing in hopes that it will help others get on track or stay there.

I’m a big time list maker and find myself making to-do lists for things to accomplish short-term, things to accomplish long-term, what to buy, and whatever else I can make a list for that eases my racing brain. Rather than have a million scribbled on receipt papers from work, I decided to bust out the ol’ paper planner. To really stay on top of things, I’ve listed goals for the month, goals for each week, and things my money will have to be spent on. To prioritize, I drew squares to later be checked off next to the high priority items and triangles next to the things that aren’t as critical. This way, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can easily see what I really need to focus on. Of course, since it’s me, I used different color pens to signify different things, like monthly goals, weekly goals, work and school schedules, homework, exercise, money, and social time. I made sure not to schedule something for every moment of every day because that’s a quick way for me to get burned out. Things that have to be accomplished on a certain date are scheduled, but everything else under my weekly goals is just to be done when I have time and motivation. So far, I’m doing okay.

With the planner, comes doing my best to budget financially. I have the best intentions to stay within a certain amount, but I’ll be honest and admit that it’s difficult and I’m definitely not perfect. I have a very all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to time and money. I’m working on that. I’m reminding myself that I don’t need to buy 10 cookbooks all at once or everything on my list of things I’d like to add to my wardrobe. One here or there is satisfactory. It’s really making me work on prioritizing. I don’t love it, honestly, but it’s good for me. Baby steps.

Besides budgeting, I always keep a standard amount in my checking account. In my eyes, that amount means the same as $0. In addition to that set amount, I will sometimes have extra in there for a haircut. Yes, I put money aside, about $10 every two weeks, for a haircut. Once I reach the cost of a haircut, I stop putting aside the money. Simple. I personally hate needing to spend money on maintenance, so I lighten the blow by making sure that money is set aside and available when I need it. Supposedly, people should get their hair cut every 6 weeks, but I have it set up to have the money in there after 12 weeks from my most recent salon visit. I honestly go more like every 6 months, but the money’s there and something I don’t have to worry about.

Another thing I do is have money automatically transferred to savings weekly. I get paid biweekly, so I make sure to leave extra in my checking account to be transferred over on the weeks I don’t get paid. I have 3 savings account. One is for car expenses, another is for school expenses, and the last one is for fun, essentially. When I had a car payment, I calculated how much I’d be spending yearly for the payment, insurance, and registration combined and then divided it by 52 to know how much to put aside weekly. I threw in a little extra because cars unfortunately need maintenance. I also bought a used car that didn’t have a crazy monthly payment. I personally don’t see the point of buying a brand new car only to have it depreciate as soon as you drive it off the lot. Plus, car payment or not, they require upkeep and that’s never cheap. I wanted less financial stress. I remember hearing people talk about how they wouldn’t have any money for a week because their car payment was due. I really didn’t like the idea of being broke for a week or more, so I opted to calculate the weekly cost of big things and set aside part of my paycheck for them regularly. It’s worked wonderfully.

Fortunately, I paid off my car right before I started at a university. The money I was putting aside for my car payment then got switched to going towards school expenses. Now that I don’t have anymore classes that will need to be paid for, a portion of that money is going towards paying down my student loans while they’re not gaining interest. Money for my phone bill also gets put into my school savings account. Whenever an expense or bill comes up, I just transfer the money out of savings into checking and pay it. Easy peasy. Don’t have to worry about where the money is coming from.

Now, my last savings account I opened more recently. The purpose of this one is really for whatever I need it to be for. It can be travel, unforeseen expenses, or whatever else. I use my credit cards for everything. I also always make more than the minimum payment because I used to put everything I had left over from my paycheck towards them. Now that they’re at a very manageable and easy to pay off place, I’ll pay them off every 2 weeks and whatever is left over in my checking will be put into my fun savings. This allows for some wiggle room in my budget in case I want to go a little crazier one week. It just means less will be put into savings and that’s perfectly fine. This used to be my overall go-to method, but stopped when I bought my car five years ago. I’m really working on getting back to saving the excess and actually having excess.

I know I don’t have many expenses, which makes staying on top of my finances much easier. Hopefully, though, something in here can be beneficial to someone.

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