Personal Finance

Every year for the past few years I’ve said it: next year I will save more money.

Then things come up: travel, birthdays, gifts, sales. 2011 was a financial success in that I acquired the discipline to never carry over a balance on the 2 credit cards that I use. While this saves me financing charges, I find a lot of my paycheck goes towards keeping my balance at 0. Though I fully intend to give long term savings my best in 2012, I think it would be prudent to put some measures in place. Such as switching part of my direct deposit to my ING savings account, which I did this morning effective next pay day of Jan 7th.

But let’s face it – I’m a 20-something year old female living in New York City with a healthy taste for dining out and a mild shopping addiction. What needs to be addressed, and changed, is really the spending and not the allocation of pay. I need to give myself an imaginary expense, like rent or something of that sort. Living at home has saved me a lot of money and at the same time made it easier to not save money.

Another issue is my part time job at J.Crew. It earns me extra cash, but net I spend more there than I earn. It has become almost an excuse to blow money on clothes because I get them at such discounted prices. When I said to KL over the weekend that I’d cut my spending on clothing to $500 a month, he looked at me bewildered and reminded me that most people go whole months without buying a single new article of clothing. And that’s when it hit me – I’m not sure that I could go an entire month without. And that scared me a little. So to start myself off with a more realistic goal, no more than 3 new additions to my wardrobe per month in the first quarter of 2012. As I finished typing that sentence I wondered in my head “what about after Christmas sales?” Well, I’ve got to try.

One new behavior I’ve always dabbled in and more fully adopted in December is bringing my lunch to work. My mom would pack me leftovers 3 days out of the week, and I’d go down to the nearest Hale & Hearty Soup the other 2 days. But this month has seen more trips to the supermarket. 89 cent yogurts for breakfast and $4 lean cuisines for lunch can really add up to a lot of savings. Lean Cuisines make the foodie in me cry but lunch in midtown doesn’t get too glam, and I should save my funds for sit down meals where I’m not at risk of having to throw on my name tag any given minute to help out when it gets too busy anyway. At least I’m getting the nutrients I need to make it to dinner.

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