Financial health is important too

If there is one thing in my life that I let bother me a little too much at times, it is our current financial situation. Luckily, my husband is a rock and always tells me “everything will be okay” and I’m finally starting to believe him :)

In fact, we are doing much better than when we first got started together 4 years ago. We’ve payed off one car (2nd one will be in November), settled all of his credit card debt and consolidated mine, and we’ve managed to keep a budget so that we are able to pay all of our bills on time and still have a little bit of fun here and there.

But we have no savings!!

For people who want to buy a house and raise children someday this is just not acceptable. Not to mention dangerous because we all know those “emergencies” (i.e. broken down car) are going to happen, it is inevitable. Unfortunately when this has happened in the past, we’ve had to rely on money borrowed from our parents and/or credit, eek!

One day I finally thought to myself…”If I could be as disciplined with my finances as I am with my healthy eating / exercising, we’d be in good shape.”

This past week, we were on a tight budget at the grocery store. We managed to get everything we needed for the week for $35 when we usually spend $50-70/week on average. What I did was write out exactly how many meals/snacks I needed and then went from there. No extras. I even bought shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent and dryer sheets because we actually needed them. So really, we spent less than $30 on food items!

So, I said “Why can’t we shop like we’re broke every week?” Ah ha! Total light bulb moment.

Then today I saw a comment from Kath on Twitter about budgeting and she referred me to SELF’s “Save Like Me” blog. Let’s just say I have been taking notes!

When a person first begins a new healthier lifestyle, they may list some behaviors that they want to start adopting to help keep them on track: drink more water, exercise 30 minutes a day, take the stairs, etc. So in that same spirit, here are my new steps for the improvement of my financial health:

  1. Only buy what I need at the grocery store each week – This is tough but it is a must and the place I could see the most improvement. Some people buy shoes, I buy too many jars of peanut butter that I don’t need. I need to go with a list and stick to it. Josh has also agreed we can shop more than one place now to get the best deals!
  2. Put at least $10 in savings every pay day and don’t touch it – I can put it in, but it almost always comes out. I’m serious when I tell you there is $0.00 in there as I type this. If I had actually stuck to this, I could’ve had at least $260 in there from last year!
  3. Redefine what counts as a “necessity” - We would all love to have Starbucks every day but it is just not financially responsible. Like the Save Like Me blog writer says “If a designer latte costs about 100 times what it costs you to make a cup of joe at home, think about it: would you pay $1,000 for a pizza?” I believe this should also apply to dining out…sometimes I feel like I’ve paid $10 for something I could’ve made at home for under $5.
  4. Save some fun money – Josh and I have not gotten new shoes, clothes or other things we actually need in ages (hello, a haircut!) because we spend all our money eating out or on other forms of entertainment. We need to establish some sort of fund that will allow us to get what we need when we need it. Did I mention we haven’t gotten each other birthday, Christmas or Anniversary gifts but maybe once since we’ve been married? Yikes.
  5. Realize we are not perfect – This isn’t going to change overnight. It took us years to get where we are now and it’s going to take even more to get to where we want to be. And every now and then we’re going to spend too much on something we shouldn’t. But hopefully through this exercise we will be more conscious of our financial habits and make some healthy changes!

Thanks everyone for reading this non-food/exercise related post! There will be more changes, this is just a start.

Do you have any tips for financial health? I’d love to hear them!

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About Sarah Frankel

I am 29 years old and a resident of Louisville, Kentucky. I've been married to my husband Josh for 6 years and we have a 5 year old beagle named Suzie. Four years ago, I changed my eating and exercise habits, dropping 70 pounds and gaining an entirely new life. I took up running in September 2007 and became vegan in October 2009. I am constantly striving to improve my life so that I can live it to the fullest! I hope you will join me on my life journey.

Posted on July 20, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. My biggest suggestion is just to make sure you’re saving – it’s so important to have that cushion. We use ING so it’s not tied to our checking account but it’s still easy to transfer to and from!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I could have written your words myself because I’m in a similar situation and truly feel the exact same way. I’m hoping to pay off both my credit cards next month and start saving (I don’t have a cushion either, which makes me really nervous!) I don’t have any further advice at this time, but I wanted to comment to let you know how much your post touched me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. xx– Another Sarah!

    • Yay, another Sarah! I’m glad to know I’m not alone. We are about to pay off another car and can start putting that payment into savings but that’s not until November and I worry that if our behaviors don’t change, it won’t really matter. Thanks, love the name of your blog! :)

  3. I also do not have a cushion and it’s not because of lack of trying. When it comes to budgeting, I am very good. I sit there with Calenders for the next few montha and write down what every paycheck will be used for but everytime I seem to save, something happens and I have to use it (Car repairs etc)…

    Thanks for all the tips =)

  4. Thank you for these tips!!
    Hopefully my budget will go down..my parents don’t like how much I spend every week haha

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