Bad with Money – Help Me Budget

posted 4 months ago in Finances
Post # 16
152 posts
Blushing bee

DAVE RAMSEY – The Total Money Makeover and his podcast is great too.  He gives step by step instructions for how to effectively take control of your financial health.  We’ve been hooked for a few months and super motivated to pay off our house asap.

Post # 20
332 posts
Helper bee

Ok I see a pattern here:

$300 gift for a friend’s wedding 

Charity: $71 (budget is $30, gave to additional causes)

Gifts: $180 ($80 engagement gift, $40 housewarming, $60 towards part of a wedding present – will be buying rest later)

Boyfriend’s birthday present (yes, overkill, but put the deposit down in May): $700
Dad’s birthday Present: $120


This is from 3 different posts. You clearly feel like you need to spend a lot for your loved ones. I understand that you want to be generous but as PP said, there are other ways to give.


Bee, that’s 1371$ you spent on gifts. That’s more than your monthly mortgage.

Post # 21
351 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

I stopped reading after I saw how much your mortgage was. Ive got to move out of California 😭

Post # 22
2510 posts
Sugar bee

minnewanka :  In your case, I’d go cash budget and chip away at the card. You need to get out of the habit of relying on credit. Any future windfalls go first to paying off the card, and then the student loan. 

If your dad is still willing to pay you the difference in the money you lost on the investment he recommended, and if you’d feel okay accepting it, you could pay off the cc immediately. It doesn’t make sense to invest when you have high interest debt (aside from retirement contributions). 

Post # 25
332 posts
Helper bee

I only know what you shared here, but it sounds like you are either afraid that people will like you less if you don’t pay for things, or gifts are a way for you to feel better because you can’t find more time for those people. I also love giving gifts and spoiling my loved ones, so I completely understand where you’re coming from, but it’s important to learn to put your finances first. As for your SO, you need to rethink your activities together so that the costs don’t always fall on you because right now you’re essentially contributing to his savings instead of your own. 

I know it’s hard to change these habits, but keep in mind that being a sensible adult is never cheap. It’s smart.

And to answer your question, I think you should put that credit card away. I personally don’t like cash but those prepaid mastercards are a great alternative wherever debit is not allowed. 

Other bees gave great advice about meal prep and saving accounts, so if you take all this into consideration I’m sure things will change in no time. It’s the mental shift that’s difficult to make, but think of all the benefits and peace of mind you’ll have once you’ll start saving. 

Post # 26
4497 posts
Honey bee

minnewanka :  In an effort to perhaps shift your mentality, I want to address your most recent posts.

1.  Weddings.  No offense to anyone throwing a wedding, but who cares if it’s “expensive” for them to host?  No one forced them to do so and no one should be hosting anything they can’t already afford in the first place.  All that is required for a wedding is whatever paperwork is legally required, an officiant and witnesses as required, and two willing people.  Anything and everything above and beyond that is a deliberate choice because they want it – not because they are doing YOU a favor.  Weddings can be an inexpensive or as expensive as they want and the guests don’t get a say in that.  It is not your responsibility to subsidize their life choices.  You give what you can afford and you need to pay yourself (i.e. savings and retirements) before you figure out what you can afford.  That couple getting married isn’t going to be floating you cash to get by until payday or padding your retirement account for you.  

2.  Enjoy your own company.  It may be questionable whether you can afford some of the things you like to do in the first place (at least for the immediate future), but seriously – learn to enjoy your own company rather than buying tickets for someone who isn’t interested in the first place just so you don’t have to go alone.  If you’re going to a play, are you going to be talking to your boyfriend or watching the play?  It’s okay to do things by yourself.  Whether you’re doing it because you don’t like being alone or you’re afraid of being judged – I assure you the rest of the world just doesn’t give that much of a shit.  I got sick of not going to things (plays, movies, concerts, new restaurants) because I couldn’t find other people interested or we just couldn’t coordinate schedules, so I just started going by myself a lot of the time.  Honestly, it’s been great and when I am not engrossed in my SO or someone I brought with me begrudgingly, I’m more conversant with people around me and I’ve met lots of interesting people and had some fun conversations with people I meet there who like the same things I like because they’re there, too.

3.  If your boyfriend can’t afford the date, you BOTH can’t afford the date.  It’s one thing to treat for a special occasion once in a while, but on the reg?  Then nope.  If he’s cooling off paying for things on date nights because he’s trying to save money, the answer isn’t you just pay instead – it’s that you find cheap date night activities within both of your budgets because it’s not like you’re rolling in it either or don’t have things you’re saving for.  So instead of just doing the same things you always did but with you paying, maybe now date night is picking up a bottle of two-buck chuck and a movie from Redbox or going to the museum or zoo on free admission day or looking for free events happening in your community.  Start thinking of the expensive things you do together as treats, not your norm.

Post # 27
7904 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

minnewanka :  you definitely need to hide your cards and pay cash until you clean up your finances! You make too much money for a single person in a LCOL area to be in debt. 

1. It’s great to be generous but you’re shooting yourself in the foot here. People will still like you if you don’t buy them crap – I promise. 

2. Take your dad up on his offer, pay off the credit cards immediately, and don’t invest in anything again until you have a 3-6 month emergency fund stashed away. 

3. For annual bills I add up the total and divide it into weekly chunks that automatically get transferred from my checking account into an interest-bearing savings account specifically for annual bills so I can pull it when I need it. For me this covers things like car insurance/tax/registration/maintenance, life insurance, estimated home maintenance costs, embryo storage fees, and estimated vet bills. I don’t know exactly what maintenance and vet bills will come up each year, but I know the minimums and I add in a buffer to plan for the unexpected. Tires pop, hot water heaters break, and dogs crack a tooth – these things aren’t emergencies they are inevitable costs that come with owning a car, house, and dog so I plan ahead.

4. Make due with what you have until you get yourself sorted out. I bet last years boots can stretch one more winter and then you’ll have the cash saved up for new boots next year. For expenses like this I actually don’t recommend budgeting it too specifically. My husband and I each have a set amount of money each week for things we want/need and any leftovers we roll into a savings account to save up for larger wants/needs. If I need new boots this week that’s fine, but we’ll do date night at home on the couch. If I spend it all buying lunch at work that’s fine, but I can’t buy that super cute new sweater that’s on sale because I blew my money for the week already. Gifts come from this weekly budget! So do haircuts, manicures, hobbies, Starbucks, dog treats, makeup, clothes, family outings, toys/clothes for our daughter, basically everything that is not a set bill. 

Post # 28
64 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

I completely agree with the pp. I think when determining a budget, it is fine to divide things up into categories (x amount for groceries, y amount for clothes). But then you need to add up all your individual budgets into one yearly budget, and divide that by twelve. Know your bills, treat your savings like another bill, and everything else is discretionary spending. That way, if you want to go over your shoe budget, you need to cut that amount elsewhere. If you want to spend $120 on a new pair of boots, and you have allotted $16 for your shoes this month, you need to find $104 elsewhere in your budget to afford that. Cut out your Starbucks drinks for 26 days (if you spend $4 per day). Or cancel your next two mani/pedis. Give up a couple of date nights. You want those shoes, you’ll have to give up something else and it’s as simple as that. Keeping all your categories so separate is tempting to do what you are already trying to do- use your monthly budget like credit. You want to spend 7-9 months of your shoe budget in advance. That’s not gonna work.

You gave yourself $200 for the entire year and you are already about to spend two thirds to three quarters of your YEARLY budget in the FIRST MONTH! This isn’t realistic. Here’s what will probably end up happening- you find a pair of boots for $120. In a few months, you see a really cute pair of shoes for a super discounted price, you spend $20 on them. No worries, you figure you still have $60 left and you don’t expect to need new shoes for the remaining 8-9 months. But then you get a new dress to attend a friend’s wedding, and realize you really don’t have any shoes that go with it! You find a pair that you decide will work, only $80. Sure, you’ll be over budget, but you promise yourself you’ll cut back somewhere else to make up for it. And you only have 5 more months until your next year’s budget anyway! Then your best pair of work heels breaks, or the dog chews them up, or something else. You really need work shoes. You find some practical ones for $50 more. Etc etc. By the time you finish out the year, you’ve already spent another six months worth in advance. 

The thing is, you won’t classify your later shoe purchases as part of the original budget, you’ll justify them. The wedding shoes were an unfortunate overage, but what were you going to do- wear the ugly shoes that didn’t go at all? And then your heels broke, that was definitely an emergency, how could you know they would break? If you hadn’t had that wedding to go to, and your shoes stayed in good condition, you’d be fine! Or at least that’s how you feel.

Let me paint you another hypothetical picture. You come up with a yearly gift budget you think you can manage. You decide that the $700+ you spent on your boyfriend was a tad excessive, but you also love spoiling your loved ones, so you decide $500 for his birthday for next year is plenty, but still realistic- you know you can spoil him with that! You also add in gifts for all your family members, the three (!!!) weddings you know you’ll be attending next year, Christmas presents, and even a little extra because you anticipate there might be some extra unexpected events. You total it up and find that you’ve got about $2,500 for the year. That’s over $200 per month, not bad right? Some months you won’t even HAVE a wedding or birthday to contribute to.  Sweet!! You start out strong- buying small gifts occasionally, but nothing crazy. You chip in $30 at the office for Jenn’s retirement gift. You feel so proud- the old you would have given at least $40!! You’re not even close to the $200 budget. You go out with co-workers for a birthday lunch and pay for her food and drinks the next month. Still only another $40 (you count your own food and drinks in your food budget, of course). You realize you forgot about Valentine’s Day when making your original budget, but it’s no big deal- you’ve only spent $80 out of $400 and there’s nothing coming up in March, so you splurge. Your boyfriend is still trying to save so you treat him to a lovely dinner out and a show. About $120 for the dinner and $200 for tickets for two people. You decide that the $120 was for food/going out and the play tickets were from your entertainment budget. You buy sexy new lingerie (using your clothing budget, of course). You go for a manicure and get your hair done as well. You get him a card and a nice watch, he loves watches and it’s only $300. Etc etc. But the thing is, you’re blowing your other budgets too. When you made your food/going out budgets, you didn’t think about taking co-workers out for lunch or paying for a Valentine’s Day date. You tell yourself these are “special occasions” and “exceptions” and you pony up the money. You didn’t think about buying lingerie when you made your clothing budget, but you want to look sexy- for him and for yourself- this is worth it, just this time. You’ll be “good” the rest of the year. You forget about the hair/manicure as well. So in your mind, you’ve been good with the gifts! It was only $80 plus the $300 watch. Right on budget! Completely ignoring the fact that you actually spent around $700 on Valentine’s-related purchases, and $100 on co-workers. In two months. Then you get invited to two weddings more than you knew about (family weddings, so you can’t turn them down, and you already committed to your friends weddings, and what are you going to do, go without a gift??). Then, in a fit of generosity, you and several close friends decide to host an engagement party for one of your mutual friends. Your cousin cries to you that she feels unloved because all her friends have other stuff going on, you feel bad and throw her a surprise bridal shower. You get her an extra nice gift! There are countless more office events, baby showers, housewarming parties, etc that you didn’t plan for but dutifully attend. Your boyfriend seems extra stressed due to work and bills, so you plan a surprise getaway vacation for the two of you. It ends up running you way more than $500 after you pay for the hotel, food, drinks, activities, transportation, tips, etc for the weekend. By the end of the year, you blew you budget out of the water. You spent more like $6,000, not the $2,500 you figured would be more than enough. And so on and so forth.

Budgeting is about setting boundaries and sticking to them. If you have a $300 budget for food, you probably can’t afford to take your sister out for drinks after her boyfriend dumps her. You have to say no- not to her, but to yourself. The things that you think are emergencies or unavoidable are really not. You can stretch the shoes you already have for another year or buy some secondhand this time. If you want to have money leftover, you have to realize you really don’t have the money to spend right now. Don’t talk yourself into purchases. You can make do! Once you realize that, it gets soooooo much easier.

So my advice is several parts-

1. Revisit your budget and be realistic- don’t think ideally what you can do, think of what you actually will do

2. Do not buy the shoes right now. Either make do, buy used ($16) or actually cut something this very month to pay for them. Don’t give yourself an “advance”- it will not work!!!

3. Stick to your final budget no matter what. Be very strict with yourself. Don’t make exceptions (unless it is an ACTUAL emergency- and even then, you should have an emergency budget for things. If you go over your emergency budget, you will have to make sacrifices elsewhere to cover the emergency expenses) Do NOT go over. I don’t care if you spent your whole food budget for the month and it’s the last day of the month, so tomorrow you have another x dollars for food- don’t order pizza, don’t go out, you spent all the money so that means you get to have cereal or a sandwich for dinner. I am sure you have something in your pantry. 

4. If you know one month you will go over, save up. If you don’t buy any shoes at all for the next nine months, you can buy those boots you want right now next year, with money you have already set aside for just such a purpose.

Edited because I felt my comment was useful but a bit unclear- I did change quite a bit of how I said things but the gist is the same!

Post # 29
929 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: City, State

You aren’t bad with money- you make too little for the bills you have.  Any budget you put together has to be realistic, but I think right now you need to rethink both ends, earning & spending.

A net monthly income of $5,000 can’t support $3800 in relatively fixed expenses.  A healthy savings rate of 20% brings your “spendable” income down to $4000. Of course, you’re in the red each month. Transportation costs,  healthcare costs, gifts, charity, clothes, entertainment, etc… will all bust your budget based on what you’ve shown here.  

Let’s automatically give you a 10% savings rate.  You’ve got $4500 coming in and $3800+ of set bills, with another $2100+ of CC debt to service.  That’s $700 of money for the month.  If you only pay $200 per month on the cc, you have $500 to spend.  Can you eat, gift, shop, party and entertain on $125  per week?  I doubt it. You also don’t have to.

If you like your lifestyle and you don’t really want to reduce your expenses, it’s time to look at earning more.  Is it possible for you to freelance? Can you tutor, coach, organize something?  What do you have to do at work to get the other contract? Are you good at any tasks other people hate?  If you made 1k extra a month, you’d have less time to spend, and more money to live the life you currently lead. 

 You aren’t bad with money. Your expenses are too high for what you make. There’s no way to stretch $700/ mo to go as far as you want it to go. 

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