I know yesterday’s post was largely upbeat (yay for paying down debt, building up savings, and having a positive net worth!) but I have to admit, I haven’t been doing so well this month. I really enjoyed my day in San Francisco and while I went slightly over my budget for the day, I figured it was no big deal. Except, once I started to spend, it was really hard to stop. I haven’t done anything too crazy, but there’s been lots of buying snacks while away from home even though I had trail mix, picking up take out when I had food I could eat, buying fancy ingredients I don’t need, and driving when biking could do just fine. Basically, I blew my savings for the month.
I like to compare the various parts of my life to balls I’m juggling: research, studying, housework, cooking, taking care of my dog, working on the farm, cleaning houses, babysitting, and keeping a balanced budget, not to mention family, friends, church, and, oh yeah, time to myself. Usually I can keep them all in the air and occasionally even pull off a stunt, but once I drop one of those balls, it’s really hard to pick it back up and get back into rhythm. This month, that ball happened to be my budget.
The fact is, I could put less emphasis on savings and paying off debt and have a lot more flexibility for going out or shopping. Heck, a lot people tell me that they went way into credit card debt during grad school on top of student loans. But I don’t want that to be me. I want to prove that you can be a student, pay down debt and put away money into savings. More importantly, I don’t want to finish in 2 to 3 years and be panicked because I don’t have anything to live on while I job hunt, with tons of credit card debt and a student loan. However, at the same time, the thought of several more years of an incredibly pinched life (I spend less on my groceries than food stamp recipients) seems a little bleak.
Any advice from my lovely and wise readers on how to squelch the urge to spend and reconcile myself to such a tight budget?