Adulting: You Need A Budget.

“Girl, I know.”
I’ve been trying to get more serious about my finances. I’ve always been pretty frugal overall. Somehow, I was still able to get my hands on free stuff, but I knew there was more to money than just not buying things.

Part one. I learned in college that cheaper isn’t always better.
There was a particular lotion that I used to use. It worked so well on me. I really wanted to save money, so I got the knock-off brand. Broke out into a rash and returned that lotion. No more shortcuts for me!

Part two. What am I saving for?
I so didn’t like to spend money that I would allow the buttons on my shirt to fall off, my jeans to rip and my shoes to talk before I would even think about purchasing new clothes. It usually took until someone yelled at me before you saw anything new in my closet.

Part three. Minimalism Rocks.
Last year, I cleaned my room with the KonMari method. I was able to see what I needed and what I wanted. The more space I made, the more I was able to determine what was required. I avoided specific two for one sales, especially if I knew I didn’t need those items at all. The goal is to get clothes that will last for years, or when it’s time to donate, the receiver would be able to wear it for as long as they need to.
I learned that less is more. And I realized that I just didn’t need more stuff.
But despite all my lessons, I wanted to grow some money. I started following the “Financial Diet,” I read “You are a Badass at Making Money,” I looked up tips from Tiffany the Budgetnista, Dave Ramsey, and some others. I was disappointed to find out that some of their suggestions I was already doing…except the most important one that they all screamed in my face- “SIS, YOU NEED A BUDGET!”

“NO,” I’d shout back, “YOU NEED A BUDGET!”
“Alright, Kou,” the Financial Diet stepped forward.
“We’ll try something else,” Jen Sincero said.
“…For now…” warned The Budgetnista.
“But do NOT forget,” said Dave Ramsey.
“YOU. NEED. A. BUDGET!!!!!” They shouted in unison.
Massaging my earlobes, I sighed, “Alright. We’ll discuss it later.”

I remember my brother suggesting years ago that I should take out a certain amount of cash per week as spending money. I thought it was a great idea that I decided to do during my year of unemployment.

I would place all my coins in a jar until I heard a representative from The Financial Diet suggest that every five dollar bill you get back you should save. So in a jar, the bills went with the loose change.

Some months later, I did some deep soul searching about what I wanted as a career. I realized that I was about to give up a job with benefits. One of them being a 401K plan that would have been the key to me having a steady normal life. Then I realized, I wasn’t normal. So I decided to use all my fives and change to open a Roth IRA. That was my adulting win.

…But of course, I still need a budget.

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Spiritual Talk: Suddenly September

Ack! It’s September! When did you get here? This year went by so fast like every other year and I must confess, I THINK I accomplished what I wanted for this year. I’m not sure. I thought I had New Year’s Resolutions but to be honest I don’t remember doing it. But I do remember wanted to start this year all extra fresh.

Like last year, I made a commitment to work on myself by being mindful of my time, embrace better money management, and I guess you can say, get my life together. Another thing I was focused on was doing more of what made me feel alive and being honest with myself about what does without overthinking if I would ever make money off it. During this walk, someone told me to stop looking at the big picture and make those small steps daily. Now, I know this person was not telling me to stop dreaming big but this person recognized how much stress I was putting on myself for the little things. I think of the Bible verse that says “do not despise meager beginnings” and to be honest the last years had been full of meager beginnings which could be frustrating for someone who wants to make the most out of life.
The Word says that God will never leave you or forsake you…it’s taking some time but it’s becoming more and more true in my life. In journaling, I recognized that God is a comforter and omniscient. He knew every situation I was in. There has been a worship night I attended a few months back. A woman around my age walked up to me. She placed my hand on my shoulder and prayed everything that I’ve been praying for weeks in my private time with God. I was moved because at that moment I remember that God is with me and He hears me.
It’s suddenly September. The leaves are changing color and my life is changing. I’m in a much better place than I’ve been in years. I sense myself becoming my best friend and drawing closer to God, which is always a hope for me each year. Well, not actually becoming my best friend because for the longest time I was hard on myself for not being “normal” or like everyone else.
I became fascinated with people who got up and did things. That looked at something, though it was cool and kept doing it until the finances flowed or their name became great or until they became highly connected. That’s what I hope for in this journey. Someone told me that, “I’m always looking.” I guess, but I want to change that to “I’m always experiencing.”
One of my current favorite cartoons, Steven Universe, had an episode when Steven and his “best friend” (future girlfriend but I digress), Connie fused into one being. The being was named Stevonnie. Stevonnie was filled with excitement. They ran to meet the gems and one, in particular, told them, “You are an experience.” For me, that almost gave me permission to just experience.
One day last year I was mediating asking God about my situation. I heard the words, “I want you to be more present.” From then on I’ve been striving to be more present. It’s been a beautiful journey.
So going back to New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps it was to be more present, experience more and learn what it means to live life fully and abundantly. This time it means to be free. This time it means to cherish and be grateful for every moment. It means to be honest with God and myself.

Adulting: Groceries and Let’s Be Frugal

Which is better? I wondered with a friend. Eating out for free or buying groceries? I love the freedom of  not having to buy anything throughout the week, but I admit I cringe while grocery shopping. Some stores do not have the variety, and some stores claim to be cheaper, but I see similar prices. What store is better on gas? What store will give me gas points? Prices are rising, and my paychecks are few and far in between. But there is an isle that’s beauty is more radiant than the morning sun shining off the grass’s dew.

It’s the reduced-price section. Every time I go to Stop and Shop I search for this section like it’s buried treasure. Well, in many ways it is treasure. One day I found my favorite cereal for $2.49 in this section. Sure, the box took a beating, but I was not going to let that stop me from having something to eat in the morning! The original price is $4.99 plus tax because here in Rhode Island we tax food.

After that experience, I vowed to always slip through the reduced-price section of Stop and Shop. My friend also told me about deals one can get when you download the app.
But I know, I still need a budget.