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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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.

Adulting: Networking.

I enjoy talking to people, but so quickly I get bombarded with boring questions, unsolicited suggestions and people who look for free labor.
I networked a lot when I was unemployed. I had no direction and openly and not-so-confidently told people I didn’t have a job. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted, and anything would do. So some people suggested that I meet for an “opportunity.”
Now, I suggest that you be clear with someone what that opportunity may be. Also, your time is VALUABLE. Do you hear me? I do NOT care if you’ve retired, been fired, or laid off. Time is a precious thing to waste. Tell them you have thirty minutes.
There was a woman who talked me to near death about her life and the company she represented. I couldn’t take it anymore. I never realized how short my attention span was.
We met in a library; which was my first disappointment. I love meeting people over food. Yes, I knew that I shouldn’t spend money out but to me, everyone is more interesting to talk to over food.
We found a little spot towards the back with a table for two. We sat across from one another and she began to tell me about her life. How she came to this country, how long she was married, how she pretty much raised her child in the library we were in, how she worked as a researcher at a healthcare facility while working at some financial company.
My behind realized how hard the wooden chair I sat on was. My eyes wanted to drop. And this yawn I had was ready to wake the whole library. I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought I loved hearing people’s stories but this time, I just couldn’t.
So, I waited about an hour thinking she’ll be done. I wanted to be polite and let her finish. Plot twist, she never did.
“Well, now I’ve said all that I’d like to tell you about,” she had the nerve to pull out the book about the company she represented. She was trying to recruit me. I was trying to go home. So I told her I had to go. I gave no excuses. Didn’t blame it on anyone just said I had to.
“Oh, I thought since you were unemployed you had time…”
How dare she? How dare she bore me to death because she thinks I have all the time in the world. Sis, I’m looking for jobs more interesting than this encounter.
I dashed out of the library and into my car regretting the draining meet up. For a moment I felt bad for her. I felt bad that it was not the industry I wanted to get into. I think I’d rather stick to the hardship of finding myself in the professional world instead of wasting precious energy pretending to care. I was disappointed knowing that in reality, I wasted both our times because I was afraid to say “no” and wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, I made an appointment with her the following week. In case you’re wondering, I was even more bored than the first meeting.

Adulting with a Car: Hang in There

I still need to vacuum inside my car. I loved how beautiful it looks after an excellent vacuum and how beautiful it smells after applying the cleaning dust and hanging the Yankee Candle air freshener. It just makes me want to drive around all day, pick up people and show off how nice my car is.
A couple of years ago my car passenger side window decided, “Hey, you know what? I’m just NOT going to work today!” When people sat in the passenger side and tried to roll down the window, it wouldn’t go back up. It happened so frequently anyone who wanted to roll down the window I would make them work to bring it back up with their hands. This is normally achieved by me glaring into their soul silently making sure they feel my annoyance burning from within. One day I had one of the main culprits tape the button for the window so no one can bring it down.
About gas, I realized I made a huge mistake when I took a job several miles away from my house, leaving me not enough time to really invest in myself while building a career. After some thought I was like, this is a bad idea.
My car said, “It SURE IS!” And I got a flat.
Adulting has no script. No structured schedules. Everything at the end of the day is doing what’s best for you, boo. I know you’ll make it through.