When we last saw our hero…

supermanismoneysavvy
(Action Comics #176 “Muscles for Money!” part 1 of 2)

I decided to take a spontaneous trip this past week. This is why I am bringing you this week’s post two days late on a Saturday night. I was in New York City this past week in what essentially was a last minute decision in the form of my friend texting me, “Hey want to go to New York?” and a few hours later I replied with, “Girl, I got our tix for Monday”. With all the excitement of exploring a city I have never been to before, I didn’t have a moment to breathe and compose a post from the tiny screen of my giant smartphone. I need a computer screen like the professional blogger that I am! (“I have a domain name and that makes me a professional blogger” is essentially the equivalent of Spongebob’s Plankton saying “I went to college!”) It isn’t like I didn’t actively think about my dearest Pig. This brings me to this week’s topic:

TREAT YOURSELF BUT KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING!

This is coming from someone who actively would put on a blindfold whenever I spontaneously treated myself. Clothes, clothes, clothes, never mind that these clothes don’t fit anymore.

I’ve previously talked about treating yourself and touched on the idea of planning ahead in order to treat yourself. That camping trip you want to go on? How are you going to make it happen? Saving money for that trip! Likewise, if you get the opportunity to hop on a plane and see a place you’ve never seen before, KNOW THE EXPENSES.

Let’s rewind. When my friend told me about New York, I first took it with a grain of salt. When she explained we could stay with her cousin, I considered it a little bit more. Lodging was one expense less. I began to think this might just work. I began to research flights to see what the price ranges were for the dates we were considering. I changed times and flight details in my search criteria in order to see if there were any inexpensive options.

The flight was affordable for what I had available at the moment. That was the first step.

Next, I took a look at my wealth management spreadsheet (remember guys, I hate the word budget, and wealth management has more of a positive connotation because it is my money, and I get to decide where to best allocate it).

I determined where I could cut back on for this month’s typical expenses to determine how much money I could actively set aside from my bank account for expenses during this trip. I took into account the little things like:

  • I wouldn’t be using my car during the week I would be in New York. Therefore, I would have one less time to fill up this month in my expenses.
  • I wouldn’t be buying my weekly groceries for home because I could use that for food expenses while out there.
  • I could cut back on my leisure limit for the month and switch it over to leisure limit for New York. Furthermore, after a week in New York, why would I want to go out again this weekend? Notice how on a Saturday night, I am at home, typing up this post, and probably going for a run at the gym after posting this? None of that includes spending money on bar hopping this weekend! Shifting that leisure money helped give some more money for things to do while I was out there.

Little things like this add up. This money then turns into an amount that could be applied for things to do in New York. I was able to shift and see where my money would be going. The point being: don’t blindly take a leap toward treating yourself without first sitting down and analyzing where the money for it is coming from and what other adjustments you will have to make.

Another important factor to highlight: While on a spontaneous trip or any trip really, take a moment to pause and reflect. By this I mean pause from what you are doing while out there and reflect on what you have been spending while you are there. There will always be some form of downtime amidst all of the exploring and walking (my feet are tired) to take a moment and check in with your money.

Be like the Superman in the picture above and check your assets.

You can take this moment while you’re all figuring out what to do next back at the home/hotel you’re staying in.

  • Open up your bank app.
  • Log onto your credit card’s website.
  • Count that cash in your wallet.
  • Venmo the people you’re with if they covered for one thing.

You can even do this while you’re taking a shit from having been a little too gluttonous (that pasta hit my intestines like nobody’s business and yet here I am sharing it with you).

If you go over what you expected, make a note to create an action plan for that when you return home. You are responsible for your money. For years, I spent without wanting to look at what I spent. That didn’t get me anywhere good. While on this trip I took several moments to pause and reflect. Now that I’m back home, I can determine if I need to make any further adjustments in this month’s remaining income. Being in control is a satisfying feeling. You can be in control, too!

Cool, now that we have that out of the way, let’s settle a very important debate. New York pizza is great… at 2 AM in the morning after a few drinks.

Treat Yourself!

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… but plan for it ahead of time.

Look, I’m not a financial adviser. I haven’t written books of money from the perspective of a millionaire that pulled herself from her bootstraps. I haven’t helped thousands get their financial shit together through sold out speaking engagements, and I most certainly have not been booked by daytime TV in any capacity. I’m only talking from experience, and as with even expert opinions, you should take what I say with a grain of salt and decide for yourself what is best for you.

I get it. I want that. I want it now. I got to have it. Impulsive purchases give us a high of sorts. For me, it happened to be a coping mechanism to deal with my depression where buying more clothes felt like a good idea at the time, even though my closet was already overflowing with clothes I never even wore! Seriously, my mom and friends are notorious for telling me I always wear the same three items of clothing despite everything I have. Kind of like Charlie Brown, though nobody ever berates him about it. 

So, is treating yourself bad? No, but learning how much to treat yourself can be challenging.

Let’s go back in time. I grew up low income. My mother was a single parent working minimum paying jobs while trying to raise my sister and I. Going to the store was more about window shopping than actually buying things. Oh, you want McDonald’s? Sorry, no money for that. It was all about the essentials, and while my mom was certainly thrifty and resourceful, guess what happened when I started working while in college?

I went in the opposite direction of being thrifty and started buying anything I wanted (while still paying my half of the rent). I had absolutely no filter because as naive as it sounds, eighteen year old Angelica thought she was suddenly rich on her own minimum wage!

The majority of my checks working at some mall teen store went directly back into that store because of the enticing employee discount. I kept upgrading my computers and phones, as if I actually had the means for it. At this time, I still paid everything on time and had great credit until a few years later when treating myself finally caught up to me.

I hit the kind of wall that you hit when you’ve had one too many drinks.

After hitting this metaphorical wall, I then went into the other direction with the mentality of: I HAVE TO BUCKLE DOWN. Can’t spend money on that, or that or this, no more spending money.

Yet, that also was not the best solution for me. Having the mentality of “can’t spend money on that” just made me feel more guilty and horrible about myself and what direction I was headed toward. What was a girl to do?

PRIORITIZE.

It’s been a year since I have been practicing a solid budget, and I still get to treat myself. The difference? I have an annual budget on Excel (we’ll discuss this in more detail in later posts) where I am able to view at a glance each month, determine necessary expenses (bills, groceries, utilities) and then figure out how much money is left over that I can spend on other things I want. This way I can treat myself to coloring my hair or going to a concert or taking a trip.

I’ve even set dates that I know for certain that I want to treat myself on, and actually save money ahead of time for that Treat Yourself Day that I picked. If you know that next month you want to go out on the town, then save for that night this month! Obviously, this should be different from a normal savings routine. It’s better to be proactive than borrow money from your actual savings account for a Treat Yourself Day.

It’s OK to treat yourself, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Why is it that money has a tendency to make us feel guilty? Guilt doesn’t make for the best relationship, and something I learned from reading plenty of self help books this past year is that in general we have to learn to have a much more positive relationship with money.

So, treat yourself responsibly. Plan ahead or prioritize current expenses in order to feel less guilty about it, and also to maintain control over how, when and with what you treat yourself.