Just Say No

13 Sep

August 30, 2011 – I get paid tomorrow. And I really, really, really want to keep my head above water this month. Which means one thing, I am going to have to say no, a lot. No to friends wanting to go out. No to my cravings for Subway lunches. No to bottles of wine! Wine? No! Ok, so some wine, but only from Plaid Pantry and nothing over $5.

I am hoping this is the last really, insanely tight money month because two great things happened. I got a second part-time job as a Experience Coordinator for LivingSocial Adventures, which essentially means I get to help coordinate rad excursions around Portland for anyone lucky enough to have spare cash to purchase said excursions. Sails and Ales? Ropes course and zip-line? I mean, it sounds fun, right? (Thank you Izzy for hooking me up with the opportunity! All about networking people…).

And then at my regular job, I should be getting a small raise. An extra $100 a month or so. Nothing to make a real dent, but hey, anything helps at this point – I mean it – anything. So with the extra income, that should loosen the belt a little. But until then, I really want to do some good for my bank account. I think this means I need to think of fun free things to do! Or at least fun, really cheap things.

It’s summer – so the park is always free.  Cheap booze required.

They also show free movies in the parks!

It’s 2 been weeks since I wrote the above…I somehow got distracted. Instead of revisiting…how about you give me some ideas of cheap, fun things to do that will get me out of the house and keep me out of the bar.

ALSO! Portlanders – since keeping me out of the beers entirely isn’t realistic – I really love $1 beer bars. Can you give me a list? Where and When? Hungry Tiger II on Wednesday…the Standard on…some other day….share your wisdom so I can maximize fun on a minimal budget.

Thanks! xoxo Lou

……

So…let’s see, it’s now September 13 and the first time I thought about money was two days ago, Sunday September 11th. That is terrible. Because I also wasn’t saying no to things, admittedly. When you get paid, of course you want to reward yourself and go out with friends because for the two weeks prior you’ve been scrounging for change to buy a $2 piece of pizza and staying home every night wishing you had some red wine to go with your plain noodles. It’s a vicious cycle and I know…I fail. Because my approach is to not think about it. Oh, bills, I will get to that Sunday. And from Monday to Saturday I think I can buy drinks when really I can’t.

It is seriously time to get back on that budget, especially with these new tiny sources of income coming in. And it is also time to keep writing this blog to hold me accountable because I think I am worse than most people in that I simply don’t confront what it is I am dealing with and that really hurts me in the end.

So game plan – spend today getting up to date on this (dumb) budget – says the reluctant child in me. And plan a debt meeting with my debt team. Write a blog post about both and ultimately – get back on track. In general. Stupid money. Stupid debt. Really getting in the way of my ability to have fun. At the end of the day, I don’t spend THAT much money, and all I want is to be able to spend that limited amount without having to think about every penny and tailspin into worry, averting a crash only by pushing it to the back of my mind. Bad, bad, terrible money patterns people.

Le Sigh.

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5 Responses to “Just Say No”

  1. emaud September 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    This sounds a little trite, but I have made myself a money notebook. I tried spreadsheets and ledgers and all the usual things, but none of them worked. Like you, I tended to ignore rather than give them the fierce attention they deserved. So. Plan G.

    I have a notebook that I literally take notes in about my finances each month. (Notes include: am I behind on anything? if so, what and how much? strategy for catching up. mapping out budget. etc. Then, I print out a calendar for said month with due dates and amounts and also dates and amounts of income. When I pay a bill, I get to check it off the calendar! Which is absurdly gratifying. The calendar also helps me see realities such as how due dates can be shifted around based on paydays (most companies will let you change your due date if you need to).

    In the meantime:
    Potlucks! Everyone pitches in, and there are usually leftovers.
    $2 movies. Or, the GC your sister bought you (go see Harry Potter, for goodness sake!)
    Start a book club
    or a writing group
    MOST IMPORTANT: You are not your money. Do not let money (or the lack thereof) take over your life. Keep working hard and being responsible, and the scales will eventually tip in your favor. (in this economy they may tip away again, but your focus has to be on what you’re in control of Now)
    REALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT: I love you. You can do this. Vive.

  2. Lorelei September 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Bar of the Gods has $1.50 PBRs every night from 4-8pm…except on Thursday when they are 75cents.

    I feel like I’m in the same boat right now – stretched impossibly thin when I feel like all I do is work. And I get the paycheck thing, I always do that. I’ve been trying lately just to pick one night or stick to one bar so I don’t blow so much that first weekend.

    Mint.com helps keep tabs on where you’re spending your money – the visual reminder that all my money goes to bars helps me think twice. Cook a meal you can eat throughout the week on a Sunday, like a lasagna, and take it as your lunch with you to work each day or eat as leftovers for dinner. I’ve been eating out way less because of this. Also having some pre-made rice and beans in the fridge and a package of tortillas means instant burrito or tacos whenever I want.

    And yah, things like potlucks, movie nights, etc. really help. Because we’re all really in the same boat – so getting to hang out but not spend much if anything is beneficial to all.

  3. lcdwyer September 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    $0.75 Thursday’s at BOG? Yes! And that is what I am talking about.

    Thanks for the tips and what works for you advice. It’s nice to feel like you’re not in it alone and to see ways to still have fun that don’t include going out all of the time.

    I’ve been living on red beans and rice and this great bag of frozen greens from Whole Foods that I smother in soy sauce. Healthy, filling, and I can eat it all week. …it really sucks 🙂 But I know some day it will help me appreciate the simple act of ordering a pizza.

  4. Peter Thelibrarian September 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Hey there-

    Thanks for sharing. Philosophically and socially, it’s a great thing to do; we don’t talk much about money in our society, which contributes to our collective lack of skills in dealing with it. But I’m pretty sure your main motivation is not the altruistic benefits to society so much as putting yourself out there as a form of accountability (as it were). It’s a bold choice and I wish you every success and satisfaction.

    A few thoughts/ suggestions: (this assumes that your income is at least equal to your minimum payments and survival needs; if not, you have to get to that place first and that’s a whole other set of advice.)

    *Systematize and automate everything you can- put money into your payment account and have minimum payments made automatically. Obviously, min. payments alone won’t get you debt free anytime soon, but they will stop you from getting usurious late charges and penalty interest rates. (Make sure you don’t pay fees for whatever auto-pay options you choose)

    *Segregate accounts- one for bill paying and necessary expenses, one for future savings (even if it’s $1 /paycheck, something is better than nothing), one for discretionary money (again, no matter if it’s a tiny amount, it should be something) The discretionary account could be a bank account or the back of your underwear drawer; it doesn’t matter, as long as you cannot overdraw it and it has no fees or minimum balance. The first 2 accounts are very strict: you put in whatever your plan requires, period; you spend it only on the prescribed purposes, period. The discretionary account is just that- money that you can spend however and whenever you want without guilt or any accountability other than when it’s gone, you’re done.

    *Pay down your most expensive debt first. People often attack the biggest debt or the smallest debt first because they find it emotionally satisfying, but it’s financially to pay off the one with the highest interest + fees first.

    *Define in advance how you will use windfalls like tax returns, gifts, lotto jackpots, etc. In my house, we put 50% into our payments account, and split the rest between our discretionary accounts. In your house, you should do whatever works for you.

    *Buy spices. Rice and veggies is always rice and veggies, but if you can make it Cuban one night, Indian another, Chinese another, etc, it’ll be a lot more palatable.

    * And last, but not least: use your public library. Books, movies, music, ebooks and online resources are all available for free. Most likely, there are also events and classes offered for free as well. And all that marvelous education you’re paying for? Maybe you can find entertainment and satisfaction by sharing some of it with others. I’m willing to bet that your libraries have tutoring and reading programs that need volunteers and they might also be interested in having programs like a creative writing workshop or a Blog Writing 101 class.

    Peace,
    Peter

  5. Lou October 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Thanks for all of the advice Peter! That is exactly one of the reasons I am writing this blog in addition to holding myself accountable and yes, I suppose to a degree my goal is to change the way society thinks and talks about money. Every individual has a unique situation and I think from the very smallest of these examples to the protests we are now seeing around the country in the fashion of Occupy Wall Street, money/work/survival/hardship is moving into the spotlight. This is just one tiny, tiny slice of that.

    In regards to myself and your suggestions, here’s where I am at:

    *Systematize and automate everything you can* I have essentially already taken steps to do this, although I am just now realizing how important it is to choose what specific date your bills come out on. I only get paid once a month, so if I let money sit in my account while I wait for a payment to come out on the 25th of the month, well, it usually results in default because I tell myself the money is there – it looks like it is there! – but it really isn’t there at all. So currently – working to get an automated system that works for my specific needs.

    I have a friend that has two accounts – one where the necessary amount goes every month for automatic bill payments and another for all the rest. It’s not a terrible idea actually and even though I might only end up with $100 in the second account each month – that visual might really help rein me in. I think this is what you’re getting at when you talk about *Segregate accounts* and I am working toward that to be sure. GOAL.

    *Pay down your most expensive debt first.* Really good advice and definitely the kind of sentence that makes me cringe. I need to go to a coffee shop and sit at a table and lay shit out in front of me and just get it over with. But oy, the process makes me want to climb under the covers and never emerge. That being said – it helps to hear it – I know it is something I need to do. And it isn’t even that difficult. I am a financial wuss. GOAL 2

    *Define in advance how you will use windfalls like tax returns, gifts, lotto jackpots, etc.* Will try this! I imagine most of it will go to paying down my debt with the highest highest interest + fees first 🙂

    *Buy spices* Brilliant advice – thank you!

    *And last, but not least: use your public library.* Also brilliant advice – started looking for volunteer opportunities this weekend. My education feels so final now that I am in the workforce and this is the perfect way to extend it’s lifeline for myself.

    Thanks Peter! Excellent contribution. Keep it coming.

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