2015 is coming to an end. People all over the world will soon be blasting their new year’s resolutions all over social media.
“This year I am finally going to start hitting the gym!”
“This year I’m eating healthier!”
“This year I’m taking more risks, dadgummit!”
“This year I’m going to stop procrastinating!”
“This year I’m going to start budgeting my money better!”
Last year my resolution was to be healthier. Wanna know what I had for lunch today? Chik-fil-a. Was it delicious? The best. Worth it? Do you even have to ask? Healthy? Eh…
The year before that, my resolution was to spend my money more wisely. Wanna know how I accomplished that? By dropping $10K on an 7 ½ week trip traveling abroad. Fun? Hell yeah! Amazing experience? You better believe it. Money wise? Definitely not.
Not to say that you can’t travel on a budget. Budget travel has it’s own micro market within the travel industry, so people do it all the time and dedicate a lot of time and, ironically, money into it.
I just wasn’t one of those people.
I planned for about $7K for spending. I figured Europe is one of the more expensive travel destinations and between hostels/hotels, dining expenses, touristy things like tours and sightseeing, actual travel expenses, and random expenses like souvenirs, supplies, etc, budgeting about $1,000 a week should be way more than enough.
Well, that was before I got over there and went absolutely insane. My state of mind before the 10-hour flight over there was “I’m going to be really careful about my spending.” But when I actually got over there, that mindset must have flown out the window somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and I totally forgot about it.
I saw how cool things there were compared to the usual town of Tampa, which I’ve called home for 22 years, and started saying to myself, “this is a once in lifetime opportunity so screw it, I’ll take the extra €15 dinner and the extra £10 bag I want from the market.”
I didn’t stick to my budget. Not even a little bit. It’s like I wasn’t even trying to anymore!
Looking back I blame a huge part of that for my lack of knowledge about budgeting. I thought a mental budget would work fine with me. I didn’t need to write anything down, get reminders about my expenses, or actually track my spending. I was better than that. I could guesstimate and be close enough, right? WRONG.
Arguably, I may have been more fun than I am now, but I was also younger, dumber, more reckless, and my ‘spending wisely’ resolution was totally thrown out the window the moment I stepped on the plane.
“Spending my money more wisely” is one of the most common, cliche resolutions out there. It might even be yours. And that’s not a bad thing! In fact, that’s a great resolution- as long as you stick to it.
People make resolutions and break them. I make them and break them.
But as we leave 2015 behind and face 2016, let’s stop the madness once and for all. Budgeting is really easy when you’re not trying to rely on your own mental capacity.
Budgeting made easy is having a system do it for you and getting reminders about your spending, your bills, and your other expenses.
Going through life, you shouldn’t be having to focus on what’s going on in your bank account. You should be given the freedom to focus on what’s going on in the world around you. Taking in life and all the things life has to offer. Not worrying about running out of money or not being able to pay for something.
If I could do the 7 ½ week trip to Europe again (I hope I can one day!), I would do things much differently.
First off, I wouldn’t rely on my shotty yet rose-colored mental budget I came up with.
I would use a budgeting tool like this one or use mint.com to help me see where I am now with my finances, how much I need to save to not run out of money and be stranded in a foreign country, and track my spending while I am actually on the trip.
I can get email notifications to my phone when I get to a certain point. I can set price points and automatic drafts. I can set my goals for saving and spending. I can connect all of my checking, savings, debit and credit accounts to make sure I’m not overspending.
If I would have used a budgeting tool, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have overspent my budget by $3,000. Like I said, I was reckless and I was in the mindset to have the best time possible no matter the cost. But I am saying, I would have felt a lot more inclined to stay on track with my budget. Getting simple reminders to my phone about where I was at in my finances would have created a financial guilt barrier I wouldn’t cross.
I’d be going against my own word if I would have kept spending, and spending, and spending once I saw my own reminder that I set.
Not to mention, a budgeting tool would have saved me from paying off $3,000 on a high interest credit card, with low income when I got back to reality.
This next year, keep your feet on the ground with your finances and truly start spending and saving wisely. You will thank yourself come 2017 and you may even look back on your own mental, rose-colored budget and laugh at how ridiculous it is.
Get it set up today so you can start tomorrow off with a bang! Save and Spend Wisely Here