April Journal Update
Financial Planning and Bullet Journaling
Hi, I’m Rosemary and I’m not a saver. I believe in the religion of retail therapy and I have a tendency to order Chinese takeout more than once a week.
H O W E V E R, I am also Rosemary – Future Mother. And this new title kicked my butt into high gear and got me to finally address my finances. Today I’m going to share some of my bullet journal layouts that deal with my saving and spending while talking about the steps I’ve been taking to work on my finances. Even if you’re not planning on having kids any time soon, you might be interested in also saving money and cutting down on your debt – so feel free to see what works for me and maybe part of it will work for you too.
When I made my new years goals, having a baby was on that list – but I didn’t think I’d get pregnant quite so fast. I had more financial goals than normal: to establish a healthy savings account, to build up my credit score and to cut out unnecessary spending. Finding out I was pregnant only made me want to accomplish these tasks more so.
First thing’s first: I took a look at my debt and credit score. This was, to tell the truth, pretty depressing – but I tried to remind myself that I have a solid, government job and that the amount of total debt I have isn’t actually too horrible. The majority of it is student loan based. I think a lot of times you can sometimes fall into the hole of thinking your situation is the absolute worst and no one could understand but it’s important to remember that, like, basically everyone you meet between the ages of 24-35 is trying to balance student loans and happy hour margaritas. I reminded myself that my debt was manageable and that it would take time, but eventually, with some hard work and perseverance, I could be student loan debt free sooner rather than later! Woo!
It’s definitely easy to feel defeated when reviewing your student loans. All that debt doesn’t exactly equate to a high paying job and even if you’ve got a comfortable job – you’re paying so much to your loans that you still feel broke! It sucks. It isn’t fun. It can make you regret your entire college experience. Try not to do that. I’ve done it, and I’ve tried to ignore my loans, and it just winds up causing more debt. No Bueno.
Going over your finances with your student loan companies can help establish a payment plan that works for you. If you’re like me, and working a government job, look into loan forgiveness. This is a pretty cool program where, if you make 190 consecutive payments to your student loans – you can actually quality to have them “forgiven.” I’m a little bummed that I didn’t look into this sooner, as I have less than 190 payments left on my loans. I pay my student loans twice a month, because the thought of one large payment overwhelmed me. Sure, I’ll be paying this loan off for EIGHT YEARS, but once I’m done – I’m done. You just gotta do it. Rip off the bandaid and be aware of what you owe. It’ll suck, but it’s way better than being in the dark.
Knowing that a portion of my monthly salary was designated to student loans actually made my life a little easier because it freed up all the time and energy I had spent worrying about said loans when I was avoiding them.
Next was savings.
I’ve always been horrible at saving money. My excuse was that I didn’t make a lot of money and so it seemed stupid to save miniscule amounts. This is a stupid thought process that really came down on me when I found out I was pregnant. Set a goal in mind: mine is, obviously, being able to provide for my child – but before that it was planning a vacation with my husband. Set an amount you want to save each month and then go to your banking account and just set up auto-transfers. I do a transfer for each pay period, and honestly one of my favorite things to do is to watch my savings grow.
Now the hard part: DON’T TOUCH IT.
The reason I have auto-transfers, set up on my pay days, is because it allows me to never really “miss” that money. I just sort of forget about it, and then I see it appear in my savings and I realize that whatever I would have spent it on – a dress, a brunch, a concert – wouldn’t have really given me the same happy feeling that seeing my savings increase gives me.
I am still no pro at savings, but that’s my method and it works for me.
Finally, I had to tackle my goal of cutting back on frivolous spending. As I got further along in my pregnancy, this actually got a little easier. My vice is clothes, and nothing will put you off buying clothes like growing a human. I don’t mean this in a bad way – I’m loving how my body is changing – but there are certain things (high waisted Dalmatian print jeans are an example just off the top of my head) that just aren’t going to work for me in the next few months. I also don’t know what my body will be like once Baby K is here, so the desire to buy for my post-pregnant body is very very low.
I set aside a designated amount for maternity wear – since I work in a government office and have a bit of a dress code, I really did need some maternity friendly office outfits. I’ll probably cover this in one of my monthly recaps, so I won’t get into it here.
Once that designated spending amount had been set a side, I put out a personal challenge. For the months of April and May, I wouldn’t buy myself any clothes. Or books. Or bullet journaling supplies. Or baby clothes (unless they were really, really cute and limitedly available). It was a battle between my retail therapy loving butt and my type-A journaling side. If I didn’t shop, I got to color in a square. If I shopped, that square was left blank. Which would win the battle of aesthetically pleasing bullet journal spreads?
Knowing how hard it is to quit something cold turkey, I allowed myself a few pre-scheduled spending days. I bought myself a birthday present, I bought myself a hardcover book on a day trip to New York, and I set aside a bit of money to spend at the Dollywood gift shop. So far, my only splurge has been the $12 I spent on a vintage Harley Davidson onesie for Baby K. I’m actually really proud of myself and how I’ve cut back on Amazon Prime and ASOS purchases. This is the first month where I'm steadily tracking my spending, and it's really cut back on excess. Sure, I probably put too much money on my Starbucks card - but $30 a month is a little easier to swallow than a $150 receipt for clothes that I won't be able to wear in a month.
So, that’s my financial blabber. It’s probably a little too personal but I’m hoping that maybe someone, somewhere finds it a little relatable.