Chronic overspending has plagued me my entire life. Even as a kid, I always felt like I never had enough money, always running short on car insurance or my phone bill even though those were the only two bills I had as a teenager.
My mom likes to say that I "$20 myself to death," meaning that I don't buy outrageously expensive things, just lots of here and there so that it's not obvious why I'm constantly playing catchup on finances. Dinner out here, going to the movies there. Oh, it's a friend's birthday, and we're going out for drinks. Someone at work lost a pet; we're throwing in to send them flowers. I think this is what they're talking about when they say Millennials need to stop going out for coffee. (However, they can pry my grande latte from my cold dead hands).
Spending is emotional for me. I've struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, and that instant gratification of clicking "buy" or throwing it in the cart is a self-soothing technique I've had to fight actively. I'm also a creative – I went to art school where I didn't take a single math class and work in a creative industry. I just don't have a head for money or numbers. My mom, an office manager, and bookkeeper - DOES. NOT. GET. IT. And my spending has been a strain on our relationship for years. She was constantly bailing me out, though it was never enough to solve all my financial woes ultimately. I graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design in spring 2010 – not quite as bad of a job market as those looking to start careers in 2008, but it was not flourishing. I was staring down the barrel of $60,000 in student loan debt. When I did find a job in the fall of 2010, I barely made enough to cover all of my bills. Pulling out the credit card became a way of life for me and what started as a necessity became a habit that even when I made more than enough money to live comfortably, I still found myself living paycheck to paycheck.
It's vitally important for me to stay on budget, not just for myself but for my mom. She's retiring in four years and has hefty savings but nowhere near enough to cover the longevity typical of our family. She's taken care of me my entire life, above and beyond the age of 18 and well after college. So I want to give her the comfortable life she deserves in her retirement, take her on vacations, and splurge on nails and spa services. She deserves it.
Ultimately, it took medication and me working with a trainer at Financial Gym to really get my finances under control. Finding Simple and using expenses and goals was integral in getting me off credit cards and in a cash-only system. I was finally making a dent in a HUGE mountain of debt when they announced they were shutting down.
So, to say I absolutely panicked is an understatement. If all of my money was lumped together in a traditional bank account, and if I goofed or over-splurged – which was VERY likely – I was really screwed.
One to the rescue!
Creating Pockets was super easy, and now that they've implemented Scheduled Transfers and created virtual cards, I can pay all of my bills whether they require an account and routing number or a debit card. My One setup is below.
🔄 Auto-Debit Pocket – amount fluctuates per pay period
🍎 Grocery Pocket – [$xxx.xx] per pay period
⚕️ Medical Pocket – [$xxx.xx] monthly
☕ Coffee Pocket -– [$xx.xx] per pay period
💟 Donations Pocket – [$xx.xx] monthly
📺 Streaming Services Pocket – [$xx.xx] monthly
🏡 Cleaning Service Pocket – [$xxx.xx] monthly
Every pay period...
Send [$xx.xx] to “❌ Wrinkles Pocket” to cover [$xxx.xx] quarterly expense
Send [$xx.xx] to “👁️ Lash + Brows Pocket” to cover [$xxx.xx] every six weeks expense
Send [$xx.xx] to “✂️ Hair Pocket” to cover [$xxx.xx] quarterly expense
Send [$xx.xx] to “⭐ Conference Pocket” to cover [$x,xxx.xx] expense by August 2022
Send [$xx.xx] to “✈️ Travel Pocket” for long term savings goal for future trips
Send [$xx.xx] to “🖤 Dream Car Pocket” for long term savings goal until I get [$xx,xxx.xx]
I have an Auto-Debit Pocket for all fixed, unavoidable bills like my mortgage, utilities, student loans, credit cards, etc., but a separate pocket for Groceries since there's room for error, especially if I don't pre-order groceries online. I try to guard against any overspending by separating fluctuating, avoidable expenses. I have a separate Medical Pocket to keep track of insurance claims easily.
After that, I separate any services that can be dropped if I end up short during the pay period or month, like streaming services or my cleaning service.
After all my funds are allocated for monthly expenses, I have Pockets for savings goals. I try to put aside a fixed amount (sometimes as little as $10) for recurring short-term goals for things like spa services and beauty maintenance. Each treatment or service is separate because they all come "due" at different times, so it's easier to see where I'm at with each of them.
Lastly, I have medium and long-term goals, two of which revolve around travel. First, I have a general travel fund for any trips I might plan in the future, making a specific goal for planned upcoming trips. Right now, I'm saving for a fan convention for a supernatural TV show I'm attending in 2022 (thanks to COVID-19). Lastly, I have a super-long term, pie in the sky goal of owning a screen-accurate replica of a 1967 Chevy Impala, named Baby but commonly referred to as the Metalicar, from the supernatural show.