The Financial Fitness Challenge
On my way back from Melbourne, I got my grubby hands on a copy of Australia’s Cosmopolitan magazine. I needed some pink to read on the flight back. A quick glance led me to a “How To” about budgets. I’ve been through a lot a budgeting articles, but apart from my lack of commitment, a lot of them are just a bit to challenging for me. Maybe it’s my inner dumb-blonde (no offense to blondes) but I think a daily step-by-step plan is what I need to start saving.
Change should be a life-long habit to me, especially when your mind has it’s own version of ADHD. Brain’s all over the place! I’m also an impulsive person, which would result to me being an impulse spender. Most days, I think about buying a dozen pair of shoes to go on top of my existing dozen. Same goes with tops and jeans. And maybe lipstick. Lipstick is probably the best investment for any woman to make and it’s even better when you have variety. Pardon me, but I wear colors on my lips according to my moods.
So, with that weird anecdote, it’s quite obvious that I have a financial problem due to my twisted financial philosophy. Let’s not forget the urge to even buy the magazine. I’ve decided to commit to Cosmopolitan’s money makeover. Charting and sharing will be necessary, so to see how I’m doing, please drop by every week.
Each week, I will expose 10 daily challenges proposed by CosmopolitanAU. So, drop by every week!
End of the Month*
Day 1: Make a list.
Creating a checklist is a first step to recovery. Work out what you have and what you owe and note down interest rates for any loans or bills. I’ve created an organized checklist, prioritizing debts of the largest sum.
Day 2: Note your expenses
I think this is where I need to start using my weird skill for details for the greater good. Every little thing, including the set of stamps to the cup of bubble tea, to the emergency cab will be written down. Add it up and subtract the figure from take-home pay. Combine with yesterday’s figures to get your monthly budget.
Day 3: Make a virtual money mood board
“Get past the day-three-detox-slump by focusing on your end game: do you want to pay off your debts, buy a car, go travelling, save for an apartment? Swap your iPhone screensaver for a pic that will inspire you to stay in the saving zone”.
I found this lovely quote after some intense Googling. It’s definitely a great reminder that all the hard work and easy-living will pay off! Perhaps doll it up with some pretty effects with Pixlr-o-Matic.
Day 4 : Shrink your debt.
“If you have a lot of debt, consider moving it to zero per cent balance transfer credit”.Hrmm..Considering I do not own a credit card, I’m gonna skip this one.
Day 5: Spend nothing.
This might be a little tricky since I never leave home without my wallet, and you never know when an emergency arises. But Cosmo advises to leave the wallet at home, pack lunch and feel proud that a dime hasn’t been spent. I will be carrying a 10 just in case, though.
Day 6 : Be credit savvy.
This activity, also meant for credit card users, suggests confirming the interest rates and annual payments of your cards. Think hard about the rewards points. Unless if you travel a lot, I would reckon signing up your credit card for the airline rewards like Malaysia Airlines do. Every point counts, and a good accumulation would lead to a free flight. As terms apply, I reckon doing some homework before you start shopping as this article IS about saving. So, maybe give it a miss?
If you’ve cancelled your cards, how about doing cutting them into guitar-picks and give it to some hungry musicians or donate them to a children’s music school. Or sell them for a dollar at a flea market.
Day 7: Go shopping.
Not the kind of shopping where you treat yourself to a pair of earrings because you’ve done such a good job at not spending, but the kind of shopping to help keep your finances balanced out and organized. “Buy cardboard folders for all your bills and statements, and put everything in separate files”.
Day 8: Pack your lunch.
“Cook a big, hearty soup filled with beans and veggies and freeze into five one-portion servings for the coming week”. I love this idea. I like packing something good to work so I don’t feel so pathetic when I’m slumping in my desk while everyone’s out for lunch. I love making Pea and Ham Soup. It’s so hearty and the flavors are intense. But here’s a little something unique by my favorite culinary maven, Joy The Baker.
Day 9 : Go cash-only.
I guess this is a habit that I really need to take seriously. Simply allocate a budget you NEED for the next five days and take out the exact amount in cash and not spend a cent more. Sounds easy, but easier said than done. But let’s rock this anyways!
Day 10 : Plan your petrol-buying.
I don’t drive a car, but as a driver, do you keep track of the daily fuel price? If you don’t, maybe it’s time that you do. But if you’re like me, depending on public transportation is fairly manageable, but there are days when things aren’t going so smoothly, and you might need some emergency cab money!
* Content from the August ’12 issue of Cosmopolitan AU.
This is the end of Part I so be sure to drop by next week for more tips!
Peace and love, beautiful people!