Listening To: Got Your Money by Ol' Dirty Bastard
So by now you're probably thinking, "Amber, how did such an incredibly smart and attractive girl such as yourself fall into this position?" The answer is a mix of poor decision making and some plain bad luck. I'll take you through most of those stories in upcoming posts (I'm really looking forward to the one about my credit card history. Can't wait!), but since my ten dollar budget starts today, we'll begin with the most pertinent pit-fall when it comes to my financial life:
I'm a good-time girl. Also, I have very poor impulse control. If I decided, for fun, to take you through some of my old bank statements, we would discover that I spend most of my money on going out and other little "pick-me-ups".
The biggest temptation that I have always faced when it comes to my spending habits is going out with friends. It's so hard for me to say no: My friends really do hold the top priority in my life, so not hanging out with them at every opportunity feels like I'm missing out on valuable time that I won't ever get back. Plus there's that little thing about still being young and single and wanting to make the most of it before I'm an old hag...
The problem with going out all the time is that I always seem to spend way more than I had intended. And while my friendships are among the biggest priorities in my life, that is quickly becoming compromised because, as a result of my poor spending habits, more and more I'm having to deny myself time with them. When you don't even have the luxury of ordering your own priorities due to your poor decision making? That's when it's time for some self-ass-kickin'.
As for little "pick-me-ups", I love Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Victoria's Secret. Those places have gotten so much of my money that I could probably campaign for honorary share-holding seats. My poor impulse control goes something like this: "Maybe I shouldn't go to Starbucks today. I could spend that five bucks on something else, like gas, or paying down my student loans...but I feel like going to Starbucks today. Going to Starbucks makes me so happy...and isn't life really about being happy? Shouldn't I get to be happy?! Let's go to Starbucks!" I can pretty much rationalize every single purchase I ever make: "Books will make me a more intelligent person. You can't put a price on knowledge."..."Victoria's Secret is the one thing I do that's super girly. If I take that away from myself, I might as well just cut off my boobs and start using a strap-on, because there will be no femininity left to me."...I could go on and on. I've had a lifetime of practice when it comes to coming up with great excuses. My parents can vouch for this.
I don't want to eliminate these things completely out of my life: I want to be financially responsible, not totally lame. Also, I don't know if you caught onto this, but I'm pretty horrible at self-deprivation, and I know from past experience that a certain amount of it will completely sabotage all of my efforts. So I just have to find ways to replace that certain type of mindless spending with habits that are more responsible. For instance, I've decided that I'll hold off on the Starbucks fix unless I'm hanging out with my hetero-life-partner Katy: It's kind of our thing, I'll enjoy it more, and it will give me time to plan for it in my budget. I'm also putting a hold on the Victoria's Secret purchases until there's a reason for me to show off my purchases, if you know what I mean (it means that I'm not going to buy anymore until I start getting laid on a regular basis. Just in case you really didn't know what I meant). I suppose I could stop being lazy and actually go out and get a library card instead of racking up purchases at B&N, but I think I'll just read more blogs instead of books in my spare time and just hope that I don't get dumber for it.
Notice that I haven't said anything about a plan for rationing time out with friends and the money I spend doing that. I think I might need to think on that one a bit more yet.