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Posted on Mar 1, 2011 in Dear Diary | 7 comments

Money, Money, Money

Guess what my evening last night involved? Hehe. Yup, doing my taxes. O, the joy. Well, honestly, I can’t say that it’s really that bad for me at this point. I mean, I’m pretty simple when it comes to taxes. I’m not self-employed, I’m not diligent enough to keep all my receipts (well, this is probably a bad thing) and I’m not generous enough to make lots and lots of charitable donations (though I did pull out my li’l donation to DonorsChoose.org for this year’s return. Whatup DC public school reading programs!)

So all this tax-doing and return-getting (w00t!) and whatnot has made me think really hard about how I spend my money. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not super great about budgeting my money (well, that’s probably not true. I’m sure my sister would be the first one to tell you that, haha!) I really love to shop, and I have an amazing but accursed Amazon Prime membership that makes it entirely too easy to just click-click-buy. But one of the things that I’m trying to do this year is manage my money better so that I can make some significant purchases in the future, like a new car:

I currently have my little eyes set on test-driving the Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Toyota Yaris when the time comes. I know that I want an ittybitty car (the better to park you with, my dear!) but something that comes with a hatchback is a definite must (for the doggies!), with back seats that can fold all the way down and I’d also prefer 4-door. Luckily for me, my very first car was a stick shift that I inherited from my brother so I can save a few pesos on manual transmission. Regardless, with the price range I’m looking at, I know that I’m going to need to save up about $4,000 for the down payment I’d want to put down, so I really have to start kicking my financial booty into gear.

I recognize that this particular post might not seem specifically weight-loss related, but I argue that it is. After all, cleaning up your diet, buying whole foods (and shopping at Whole Foods), registering for races, buying running gear, and so on can all start to take a serious toll on your wallet! Inspired by Julie’s post yesterday, I decided to think about what I would really do with my money if I budgeted it better (i.e. fewer impulse buys at Nordstrom, haha.) I do know that one thing I would definitely do is start buying completely fully organic produce instead of having to make decisions about the “Dirty Dozen” vs. the “Clean Fifteen” like I do now.

As a sidenote, if you’re looking to start cleaning up your produce (literally), FitSugar.com has posted a freakin’ adorable chart to help you decide which fruits & veggies should be bought organic versus what you can get away with buying conventionally:

I mean, seriously. How cute is this!?!

I think today’s Question of the Day is pretty obvious: What are your personal financial tips? Do you have a budget? If so, do you stick to that budget? How do you guys save money when you’re working toward a big purchase?

7 Comments

  1. Car priority: Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Honda Fit (don’t bother with the Yaris). Also consider a Chevy Cruze, I drove one for a couple days and it was _awesome_.

    Also, look at mint.com! I use it 🙂

    • I agree on the whole don’t bother with a Yaris thing. The Fit is also a little dinky. But everything about the Mazda screams quality!

  2. It’s funny that you posted this today, as I spent an hour or so yesterday doing the same things – crunching my numbers and trying to figure out where I can squeeze my budget to buy a new car. I’ve been talking about it forever, but it hasn’t become feasible yet for me.

    Like Gaz says, use Mint.com if you aren’t already. It’s free, secure, and it ties into ALL of your financial related accounts. I use it to track my mortgage, credit cards, bank accounts, Roth IRA, 401K, and another mutual fund investment account I have. It also has some really nifty features (like budgets) which let you set certain monthly limits for different types of spending, and you can see for yourself how you’re doing as the month progresses. Granted this assumes the majority of your transactions are made via a trackable medium (plastic), but it’s super convenient and helps identify your problem areas when spending.

    It also lets you track goals – including buying a new car – and will help you to hit a certain amount you want to put away towards that 4k 🙂 Good luck with your saving!

  3. Not as fancy as Ed’s proposition (which sounds pretty cool), I’m an old fashioned gal who uses a spreadsheet. When I’m budgeting, I write every transaction I make per month (even the small dollar snack purchases) and add them on the side by category (such as groceries, rent, phone/internet, clothes, restaurant, etc.). As the month goes by and you keep up the formulas, you’ll see very quickly where all of your money is going and how much you have spent compared to your income.

    Once again, very similar to the previous comment, but does ask for a little more effort (if you can handle it, lol).

  4. I don’t recommend it, but breaking your ankle is a GREAT way to save $$. I’ve never been huge on budgeting, but after the last month of being laid up and not shopping, going to Target daily, eating out, drinking, etc etc I had a crap ton of money leftover! Now if only that money didn’t have to go to medical bills….sigh….

  5. I’ve made my financial health a priority in 2011.

    I came up with a realistic budget that allows me to repay my debt (that legal education did not come cheaply) and spend money on all those necessities. Part of the reason I want to get my financial house in order is that next year we (the Husband and me) want to save for a down payment for our first place.

    So far, I’ve been really good about sticking to my budget. I’m mighty proud! 🙂 Really, the hardest thing thus far has been staying on top of tracking my expenses. It doesn’t take very long for things to get out of control.

    As far as saving for big purchases – we just make it a priority. That’s what we did for our wedding . . . all the other expenditures in my life were adjusted in order to make sure I saved the necessary amount of money.

    And since you mentioned a Mazda2 – can I say, I have a Mazda3 GT and I LOVE IT!!!!! I’ve had it for a couple of years and there’s not been a single day that I regretted my purchase! In fact, I would massively recommend a Mazda car!!!!

    • I LOOOOVE the Mazda3! My sister had one, and I got to drive it for a year while she was out of the country. It’s a fantastic car, and if I made just a little more money that’s definitely the ride I’d be rolling with, haha.

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