Resolute Frugality : Measurements

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L.A. is the city of indulgence… and man, do I live for the sixteen dollar, locally-sourced, mixologist-crafted cocktail; which I order as a reward post thirty dollar spin class; which I take suited up in a couple hundred dollars of spandex.

One of my favorite things to do is attend the decadent events, held in some of the best venues all over the city; well worth the gallons of gas expelled while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Not to mention the valet fees.

I mean, the sole focus of my work day is to market intimate seaside luxury; and my corporate brand is completely on par with my personal brand. I am the happiest camper.

But preferences aside, we aren’t really being honest with one another in regards to the true cost of living.

And I don’t mean that in a metaphorical, we’re all selling our souls in exchange for success-and-a-pretty-Instagram-feed kind of way.

But rather, we’re all walking around, swiping our cards, wracking up debt, pretending it’s normal; pretending we need the fancy makeup, the expensive skin care, the gucci purse, the front row seats. We figure that all of these things add value and overall life satisfaction. It’s an investment into future success. We need to be seen in the right blazer and shoes in order to be taken seriously.

But lately, it’s starting to feel a little counterproductive.

So I began asking around.

(Now in full disclosure: I’m incredibly lucky to not have any real debt, thanks to my parents footing the college bill. But if I continue down this path of “keeping up with the joneses/ kardashians” I’m sure to acquire some. I thought this was normal… until I started talking to my girlfriends and realized we were all holding onto the same ball of anxiety and fear. It was normal to the extent that it was typical. But as it turns out, we’re all hungry for financial stability. We just don’t know how to go about it, considering our peers are our only frame of reference. And thus my motivation behind this social experiment.)

And then I started talking to those who seemed to be killing it, and it turned out they felt that same dark cloud over their head.

So then I started talking about money and spending in inappropriate situations with relative strangers.

(This can’t be surprising considering this blog is littered with controversial remarks on sex, drugs, rock&roll, and religion. Naturally, money was eminent.)

And then I built upon the conversations by listening to financal and entrepreneurial centered podcasts. I read articles, and synopsis, and summaries of how my fellow millennials were living. Observed the lifestyles of women who’ve already achieved what’s on my vision board.

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Well so, after all that, herein lies the synopsis and my starting point for “Resolute Frugality”: 

ONE – The Patterns

A few months ago I downloaded the Mint App onto my phone, synched it, and began analyzing my spending… where was the bulk of it going? The pretty charts make it easy to dissect. It’s also a lot easier (re: less painful) to look at a graph, than to comb through the bank app. Which helped me get a grip on my spending reality. (Also the app is a good way to catch unauthorized spending, like the douche who dropped a few thousand on Tiffany’s via my credit card. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT’S NOT 2004.)

As it turns out, I spend quite a bit on:

  1. Food.
    1. Dining out for lunch during the work week.
    2. Relatively expensive dinners/drinks.
    3. Groceries.
  2. Misc.
    1. Spontaneous purchases. (Target/TJ Maxx I’m looking’ at you.)
    2. Unnecessary, unprovoked, well-thoughtout, full of love… gifts. For my people.

TWO – The Formula 

First of all, get yourself a Tyler Hines. Someone who’s not only willing to attend your baptism …but take pictures. Someone who will pause a Tom Hanks movie to politely, albeit controversially, discuss politics and religion. Someone who treats your best gal (his wife) like a friggin queeeeen. Someone who’ll  spend an hour at a party talking about money and strategy.

And at said party, here’s what Ty tells me:

70% spend

20% save

10% donate

THREE – The Extended Formula 

And then he sent me this excel spread sheet to help map out my spending, month by month/week by week.

Running Budget Doc

  • The personalized parts are in red.
  • Since I’m hourly, I base it on the average check that drops into my bank account; so POST taxes. And I base it on the lowest average check I see.
  • There’s an additional line for OT (so the additional variable above the lowest average check) which I plan to drop into savings.
  • I also put a line for added income like babysitting.

FOUR – The Budget 

Well so here’s how I configured it.

  • Monthly Bills:
    • Take your average monthly income (minus taxes) and calculate the percentages:
      • Let’s say (for easy math sake) you make $500 every week – $2,000/month
      • $2,000 x .70 = (A) $1,400 (AMOUNT YOU SPEND)
      • $2,000 x .20 = (B) $400 (AMOUNT YOU SAVE)
      • $2,000 x .10 = (C) $200 (AMOUNT YOU DONATE)
    • Now, you take (A) and deduct the big, nonnegotiable things: Rent, Car Payment, Student Loans, Phone Bill, Insurance
      • For the sake of easy math, let’s say you’re left with $1,000 per month.
    • Now, take a close look at your bank statement and configure regular payments and subscriptions such as Patreon, Spotify, Skin Care Subscriptions. Can you nix any?
      • And let’s say you’re left with  $500.
    • Figure out the miscellaneous.
      • How often do you fill up your gas tank? Once a week? Twice a week? What’s the average cost?
      • What about regular beauty regimens – hair? nails?
      • What do you regularly spend on groceries? $50 a week? x 4 that’s $200 out of your $500.
      • And then you’re left with FUN. Although the name is a bit misleading as I probably use that one on cleaning supplies as much as I do dinners.
  • Now look at your savings. The goal being (B). Plus for me I added OT, and I keep a line for cash on hand.
  • And finally – donations. This is where you put aside money for things such as kick starters, gofundmes, friend’s fundraisers, tithing – whatever moves you. You don’t have to rip through this every month. You can put it aside for when someone you love really needs something. Or wait till the end of the year and make a big donation.
  • And then to help keep things in perspective, I added goals for the fun, big things. I want veneers, an extension on my tattoo. I constantly have dental work and hope to travel a bit more. These are reasons to save.
  • And then one final overarching GOALS box for savings, charity, and spend. To help keep me it all in check.

Running Budget Doc <— here it is again just in case

NOTE: Also..  you can *Auto Sum* the lines within the column to confirm the formulas are adding correctly, although I’ve tried to set this up in advance. 

I strongly, strongly recommend mapping out your December. Looking at your trends. Can you cut down on groceries? Paint your nails at home? Do you have a larger goal than dinner at Felix? This way you go into 2018 aware of your tendencies.

I also recommend keeping a list in the notes on your phone for all the things you really want/need. Things you need to save up for…and then later I add them to the excel.

It helps me opt out of casual, spontaneous purchases. It also encourages me to just get an appetizer, maybe dessert… rather than a top tier entree. I don’t necessary think I’m entitled to that sort of indulging quite yet. I’ll get there… but for now I have the incredible ability to dine at Scopa and enjoy the burrata, pavlova, and a couple glasses of wine. I don’t truly need a pasta dish as well.

Additional cut downs coming soon. Stay Tuned. 

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Categories: Resolute Frugality

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