“The best thing money can buy is financial freedom.”

Do you remember your first paycheck? I do. I had big plans to go to New York City for Christmas, so I landed a job doing accounts payable in the morning and running the McDonalds drive-thru in the afternoon. I loved it. I got to see everyone I knew in Monroe County. I had already projected how much money I was going to make over the summer. All my dreams were coming true until I got that first paycheck. I didn’t account for taxes.

Flash forward to my first real job. I knew to expect taxes, but I didn’t know about all these other things coming out of my check. I didn’t understand insurance, or 401k’s, or savings. Once I understood how much I was really bringing home at the end of the next two weeks, I got a little help crafting a real budget. I had all the important things on it – rent, electricity, food, and gas, plus a few fun line items too. In my 10+ years following this first big girl job, I’ve learned to be much more frugal, and have a much more intense budget, one that includes a savings line item that doesn’t fluctuate!

Here are a few things that have helped me:

  • I set up an automatic payment from my checking account to my savings account. I never even think about it, but I’m consistently growing my savings.
  • I shop smarter. I use a Trello list of exactly what I need, and try not to buy things that are not on my list.
  • I negotiated my cable bill. I really don’t watch that much TV, so I worked on getting that bill down.
  • I bring my own lunch 4 days a week. Eating out is just expensive.
  • If I do splurge on something, it has to be on my list of things I either need or have been wanting for some time.
  • I worked on my personal budget and saved as a Google spreadsheet, so I can check it daily and it’s easily accessible. I find I do better when I’m constantly reminded of my goals and where I am with this budget.

Circling back to the quote — are you budgeting for your personal financial freedom?

Think about what you are spending those hard earned dollars on – clothing, travel, or maybe fine dining? Where would you feel financially free? Are you planning for the future? Are you spending money on things that you really want to spend money on? Things that make you happy? Things you feel like you need?

I have started to find a balance on my spending habits vs. my income. I’ve realized the things that are really important in my life.

I wanted to share a few articles that might just help you find your financial balance.