Give and Take
This year is already shaping up to be great- I have a lot of fun plans with friends, and some solid plans for paying off my student loans. I’m finally going to see my best friend after over two years of living in far-away states. So far I’ve approached this year organized, motivated, and optimistic.
My main focus in my planning has been paying off my debt without making my life focus “money”. I’m going to lessen miscellaneous expenses, but not at the cost of not spending time with the people I love. I’ll just seek to do so in budget-friendly ways.
I created a spreadsheet with my expenses listed in 3 columns- set expenses, fluctuating expenses, and misc. expenses. The set and fluctuating are things I need to spend money on. Bills, food, gas, etc. I will work to keep those as low as I can, and I have guidelines for what’s acceptable and expected in those areas.
Miscellaneous expenses are things that are completely optional- going out to drinks, entertainment budget, purchasing items that aren’t necessary. Household items and clothes fall into miscellaneous, because though they’re needed on some level, they’re not vital. I’m going to watch my miscellaneous spending closely for a few months before I decide what a good monthly limit on this is. I do view this column as money that could be going to savings, so I want to keep it low, but I understand that if I want to maintain the standard of living I have and enjoy, I’ll still be making unnecessary purchases.
I’m incorporating this give and take attitude into my relationships as well. Sometimes people argue; sometimes they need time apart; sometimes they can spend every waking moment together for months on end. I am attempting to remember that friendships are not static. Just because you’re not speaking with someone today doesn’t mean your friendship has ended. Likewise, being friends with someone for years doesn’t mean that some time apart would be bad. If you’re avoiding someone so you won’t fight, it might be good to either get the fight over with, or take an extended break.
In both my budget and my relationships, I am making sure to view things as always changing, always in flux. One moment doesn’t define another. Just because I didn’t reach my savings goal this week, doesn’t mean I won’t next week. And just because I’m ahead right now, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue increasing my income full-force, so that I build momentum, not flop before I’ve reached my overall goal of paying off those student loans.