Back To Basics- Cash Challenge

One of the things I appreciate about personal finance is there are so many different budgeting techniques, it’s not a one size fits all type of thing. Which, I really appreciate given my Latina heritage. Does anyone else have the larger bottom thing going on?

Anyhoo, with my upcoming trip to Israel this summer, I’m back to bleeding cash left and right! Earlier this year it was buying everything needed for an apartment that was 100% mine and now it’s buying everything needed for a study abroad program in a country where it’s really hot yet women can’t show much skin. Did I mention we’re spending a good amount of time walking everywhere?

From having to buy outlet converters for my electronics to buying a Camelbak, traveling is certainly not cheap. However, it’s the trip and opportunity of a lifetime so I can’t complain. But, while struggling to pay for an expensive study abroad program, I still need to be able to hold the fort down at home. With this in mind,  I am going back to budgeting basics ala Dave Ramsay even though he once called me a moron on a social media channel. I forgive you Dave!

Dave Ramsay and all of his followers are very big on something known as the “envelope system.” The envelope system is basically pulling cash out for the week or month and putting it in envelopes labeled for specific items, such as gas, groceries, etc. Each month you can decide the amount of money to stick inside your envelope and use it when purchasing your items.  After you have spent your allotted amount in that envelope, it’s gone. Finished. Finito. And you can’t spend any more and will have to figure out how to make do. Of course, you could just pull out your debit or credit card but that fully defeats the purpose of the envelopes. Stick to your envelopes people!

Some people prefer different variations of this system and some people don’t like this at all. I myself usually prefer to use a debit card since I feel I have a pretty good feel for my budget and this way can’t lose or misplace cash. However, I have been pretty swipey lately and haven’t been a good steward of using things up, mainly groceries. I still don’t eat out as much as I used to back in the day but I have been almost lately. I blame summer. The amount of food waste is alarming for someone with just a cat so I wanted to work on this as well as asking myself if I really truly need an item or can find a cheaper way to amuse myself.

I will be pulling $150 out for the week until I leave for Israel later this summer to live off of. This amount will be covering my groceries, gas, misc items and fun. Misc items in my budget are usually things I don’t buy too often such as household, hygiene and beauty products. My prescriptions will not be included in this amount even though I just dropped $300 on asthma medicine today (#affordablecaremybooty). Fun is hanging out with friends, such as movies, bottles of wine ( mmm wine), going out to eat and anything of entertainment value, like buying books or renting a film. I won’t be including my Netflix subscription or Spotify since those are monthly. I don’t even pay for cable people or own a television so don’t throw stones!

As of writing this Sunday evening, I can already say leaving the house with $150 was definitely challenging. I came across a hair care product I love on clearance and walked around the store and eventually put it back. I couldn’t find it in myself to spend $25 when I still had some left at home, although after further inspection not a lot. Also put back on the shelf was lemonade. I haven’t bought juice in a long time and was really craving some at the grocery store. However, I put it back since I would rather use that $4 towards a margarita with friends during happy hour. Trade offs people!

Wish me luck. Are you on a strict budget too?



#TheRoad To Financial Wellness Is A Journey But Worth It

The following blog post is part of the The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Phoenix! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

When I starting blogging almost seven years ago, I had no idea the changes that would be made in my life or the opportunities I’d have because of it. I only started blogging because I had stumbled upon personal finance blogs and was desperate to climb out of the hole I was in, only after hitting rock bottom twice in one year. Hitting rock bottom sucked so badly but I’m glad it happened to me. I’ve had plenty of bad things happen since then ( a failed engagement, a job becoming toxic, a car accident that left me needing cortisone shots, etc.) but it’s when those things happen that remind me financial wellness is a journey but so worth it.

I originally had the odds stacked against me. I was orphaned at 15 after living in a house hold that went from middle class to living paycheck to paycheck to a single mother who was in the hospital dying slowly over the course of a few years. I bounced from relative to relative, who used me for a social security check, until I was 19 or so, and finally decided to live with my step father who had his own issues. I moved out officially when I was 21, after dropping out of school, losing my job, my best friend in a nasty car accident and my car, all within in a month. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time and found a part time job that got me by until I found a more current one and started saving for a new car again.

Since then, I’ve come extremely far. I re-enrolled in school and became the first in my family to graduate with an AA.  I have two semesters left until I walk with the stage with my bachelors but I currently have a 3.73 cumulative GPA and I’m studying abroad in Israel this summer.  I also have continued my career in non-profits, currently running a program in Phoenix, AZ where I live, in a cute apartment with a cat with six toes in a fun neighborhood with a retro feel and diverse population. I own my own car and I’m getting my braces off next week, something that has costs me over $6,000 but was well needed and so worth it.

But, all of those good things have come after all of my hardships. Because I was all over the place when I was younger, I craved stability in the wrong way and usually was in the way of living with a boyfriend playing house. Because I never found stability, I self destructed in other ways and never really though about the future until I was reminded over and over in bad experiences. Failed engagement & break ups, toxic work environments, extended breaks from school, clutter and never having enough in my checking account were the wake up calls I received over and over.

On my current road to financial wellness, I’m doing well. I make sure I follow a budget and track my spending and make tweaks as needed. I try to pay all of my bills in advance and live beyond my means, usually by cooking all of my own meals, not shopping for stuff and finding low cost ways to have fun help extremely. I talk to a therapist about my anxiety and depression and all of past that has shaped it and I work on healthy coping strategies. But I’m still not perfect. I need to start saving for a new car, work on my emergency fund and I’m way behind for my retirement.

But, if the road of financial wellness has taught me anything, it’s a journey. You are going to have extreme lows and extreme highs. That’s part of what being a grown up is. You are going to pay for things that aren’t your fault but have happened to you regardless. You are going to have good things happen to you that make others wistful. And sometimes, you are going to look up and wonder what exactly you are doing. But the journey is well worth it and all you can do is keep trying. Don’t give up.


June Goals!

Whew! I took this past month off from life and apparently we’re in June so I thought I’d get back in the saddle ;).

Even though my goal for May was to relax, it was more like playing catch up with everything I had put on the back burner so I could focus on school. I’m caught up now in some areas of my life, including projects, yet so far behind in others 🙁 . I thought making goals would be a great way to stay on task for this month since I have a lot going on next month, including my study abroad program and the first day of the new school year at work!

1. Finish big Plutus Awards project. I have two big things I need to plan this month ( one also needs to be executed!) and one is this! It’s been a lot of phone calls ( it’s hard calling people back and forth across country and following leads!)  but I finally found someone great to work with and this should be done soon, fingers crossed. If you don’t know what the Plutus Awards are, please click here. I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved for the past few years, via event planning and social media management, and have recently been named the Program & Grants Manager for the Plutus Foundation. It’s a good time to be a Plutus team member!

2. Help plan a great #TheRoad event! Besides a Plutus Awards, I am also involved with a great financial literacy startup named Phroogal. Besides writing for their blog, The Smile Lifestyle, I’ve also been recently tasked with helping plan an event for their stop in Phoenix, AZ as part of their Road To Financial Wellness tour. Please click here to learn more!

3. Finish everything for my study abroad program, including the whole study part. I am leaving soon to take part in a study abroad program with my university and I still have so much left to do. I finally bought my plane ticket, got my passport and secured all of the funds, but I still have loose ends to tie up. I need to make a Dr. appt ( so I can bring my prescriptions through customs), take the study abroad quiz, oh and I don’t know, maybe read the textbook that has been sitting on my makeshift coffee table.

4. Stick to a routine Monday-Thursday. Since classes ended for the semester and I’ve only been working, I haven’t been in a routine that much but it’s time to get back into one. Routines really help with my anxiety and not feeling all over the place, which is one of my complaints when I am having a rough day or week. A routine helps keep me productive but in reality, it helps keep me sane and able to focus on my goals. I have more time to relax Friday-Sunday so my crunch time is usually Monday-Thursday. I’d like to accomplish working out in the mornings before work and at least spend two hours in the evenings to grow my online business. That leads me to my next goal.

5. Hit 10% of eventual freelance goal. Although I have been blogging for almost several years, which is a long time in blog land, I’ve never built an empire or business for myself since it’s been more of a hobby for me than a money maker or livelihood. However, it might be about to change starting next year.

When I went back to school last year to obtain my bachelors, it was a future investment in myself and my future career. I knew there was really no way I could ever obtain a director’s position in a non-profit without one. And, I only wanted to be in school for another two years because it was manageable. And let me tell you, I barely exist working and attending school full-time. It’s hard balancing everything.

But, something changed this past year when I went back to school and really focused on myself. I’ve been presented with some amazing opportunities like my study abroad program I’m partaking in next month. And, I was also invited to join a program for masters recruiting because of my 3.73 cumulative GPA. I never in my life considered going to graduate school but, if I can receive a stipend to do research while furthering my education, I think I’m going to go for it. And, utilize my online business to help balance the budget if I decide to. This gives me a year or so to get to a good place. A goal is a dream with a deadline, right?

What do you have on the docket this month?