I’ve never been very good with money. Or, more specifically, at savingmoney – I’m very good at spending it. In fact, money seems to spend itself very quickly and easily on my watch. It’s like it doesn’t even really belong to me – I’m just the temporary guardian who watches with interest as it happily marches off to do whatever it wants, after which I gladly return to pondering the mysteries of the universe or patting the cat or whatever.
This is kind of surprising though, since I come from a long line of strong budgeters and classic tight-wads. My father – the king of budgeting and close-fistedness. My mother – the silent saver who is utterly unfamiliar with the word “excess”. My grandmother – a bonafide Matriarch of extracting a comfortable living from the scent of an oily rag.
And then there’s me. In this swirling gene pool of financial prudence and common-sense, a genetic enigma was born; someone so alien to the concept of steady financial management that I have only just started using rudimentary envelopes made out of colourful scrap paper to allocate my upcoming expenses. I display them gleefully to my long-suffering house mate, who affirms my cleverness with a patience bordering on saint-like.
My father introduced me to a new concept on the weekend. When I say new, what I really mean is that what he has been incessantly bashing away at for fifteen years finally sank in and produced a mutually welcome light-bulb moment: it isn’t how much you earn that’s important, rather, it’s how much you can save.
Since resonating with this simple yet profound logic, life has taken on a completely different meaning for me.
For example, when I enter the supermarket, I now have a set amount of money that I am willing to spend, and then shop accordingly.
Moreover, I am more aware of prices and costs, and am starting to compare prices in order to get a better deal.
This affects the quantity and quality of what I buy, and determines what kinds of items I purchase. Instead of purchasing whatever items I feel like regardless of cost, I now only purchase items that fit into my budget.
Something completely crazy happened today: I didn’t buy a hot drink when I was out, because it didn’t fit into my budget, and I realised I’d had more than enough to eat and drink this morning, and didn’t need it.
This budgeting business is frigging blowing my MIND.
And, according to the budget which I have set for myself, I will end this pay cycle in surplus, instead of spending all of my money simply because I can.
As my mother communicated to me this morning in a text message filled with relief and pride, “It’s better late than never.”
Indeed. And along that vein of thought, I am aware that there are many children who possess better budgeting prowess than I do, but I don’t care. I’m entering a new phase in my life – the phase of budgeting adventures – and while I doubt my innate capacity to fall into the category of tight wad, I’m kind of hoping that the future might bring with it the words, prudent or financially astute bandied around in my direction.
I really don’t think that’s too much to ask. You can’t imagine the thrill I get when I picture all those people who have said about me, “Wow, that girl’s crazy,” instead saying, “Wow, that girl’s financially astute.”
It’s all about setting achievable goals, and planning for success. So I’m getting ready for a future where my financial prowess is lauded.
Watch this space.