Money and Stress and Setting Goals

Last night I cried myself to sleep because I was so stressed out about money. It doesn’t matter that I get paid in four days; right now I only have $16.81 in my checking account. Oh, and have I mentioned that I still haven’t completed my goal of opening a savings account.

So, that’s awesome.

I really, truly hate the way I am living financially, right now, at the phase in my life. I feel like I am barely treading water. I feel exhausted and beaten down. I’m doing the best I know how, but sometimes even that doesn’t feel like enough!

I have a full-time job. It’s a good job, a job that I am good at and that I enjoy. It doesn’t pay a lot since it’s a non-profit, but I have great health insurance and an AWESOME retirement. Even so, I am living paycheck to paycheck. It’s not that I go around spending money of frivolous things. Well, okay, I treated myself to a pumpkin spice latte once last month and when I (dangerously) went to Target a few weeks ago I bought some white fudge oreos and new nail polish. But that’s the exception. Normally I am a penny pincher. I know which bills are due when and I plan accordingly. I also know that I have an enormous student loan payment each month.

It works like this:

The first of the month I pay rent, car insurance, car payment, gas, and groceries. (This is where I am now… obviously it’s not working.)
Then two weeks later I pay student loans, electricity, internet, cell phone, gas, and groceries. (I usually have a little left over and that’s where I might “splurge” and go to happy hour with friends.)

There isn’t really a lot of wiggle room. I don’t have cable. I don’t go out to eat. I don’t go shopping for new clothes. I can’t rearrange the bills because it wouldn’t change anything. There isn’t room for any emergency funds either. If I have to go to the doctor and pay a co-pay? It stresses me out. I’ve been wearing my glasses for the past three weeks because I can’t afford to spend $50 to buy new contacts. And Christmas presents? Well, I haven’t figured that out yet.

I thought moving in with my sister would help, but it doesn’t seem to have changed anything yet. It’s probably all the deposits we’ve had to put down (FYI, $275 deposit for electricity is absurd!), but even though I’m paying less rent, I’m still scraping by.

I am so overwhelmed and frustrated and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore last night, so I let myself cry. I know that it’s okay to cry and vent your frustrations. I know that. But I also know that I can’t wallow and feel sorry for myself forever.

Here is my new plan of attack.

Savings: I am going to open a savings account. However, my bank requires a $25 deposit to open a savings account. If I don’t want to be charged a monthly fee, I must deposit $25 a month into the account or have a starting balance of $300. Neither of these seem possible right now, so…

Research: I have been able to make $50 here and there from sponsored blog posts. This is a great way to earn a little extra cash, but I know there are countless other corners of supplemental income I could be utilizing. I want to open myself up to the freelance world, chat with friends who are already immersed in it and see what they can teach me.

Student Loans: One of my loans is already in deferment because I can’t make the payment, but that ends in January. I have already begun the process of consolidating my loans which will help decrease the payments. I would like this process to be complete by January 15th so that I can begun making the full (hopefully, lower) payment each month.

I am praying that with these new plans and goals in place, I will have a more consistent and less stressful financial routine each month. If you have any great success stories of learning to manage your finances or creating a budget that fit your income, please let me know. I am tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out over money!

 

[photo credit: tobanblack]

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