Experiment 6: Final Thoughts

I'm sitting at a coffeeshop already ordering a full on fancy breakfast while typing up this post. Guess I'm temporarily rebelling from this financial diet but I promise I learned so much! In terms of practicality, this experiment is #1. 

Now that I have a month of money under my belt, it's time to reveal my own HOT TIPS. 

Sarah's Money Tips for a Fabulous Life

1. Track your spending

Where's all your money going? Food? Clothes? Debt? I realized that I basically eat and drink my money away. I use Mint.com and link all my bank accounts, investments, and debts so I have a clear financial map of where my money is going. By meticulously tracking my spendings, I am able to see exactly where I can cut back in my budget.

2. Budget every month

Ugh, this one sucks but I've come to realize that this is the most important rule for personal finance. Every book I've read on money starts with a budget but I've ignored it for so long thinking I could come up with ways around this rule. I tried to convince myself that I can just make more money but when you make more with no budget, you just spend more! That's why so many people who come into wealth go bankrupt. Just like diet and exercise with your body, there's no getting around earning and saving with your money. Simple in concept but difficult to execute. It doesn't matter if you allot specific numbers to every category or just stick under a number like I did this month. The truth is, you just have to consciously put a limit to your spending ahead of time and stick to it. I also used Mint.com to create my budget. I love Mint.

3. Pause before spending

A few of my friends told me to do this and I found it so helpful. I am a very impulsive person. I almost booked a ticket to Rome a few days ago (during my month of money!) and I only stopped myself because a big potential gig landed in my inbox right before I purchased my ticket to Europe. Yeah, its a problem. My usual M.O. is that I think of something, anything really, then I go on amazon and PRIME that shit. Two days later it shows up on my porch and I can't even recall what's in the box. I went through my amazon history and was appalled at how many books I purchased that I never read and how many gadgets I bought that I never use. All of this was just a habit I needed to retrain. Now every time I want something, I write it down and wait a week. If I still want it, I'll buy it. But most of the time I don't even want it after two hours. My wants for this month included:

  • A lemon Press
  • Clarisonic face brush
  • Gold bangles
  • Bobby Brown Concelar
  • A facial
  • Shorts
  • A trip to Rome

haha this list is so shallow. 

4. Invest

Get out of debt and put that money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds so you can sit on your ass and have that money work for you, not the other way around. That's what rich people do and it seems pretty fabulous right? I use Betterment to invest in Vanguard Mutual Funds. I have a ROTH IRA that I try and max out and sometimes play around with other stocks but I won't give you advice because I don't know what I'm talking about and I can't be liable for you going broke. I do highly recommend betterment though and the truth is, I haven't lost money yet so maybe you should listen to me ;P. 

5. Get organized

Remember when I was hiding all my money like a little squirrel and had no clue of my total net worth? All that chaos was getting me nowhere with my money. You need to know what you have and what you're striving for. It's really easy to feel defeated when you don't feel like you're gaining momentum with your cashflow so it's important to get organized and start attacking financial goals, one at a time. 

6. Ask yourself why

 Budget friendly road trip! 

Budget friendly road trip! 

This is the biggest HOT TIP of all. Why do you sit at a desk staring at a screen 8 hours a day? Seriously, why do you make money in the first place? What do you really want your money to give you? If you would have asked me this question, I would say that I make money so I have financial freedom, so I can travel and see the world, and so I can work on creative projects. This sounds nice but the reality is I've slipped into the haze of many Americans, increasing my lifestyle to match my earnings so that that instead of more freedom, I live with fancier burdens and more stress. I would talk about my freelance lifestyle and my love of travel but in actuality I haven't left the country in over a year. It was really enlightening. I decided to take a trip to West Texas and get my priorities back on track. So happy for this realization.

7. Give

At the end of the day, these are all first world problems and I am a rich bitch compared to most people on planet Earth. In order to remember this I give money away every month. I really do enjoy giving away my money to those in need more than buying things for myself. Sometimes I forget so I trying and exercise the act of giving frequently to never forget how lucky I have it. 

So, that's it! I'm actually going to try and stick to the same budget in August. I'm going to continue selling things on Craigslist and finding ways to save. I loved this month! 

Final Spendings

Coffee- $5.25

Viva Big Bend Festival Ticket-$58

Drinks- $17

Beer-$7

Birthday Drinks-$10

Groceries-$38

Roadtrip Gas-$15

Fancy Meal in Marfa-$37

Money Available: -$1.25