Money Tips for the Post-Grad

I've grown to dislike the word budget. Even though it sometimes makes my type A self happy, "budget" carries a negative connotation around with it. It sounds restrictive, when it reality it's freedom in an unconventional package. It's saying no to what's unnecessary in favor of what's actually important. Finding what you can just live off of for life to be truly meaningful so that you can give the rest away.

The first entry I posted when I renovated this blog was about the concept of minimalism (which I now prefer to name essentialism)- living with less in order to create space and time for what's most meaningful and letting the rest fall away. The idea is so attractive in my mind, and while I've taken steps towards essentialism, I wouldn't say I've taken strides. The biggest two reasons being that A) Satan distracts me and convinces me that I need new things to make me feel new, that abundant life will be found in just this new decoration or just this new shirt and B) I haven't HAD to. I've had the money to live above my means. 

But recently I resigned from my first post-grad, well-paying job to take one where I'll be making much less. I felt like the Lord was calling me elsewhere, and while I don't at all want to diminish the importance of money- to me it is not the MOST important. Not when it's possible for me to live off of what I make and still give. 

You could call it a typical millenial move- taking a job for happiness instead of money. It's certainly not all about happiness either, sometimes you just have to choose joy and keep choosing it where you are. But when I felt so out of my element I could barely keep up the relationships around me and grew increasingly bitter to work- I knew it was my responsibility to change.

It's a double edged sword of some sorts- on one end I was sacrificing my happiness and making money, and on the other I'm sacrificing finances and hopefully opening the capacity to choose joy. It's the 30th of July so this morning I flipped to the 30th chapter of Proverbs (one chapter for each day of the month as my grandpa so wisely once informed me!) and it read what God knows I need to hear:

" ...give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God."
-Proverbs 30:8b-9

So this verse holds my heart cry in this season where God seems to have given me this- neither poverty nor riches. (Well, not riches compared to what I'm used to- still rich in the eyes of the rest of the world). But as I pray this over my life each day, God's given me some ideas in order to set boundaries on my spending so I can afford essentials and still have the ability to give to others.

1. Freeze my gym membership
Because I've used it twice this summer. I'm much more often running outside (which is necessary anyways to prepare for the half-marathon in October I haven't started training for...) or walking through the neighborhood with friends or going to yoga at the breweries or doing Blogilates online. In the winter when I won't be outside as much maybe I'll pick it back up, but right now it's just not necessary.

2. Limit going out to eat/drink to only with others
Including coffee. I don't go out to eat a lot- I think I've been to one legit restaurant in Charlotte because cooking is cheaper and I know what ingredients are going into my food... But I do go to a lot of coffee shops and healthy grab-n-go places like Panera and Chipotle. So I'm limiting my outings to only when I'm going with other people which cuts out spur of the moment runs and some laziness. I still get to enjoy those things, but in much greater moderation which will make them that much more special.

3. Go a season (or two) only replacing clothes, not buying new ones
This has been a consistent goal of mine-to get to a point I can go seasons without buying clothes- after seeing friends and bloggers (Unfancy, Becoming Minimalist) successfully take up the challenge. And now I feel I'm at the point where I can. I'll need a pair of boots for the fall since the heel is now a hole in my ones from last year and depending on if my jeans can make it a 4th year they may or may not include themselves in the "replace" list. Other than that I should be good to go- and praying for contentment through every step and cute sweater I see on Instagram.

4. Cut cable
My roommates and I all agreed on this one. We don't watch that much tv and when we do we can watch it the next day on Apple TV so we handed over the cable. If we just must watch something the night it's running (Bachelor) then usually sweet friends host us at their place. Less expenses, less wasted time, more community. Win.

5. Walk and bike
Once I bring my bike down from NOVA, it's my resolve to bike the three miles to work at least 2-3 times a week for multiple reasons. I save gas, I get a workout in and I get to be outdoors. I also have a Trader Joe's a mile from my house so on days I work a late shift I like to call a friend while I walk and pick up a few items if I don't have a long list.

6. Grocery shop better
Actually taking time to plan out not only what I'll eat but how much of it I'll need takes a little more time on the front end but ends up saving me much more. There hasn't been a week yet this summer that I've eaten absolutely everything I bought for myself for the week. So I've learned- when in doubt, by less. I can always swing by the store to pick up something quick if I run out and then I'll know exactly how much more of it I need. I've also learned the value of one- yes, I will only eat ONE bunch of kale in a week even though in my head I feel like I'll eat more. There's a lot of value in choosing one.

7. Invest more time in passion projects/freelance
For me, this means my small business- investing more time into my wedding planning company and making more of an effort to connect with local brides. Up until this point I've mostly let my business network itself through word of mouth and having an online presence but this season is an opportunity to more actively engage with brides seeking out a wedding planner. For others, it could look like selling art or handmade clothing, charging for photography or graphic design, dog walking, babysitting, or any service you love that can benefit others. 

8. Wait two weeks
Even if it's a "worthy" item. For me, books are my weakness. I want them the day they're recommended to me, and my Amazon Prime membership makes it so easy with just one-click and two-day shipping! Genius. But a lot of them I bought spur of the moment and I've only read about 80% of what I ordered. If I've been pining for it for two weeks not able to get it off my mind, however, I'm anxious to read it when it comes- and I'll actually read it. This is especially true in stores. I didn't know I needed a candle that smelled like coffee when I walked into West Elm, but when I saw it- I NEEDED IT. Miraculously, I walked out without it and said if I still wanted it in two weeks I could reconsider. It's been a week, and (shocker) I don't need it. I have three candles and make real coffee...

9. Get a library card
If you're not a reader this may not apply to you, but I'm always reading one to three (it's a problem) books at a time. I didn't actually know library cards- or even libraries really- still existed until last month. I probably haven't been to one since I finished my 5th grade summer reading list. But my roommate brought up that she had one (thanks Mer!) so I resolved that I could get over my urge to write all over every book I buy in favor of saving $30 bucks a month. Because library cards are FREE! Praise.

10. Single-task
Do one thing at a time, and finish what you start. When I'm stopping mid-email to finish reading an article while eating my breakfast and thinking about what to wear to work and responding to three texts then it's a lot easier to hurriedly complete the order I've had opened in a tab the last two days instead of taking a moment to really think about it. Or to just spend more buying all my groceries at Harris Teeter because if I knock out all my shopping in one place I can knock off the rest of my to-do list so much faster; instead of waking up earlier on Saturday so I can go to the more cost-efficient farmer's market before work. Favor purpose over convenience. Doing ONE thing at a time is good for the soul. Finishing the emails before I start the articles, setting out clothes the night before and waking up earlier to be able to accomplish all I want to in an unrushed pace helps keep me from being careless which is the state I make most of my unnecessary purchases in.

There are many more ways I'm sure I'll minimize my spending. Going to free events in Charlotte versus going out to dinner or an expensive concert, carpooling to weddings, going in on gifts with others, and spending free time with friends other places than a mall. But ultimately, it's not the actions that matter- though they'll help me to discipline. It's my heart. My goal is not to have less things, it's to want less things. And to gladly give up those things so that I'm dependent on God and not so comfortable that I don't need Him. My desire is that with the unnecessary fading, the important- the essentials- will come into clear view without the obstruction of clutter. And that all these solutions which are shallow and ineffective if my heart isn't changed- will become life-giving as God uses them to rescue me from the false promise of security and purpose that wealth can bring.

I'll challenge y'all today- don't wait until God needs to give you a wake up call. It'll be a journey- learning to live simply in order to be able to give generously but it's how I want to live no matter what my income is. I hope the only thing that grows is how much I'll give away. Just be on guard if you decide to do this- know Satan will try to distract you, unconvince you, and deflate your Spirit but our God gives us divine power to demolish strongholds. And if we treasure Him more than money, our hearts will be found in Him as well.

1 comment:

  1. Your words are beautiful and challenging, Kelly. Thanks for sharing <3