Simplifying Finances

It’s the first Fiscal Friday of 2014, y’all! As I sat down to write this post, I kept thinking about the one word I chose to represent my year: Simplify. Simplifying isn’t just about clearing clutter or donating half my closet. It’s something I need to be conscientious of in all areas of my life, even the areas I don’t necessarily want to simplify. Especially the areas I don’t necessarily want to simplify.

One such area is finances. I like my things. They’re pretty and they’re lovely and they’re fun and I need them. Or at least that’s how I feel right now.

I’m not going to lie, Internet. I am not excited about simplifying my finances. Yes, I know the adult thing to do is to think about and plan for the future. But you know what? Life is hard and sometimes I just really want to buy those shoes. Or go out to eat instead of cook dinner. Or spend a Saturday afternoon reading one of my ten magazine subscriptions.

But the hard thing is, I didn’t choose to simplify so that I could keep doing what I’m doing. I chose to focus on simplifying so that I could face the hard things and make a lasting change in my life.

I read somewhere once that one’s current circumstances are mirrors that indicate his/her beliefs. If someone looks at me, my life, or my circumstances, what do they see? What message is my life giving? What values do I want my life to represent?

When it comes to simplifying finances, the first step for me was to eliminate the unnecessary.

Unsubscribe: When it comes to magazines, I’m not giving them up all together, but I am paring it down to only the ones I love and read regularly – Real Simple, Southern Living, and Southern Lady.  No more stockpiling Glamour or Vanity Fair or Martha Stewart for months without having time to read them.

Cut Recurring Accounts: Those recurring accounts / subscriptions that automatically renew each month sound lovely at the time, but $10 here and there can add up, especially if it’s something you never really use. For instance, I signed up a couple of months ago for the Influence Network at $10 a month. Not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but I have never signed into the forums or participated in anything the site had to offer. I told myself I would, but I just never had the time (read: I never made the time for it so it must not have been that important to me). And you know what? That’s okay. Just because others love it does not mean that it’s for me. There are a few other online accounts and subscriptions that I’ve cut out and I’m excited to see the difference it makes in my wallet in the coming months.

Impromptu Shopping: I am high on the list of offenders for the “quick” drop-in to Target, TJ Maxx, or the like just to “look around.” The thing about me, though – and I know this – is that looking usually leads to buying. The best way to take care of that? Stop looking. If I just need shampoo or toothpaste, I’ll run into CVS where I’ll only get what I need instead of $75 worth of things I hadn’t planned on (and who doesn’t love Extra Care Bucks? I know I do!). I won’t go into TJ Maxx or Homegoods or Kirklands unless I am specifically looking for something. Otherwise, I will walk out of there with $100 worth of things I never planned on buying.

Groceries: For a while now, I’ve worked off of a thrown together last-minute list and just roamed the aisles buying other things I need. I’ve been pretty faithful to Winn Dixie and their Buy One Get One offers each week. I stock up on things I need and use when I can BOGO Free, Simplifying Finances and I’ll keep doing that, but for the things that aren’t on special, I have decided to start going to Aldi. I’ve heard amazing things about the quality of stuff and the money saved at Aldi. To streamline the process, I’m going to set aside time to plan my menu and shopping list for the following week. I work better when a plan/schedule is in writing, so not only will this help me on grocery day, it will help me stay focused on cooking each night rather than saying “I don’t know what’s for dinner” and doing take out.

I think the big thing for me when it comes to simplifying my finances is reminding myself that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else loves, is doing, or has purchased in the day of social media. But I can’t let that be my burden. I don’t know their life or their situation, I only know my life and my goals. And I’m at the point in my life where, at the end of the day, I want financial security over the $700 shoes.

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