"Ain't Got Enough Money to Pay Me Respect"

I've been doing a lot of budgeting lately.

It's not as bad as I thought. The way I hear everyone talk about budgeting, I figured it'd be difficult for me.

As a bit of background, one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2019 was to become completely financially independent. In December 2018, I worked a decent part-time job, and I had the easy life of keeping basically everything I earned, and having mommy and daddy paying for all the important things (food, gas, etc).

Anyway, I used my newfound Excel skills to start keeping track of my income and expenses. My first few spreadsheets were very awkward and clunky. They started simple, but very quickly, money started to kick me in the face.

I'll skip pointing out the plentiful design flaws in my spreadsheet. Trainwreck.

This is my second attempt. I didn't quite finish it. This one was going better, but it got interrupted when I got my second job.

I am all about the grind. I love the feeling of being busy. I thrive under pressure. In late 2018, I was going to school in the evening, and working whenever I got off school until 1:00 or 2:00am. I got good grades and enjoyed having schoolwork to work on, but it wasn't quite enough for me. I needed more on my plate.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a personal hero of mine. I respect his stance on money vs. happiness. If you look on either Instagram or Facebook under #entrepreneur, you'll see that most of the posts are all about chasing money. Gary would probably agree with George Watsky when he said, "I'd rather be making the choices I'm proud of than chasing a mountain of money... but if that mountain comes to me, I'm climbing it!"

No, Gary is an advocate of chasing happiness. I respect that.

I thought about Gary's concept of having a "gig" or a "side haul" to earn money on my own while I wasn't at work, but couldn't think of what I wanted to do yet. In the end, I decided to go back to Papa John's, where I worked in high school. I figured I'd probably would make better money doing two jobs (I enjoy both very much anyway) than I would doing one and a side haul.

Despite the complication, my budgeting got easier. I simplified a lot of things, while still making the graphs/planning more useful.

I had to create another sheet just to manage some data about tips alone. This sheet above references the sheet below to factor in wages with tips.

Now that I actually had my budget under control, then came the real nitty-gritty of trying to cut expenses as low as possible.

1. Food. I think this is most young people's largest variable expense. My insurance, my phone bill, my gym membership, my rent -- all of these are fixed. I know exactly how much it'll cost me each month. Food however, varies, and can vary by a large amount. As soon as I started seriously tracking my spending, I became almost unable to spend more than a few bucks per meal.

Now, I spend about $2-3 per meal on average. I try to cook from home, try to eat a lot of produce, and it doesn't hurt that my first job buys dinner for the team frequently, and my second job is literally a pizza place (I'll skip over health in this post though).

2. Stuff. I spend almost nothing on leisure/pleasure. Since I'm between the ages of 18-24, naturally, I get bombarded with ads specifically targeted towards my generation. If you are close to me in age, I'm sure you've also been hit by Root Insurance Co., Digit, and other ads that claim how much you can save. Looking in to my spending habits, however, I hardly buy anything.

I read two books a month, so that costs maybe $20. I don't use Netflix, I don't subscribe to any MLMs or surprise boxes, no YouTube Pro, hardly anything. I found out that I had discovered the secret to saving money.

Are you ready for it? Here is the secret that the retail industry doesn't want you to know: If you want to save money, don't buy stupid things. You don't need AirPods. You don't need the newest 2K game. In fact, here's another list of things I see people in my demographic buying that is just completely unnecessary in my opinion:

  • Stance socks
  • Multiple pairs of athletic shoes 
  • Iphone XXVVIX Red Louis Vuitton Edition
  • Concert tickets
  • Travel (All my friends in Las Vegas right now, looking at you)
  • Almost all subscriptions to anything
  • Ski trips
  • Apple Watch (or any smartwatch)
  • Jewelry 
  • High-end computers or software

I don't think it's unfair to say it's not hard to be conservative with your money. When I was in 7th grade, I didn't do a paper. My teacher asked me why I hadn't done it, and I said, "I really wanted to, but I [excuse]!" My teacher, Mr. Porter, narrowed his eyes to a glare and responded,

"If you really wanted to do your paper, you'd have done it." I hated that response. I hated Mr. Porter, honestly, but later in life I grew to appreciate this response. This anecdote goes hand in hand with a saying I like:

"There is no such thing as 'not enough time.' It's just a matter of your priorities."

If you really wanted to save money, you'd be doing it. You just have to want to save money more than you want to eat at Olive Garden once a week. You just have to want to save money more than you think you need an Apple Watch. 

Figure out what makes you happier and chase after that thing. If you really do get that much pleasure out of blowing money on stupid things, look, no hate; do what makes you happy. If, however, you choose to spend your money that way, you forfeit the right to complain about it. 

"Why should I sit... on the couch and be asking why life isn't equal? 
"With lesser possessions, I'm light as a feather and so I can fly like an eagle!"
-George Watsky