Yes I did it, I faced my fears and spent time learning to budget. You can too. Here’s my story. And a couple great book recommendations.
Nearly a whole year has passed since I’ve been on the second-tightest budget of my life. The first was when I tried to pay off my student loan, live in England, and travel every weekend at the same time. That was tighter.
Something people ask me pretty often is: how did I manage to buy a place and take a two-week holiday to Malta in the same year?
Honestly? I’m on a very tight budget.
Also, I was prepared for it. Kind of.
In September 2009 I received an email from Angie asking if I’d consider being one of her bridesmaids. After careful consideration (two days) I wrote this:
Six weeks after that response, everything changed and I admitted I didn’t know what I was doing.
But I planned anyway. For the Malta-wedding I held back money in my super-secret savings account I could access neither by card nor online, and put every other last cent into my brand new house.
Buying a place is really cool, but it’s also incredibly stressful. If I have any extra money (I said “if”) I am afraid to spend it on anything fun in case my washing machine’s transmission breaks (happened) or my toaster oven blows up (also happened).
Since about the dawn of the 2010 wedding season I’ve noticed my stress about money has stolen my joy at the small steps I’ve taken to settling more and more in my new place and it has been difficult to relax or have fun. So, when I had the opportunity to take part in the Good Sense Budget Course, I figured I’d be a fool not to.
On a side note, I paid $20 for my course book but I see on Amazon you can get it for $10.19. I don’t know how I feel about that…
The course ran from the end of September until the beginning of November and I found it a good challenge. It wasn’t difficult, but it did confront a few of my fears and misconceptions about money. If you ever get the chance to take part in this course I would recommend it, but if not (and if you’re feeling super stressed about money or are afraid to open your bills) check out Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book Debt-Free Forever: Take Control of Your Money and Your Life from the library. It has a lot of the same advice and doesn’t mess around. Both of these teach you how to be brave and face your finances. They also challenge you to shake off the burden of debt and break the hold it has over so many of us.
I wouldn’t say this course changed my financial situation, but now that I’m aware of where my money is going (actually aware of, not just vaguely conscious of) I’m able to relax a bit more. I’m more comfortable going out with friends and I know—down to the penny—how much I can spend when I go out.
It’s liberating, really.