A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bean Counting or Goal Setting?

I spent far more on dining out during the month of May than I'm comfortable with. My spending was still well within my means, but that $64 could have filled my gas tank 1.5 times. So why did I spend so much money dining out? To begin with, my time wasn't budgeted very well last month. I spent far less time pre-cooking food for the week than I normally would. I also spent less time at home, period.

But at the end of the day, I'm not killing myself over $64. I was asked in a comment recently if I simply try to beef up the numbers in my savings account, or if I have specific goals for saving. The answer is a little bit of both - but my primary goal is to live within my means without feeling as if I'm compromising my lifestyle. I make about $1400 a month in wages, and nearly 3/4 of that is taken up with rent & bills, so stretching those last few hundred dollars can prove to be something of a challenge.

Squirrelling away large chunks of my paychecks to fund travel, major purchases, and nowadays my wedding is a major priority. Being able to afford airline tickets without compromising my rent is a big one. Taking a two week trip to the east coast that I don't necessarily need to take (though I'm sure my grandmothers would beg to differ) isn't exactly in line with the extreme frugality that I often advocate. I encourage extreme frugality as a means to an end, not as a doctrine that should be followed simply to put money away for no specific reason.

I've found that quite a few young adults - myself included until a while ago - have extreme difficulty living within their means, much less saving anything. Burn Five's goal is to present as many different means of saving and as many different reasons for saving as possible, in the hopes that twentysomethings who stick their heads in the sand when it comes to their finances will be inspired to take control and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

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