Budget, the Bad Word of a Twenty Something’s Life

A while ago I got a grown-up job.  You know the type… I can only wear jeans once a week, but I can pay every bill on time, every month.  Yeah, one of those.  The trouble with this is that for the first time in my adult life I’m not living in fear every moment that I’m going to bounce a bill or not be able to eat.

Trouble you say?  Crazy girl.  That is not a problem.

And I agree- having a job that pays a living wage is not a problem.  The real problem is I don’t have a budget.  I’m not a stupid girl, I watched Suzie Orman on Oprah between classes in University- I know that I should be putting money away for retirement, and paying down my debt, and building an emergency fund… and i know, Mom!

I’m just not good at it.  I know how to work a work budget (and apparently confuse any non-native speakers while I’m at it- sorry, immigrants!). I am an expert at managing and mitigating the ketchup smeared stacks of receipts.  I can figure out those secret codes the bank lists for the gas station where you stopped to pee and grabbed three candy bars, an Icee, two beef sticks, and a phone number and  a water to make up for the fact you didn’t need gas (stupid fuel efficient engines).  At work I manage and audit a dozen different expense reports- and I always seem to get those done, without major catastrophe- and hey, the company is still solvent.

But when it comes to my own money, where the dollars and cents really hit MY bottom line… I suck.  That’s a four letter word you’re not supposed to use in school… but I’m not in school any more… and I really really really (that’s three reallys) need to build a budget.  I have my bills, and I always make sure they are paid, but then everything else that’s left somehow get’s spent by the end of the month, and I spend the Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday before payday on a diet created by the fact I cant remember to a) pack a lunch and b) save lunch money!

I just don’t know how.  I checked out mint.com, and it seems cool, but I think it’s more limited in it’s ability to allocate funds in the same account than I would like it to be (it really wants me to open another bank account, but I’m happy with my current bank, and don’t think having a multitude of accounts will help my financial situation).  I think if I had a good google or excel spreadsheet, with aligned categories and expenses and things, that fit my life and my financial goals (more about those later, maybe), I could put myself on an allowance- maybe.  Or maybe one of those cash envelope situations would be good, though having everything set up on direct pay is might convenient.  Ugg- I need help!

So are any of you accountants?  Or spreadsheet artists? Or in the same crisis (I know that’s probably not very helpful for either of us, but solidarity, right)?

Someone save me? Please?



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