Last night I realized there is a reason “set and keep a budget” is number one on my to-do list and why I’ve been avoiding it for so long.
Jenny Blake, of Life After College, has a Four-Step Budget Template in ExCel that I sort-of took advantage of last year. I say “sort-of” because I think I filled it out then never looked at it again because I am Veruca Salt.
There it is: I am Veruca Salt.
You see, Veruca and I are both entitled children, although our entitlement comes from different places. Her (heaven help me, I am seriously writing about a fictional character) entitlement comes from never having heard the word no; mine comes from never saying the word no.
In the Four-Step Budget Template the first step is to fill in your income. This is what lulls me into a false sense of security. I work in an office during the week, at a chapel during the weekend and I get a semester stipend for the volunteer work that I do with our event planning board. Now, throw in sixteen credit hours, “free time” (work outs, hang outs) and don’t forget sleep! And you’ll see why I feel entitled to a new MZ, extra guac and the occasional four hour flight away from deadlines and the like. Because when I say “yes” to one thing, it’s always a secret promise to myself to say yes to something else just for me—which isn’t bad, technically, it’s just not always reasonable.
The second step in the budget template consists of the “must have expenses,” like: I must pay my rent and utilities if I’d like to keep up with the “I am human” illusion—also, my cell phone bill so I can either constantly ignore my friends’ text messages or constantly lament the fact that they never text me (Step #1 in being Veruca Salt, ie THE WORST: always feel burdened).
In step number two therein lies the rub. For in sleep what dreams may come and in must-have expenses all those dolla bills from step one must go.
Step three is where the “nice-to-have” expenses come in, like yoga classes twice a week, that previously mentioned MZ, or even enough money left over for a concert and a book—which I want: all of the above, no exceptions please.
Step four is the allowance, which is what’s left over when all the expenses are taken out of your income.
If I cut one job (which I’m really thinking about doing: life’s too short! Carpe diem! I’m over it! Et cetera, et cetera!), that reduces my allowance down to twenty dollars a month. TWENTY BUCKS.
That’s also considering the fact that ten percent of my paycheck is put away in savings as a “must-have” expense. I got my first job at sixteen and ever since I’ve been practicing the ten percent saving strategy, which used to be chump change but is pretty hearty now. Also, I’ve counted my September festival trip into a second savings tab in “must-have” expenses, because I want to make sure I can afford it. I’d honestly rather cut some “nice-to-have” expenses (like eating out or booze) for a couple of weeks/months for a few days of exactly what I want a few months from now.
Which, I guess is how I would instruct the other Veruca Salts of the world in growing up, because that’s what this. I am getting dangerously close to technically being an adult.
First step: learn patience.
We know you want the world, girl (or boy—Veruco, anyone?) and that you “want it now” but it’s 2011—everyone wants that! Where there’s smoke there’s fire and where there’s demand, there are inflated prices. Also, feline aids.
Second step: Learn that when you say no (to waiting, work, anything), it means you have to temporarily say no to something else that you want. Like I said, everybody wants everything, meaning you will have to wait for something.
Final step: be original. Veruca is an original; you can tell that by her killer imagination. If it weren’t for her indulgent father, she might have been able to just let that blossom without always needing to have some concrete representation of everything that ever popped into her head (side note: I would pay all twenty of my “allowance” dollars to see a Jumanji remake starring her and her father because you know she’d beg him for a real-life version of the game instead of the plain-ol’ regular game).
Everyone wants everything, so you know what’s cool? Not wanting everything. At the very least, look at what you want and figure out whether it comes from a desire within or outside of yourself.
Rest assured, your life (and heart) will go on without those shoes/that game/that phone/that accessory.
When in doubt, don’t over-think it, do not be a vermicious kinid and Augustus, please! Save some room for later!