If I had to choose which article pointed me in the right direction of budget-sensibility, I probably wouldn’t choose any of them. Plain and simple, budgeting is so incredibly personal and every time I read a new article about it, it literally gives me indigestion.
You mean, I wasn’t doing it right? I bring my lunch to work and I save and I even gave up cappuccinos like Suze Orman told me to!
Then I rethink it all and start to realize how varied and nuanced all of our situations are based on geography, education, student loans and personal lifestyle. I mean, I was all over the Refinery29 article that featured a piece by a woman living in Boston on a $80,000 a year salary. She had purchased a condo, was renting it out to two friends to make her mortgage and living pretty meagerly. But there-again, we’re dealing with situational variances and the article is not typical. Still having two roommates in Boston when you’re in your 30s is typical, but only because it’s the third most expensive city in the US. But say you lived in Omaha or Utah or even Nashville, that’s not going to be so normal. The article particularly lost my attention when she described the emergent kitchen upgrade which maxed out her weekly budget at $845, because, let’s face it, that is pretty random and how can you compare yourself to something so personal?
Then there was the Girl Boss article that debunked the 50/30/20 rule. So the original idea was that it’s 50 percent goes for food and housing, 30 percent goes towards financial obligations and 20 percent is left over for lifestyle expenses. Thank Goddess they rebuked that because the problem with that, again, is that most of us already pay 50 percent just for housing in larger cities, so this break down isn’t going to fit us at all. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all type of budgeting for us ladies.
That being said, I have found one golden rule–saving and investing.
I’ve been investing for a while now, and I’m super-excited to check my profile daily. It’s probably not going to buy me a Malibu beach property, but it’s been fun to watch my stocks rise and to see which ones have done poorly and why. Certainly, our economy has been as predictable as the weather lately, but us women need to get even more brazen about saving and investing. Yes, investing can be intimidating at first, as it was for me, but once you get the swing of it, you’ll be quickly addicted. We are our own analysts now with the internet. All of this information is literally at our fingertips.
Fidelity recently reported that women not only save more than men, 0.4 percent, their investments earn more annually, also 0.4 percent.
And I cannot emphasize saving enough. Get that 20 percent down for the first-time home purchase. The easiest way I’ve found to save is to keep a healthy lifestyle, so you won’t be dishing out thousands on healthcare costs. Also, stocking up on cash items, like toothpaste, food and household products has helped me, but certainly, don’t give up all of life’s luxuries, especially now that the “Latte Factor” has been debunked.
And so it is with budgeting. What works for you is going to be intensely personal and as diverse as the women we are. Situations vary tremendously, but apps like Mint are literally paving the way for us. If we can use our own internal wisdom and financial savvy, we will continue to thrive at this investment/saving game. The bottom line is to create a plan that is doable and works for you versus following a generic formula.
Stay fierce, divas -xo