How to Adjust Your Budget After Taking the Leap and Following Your Dreams:
This post appears on Young Yet Wise, I had the pleasure of being featured. YYW is a Financial Blog with Tips for Urban Millennials.
You read the story everyday, the one about the person who takes the big leap to follow their dreams and ends up with the exact life they’ve always wanted. But what happens in between the leap and the landing? Well, a story isn’t a story without some struggle, and that’s okay, because adversity is what builds character.
After you jump and move to the place of your dreams, you find yourself getting slapped in the face by reality, paying rent, scrounging up coins for bills, spending on personal expenses, all while witnessing your savings account go from 100 to 0— real quick.
So, what do you do then? How can you pursue your dreams while accumulating and saving money at the same time? It almost always comes down to one thing, just one thing. And in this situation, there’s only one thing you can do: hustle.
To me, hustle is finding a way to handle your responsibilities, responsibly. I am a freelance marketer who helps clients maintain brand consistency on marketing collateral as well as digital / online presence, including social media. But the ugly truth about freelancing is that the income isn’t consistent.
You have to actively seek work just to break even, and I’ll be the first to admit the stress that builds when relying on only one source of income. When stress comes knocking at your door, it’s harder to open your mind for the creative juices to enter. Even worse: it drains your positive energy.
1. At least two sources of income
Keeping your energy in a positive state of flow is essential to your well being, even more so when you are on a new journey. When you stress builds in your mind, it blocks your blessings from flowing. As a first step, I had to get real, and find ways to increase my monthly income.
In addition to freelancing, I wanted to have at least two other sources. A friend recommended catering as an easy start, so I applied and got the job. I also joined a recruiting company as a passive way to find out about additional part-time opportunities. You could also make extra cash by using the skills that you already have, and figuring out if you can turn them into a service.
2. Lifestyle Audit: Needs vs. Wants
Okay, you have the income flowing, what’s next? A lifestyle audit. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the first of the month seems to roll around pretty quickly when you’re paying rent. It’s time to discover the areas in your life that aren’t essential. You have to do a lifestyle audit, and determine your needs vs. your wants.
For me, the latter was the weekly nail salon appointments, the biweekly stops at the hair salon, the every-other-day- drop-ins at H&M and Urban Outfitters, the drinks after work—you catch my drift. These activities are not necessities, they’re luxuries. Once you have the extra income flowing in again, you can choose to treat yourself to the wants. But when you’re in save-mode, sacrifice is inevitable and, honey, being broke isn’t sweet.
3. Save & Budget
Another money saver is when it comes to grocery shopping and eating out. I try to limit the amount of money I spend on both. When shopping, I buy food items that I can stretch across the week and across meals; think must-have items that your lifestyle can’t go without.
I also go to the Farmer’s Market for fresh items that are typically sold at a cheaper price. My weekly grocery budget is $30, and as an example, some of my must-have items include:
- almond milk
- frozen fruit
- kale or spinach (farmers market usually has a good deal on kale bundles)
- onions & peppers
- choice of meat (I stick to two max)
Once you have the must-haves, you can treat yourself to some of your favorite items with the left over money.
As far as going out to eat, I try to limit that to 2-3 times a month. Yes, a month! I love to cook (and the food doesn’t come out too shabby if I may say so myself), so why spend extra money if I can choose not to? Think about your own lifestyle, including the coffee and smoothies you buy, is it possible to substitute that for groceries that will allow you to make them yourself?
4. Events / Nightlife
You don’t need me to tell you that you can spend $100 in a matter of hours in NY, especially when it comes to the nightlife. The great thing, however, is that there are a bunch of free events and even classes that you can attend, you just have to search for them. Trust, Google can find you anything.
I stumbled upon a free improv class last month that helped me with my stage presence, and forced me to be uncomfortable with a group of strangers. They even gave attendees two free tickets to one of their shows!
I also attend free poetry workshops at different libraries. Libraries are a great resource for free events, classes and tickets, mainly when it comes to the arts and education. I’m not saying don’t pay for events ever, simply make sure that the price doesn’t exceed the value.
Following your dreams is no easy path, and with it comes making wiser choices. A minimalist lifestyle can be a temporary stage to get you to the major leagues of living. By starting small, you are able to gain more control over your life, and discipline yourself, physically and mentally. To me, that’s a win-win.
Be sure to schedule regular me-time for all of these great free finds. Here’s a checklist that can help: “The Me Time Bucket List”
Huge shout out to my beautiful sister over at YoungYetWise.com for the feature! If you want more financial tips, download her free e-book by clicking the image below. As she would say, be wise, stay humble and build.
Candice Marie, Founder of youngyetwise.com