As an adult in my early 30s (32 to be exact), I realize it has come time for me to take the official plunge into home ownership (kicking and screaming of course). This has been something I’ve been brewing on for at least a year, but I’m admittedly frightened by the entire process and as a result I haven’t quite pulled the hypothetical trigger…until last week.
Found a realtor, Check! Everything else should just fall in place now, right? Nope. Now comes shopping around for home loans, saving money (which I should have been doing longer than four months now), home inspections, builders, fees upon fees, moving expenses and so on. The entire process (now having heard it over a dozen times) causes me a great deal of anxiety.
Of course the most important part of this equation is careful budgeting so I CAN save enough for a down payment, other fees and closing costs. Seems simple enough right? I’m careful enough with my money, right? Wrong!
During my lunch break today, I printed out my last three months of bank statements and took a fine tooth comb through every swipe I made with my debit card. To add fuel to the fire, I decided to highlight each swipe in a designated color that i assigned to a specific area of spending (ex. “Entertainment”). And yes, my handwriting is atrocious (I was writing quickly since I did this at work).
As I combed through each line item I realized that the majority of the swipes were under the “Entertainment” category. I lump things like movies, dinners out, exhibits, concerts, alcohol, misc, clothing purchases that aren’t for a specific event, unnecessary Amazon shopping, etc. Basically anything that I don’t need that involves fun or indulgence. It was shocking to me to see that I spend about 20% of my paycheck each month on “Entertainment” and about 10%-12% on groceries/household items. Shockingly, I don’t spend as much on gas as I thought. I’m actually doing fairly well in that category considering the fact that I work about 45 minutes away from where I live. Of course, not shocking 60% of my budget goes towards actual bills like rent, car payment, utilities, student loans, medical bills, vet bills, car insurance, credit credit, etc (things that are necessities).
So what does this tell me?? Well, one I’m apparently a social butterfly–but mostly that I need to chill on my spending on social gatherings (even in the realm of my relationship where we “share” the responsibility of treating for dates–we take turns). It seems simple enough to fix this, but will take some serious adjustments. For starters, I could limit eating out to once a week and only go to places with deals. I could also not order alcohol out (because that’s easily $10 a drink in some places) and “brown bag it” during times where friends are preGaming before a night out anyway. I could also shop MORE based on sales/deals, clip coupons (I really hate doing this), use money saving apps, more closely track my spending…maybe even start using cash more so I’m more aware of my spending habits??? I had been meeting with two friends weekly on Sundays to have an open discussion about how shitty we all are at saving money (to hold each other accountable), but I’ve preferred lazily laying in bed on Sunday mornings with my boyfriend (because we’re both lazy) instead (do you blame me?).
It all seems overwhelming, but not impossible. It will be painful, but it needs to be done to get to where I want to be within the next year. I just need to approach this in a realistic way that will work FOR ME. Maybe I’ll document this very painful process along the way.