Confession time: Bills and Budgets freak me out

Not much of a confession, is it, since I feel like most 20 – somethings tend to fail at keeping their bank balances in the positive. Right? Here’s the thing though, my boyfriend and I are taking on a little extra financial responsibility by moving into our own little place (about time, I know), and we’re bringing along dependents in the form of two fluffy and two feathery companions.

Which means we can’t stuff this up. Cue big time panic.

Luckily, he has his head screwed on straight and got me to sit down and work through the mounting anxiety that comes with sorting through bills and budgets. I happened to come across a really girl book the other day: Manage your money like a f*cking grownup by Sam Beckbessinger which has really helped as well, as the author explains hard-to-understand concepts in easy, bite sized bits of information that make it understand rands and cents. She also coaxes you to put on your big-girl panties and sort out your damn budget before it’s too late, so here’s how we’re doing it:

Using the 50/30/20 rule

So, this is a pretty nifty little guideline: split your salary (after tax, of course) and allocate it in the following ways:

Necessities: 50%

This includes paying for rent, petrol, groceries and prescription medication. You get the picture, the stuff you can’t get along without.

Wants: 30%

Those after work drinks, that outfit you’re eyeing for the next social event, and in fact the social event itself all fall in this category. This allocation is used to pay for things you want, but can live without. Basically, your everyday spending money…. Just make sure that these things don’t become your priority. Apparently my growing reading list does not.

Savings and Debt: 20%

This amount is set aside for investments, financial goals for the future, as well as student loans, car repayments and retirement funds.

A thing of the past

Those late-night Ubereats are becoming a thing of the past… and unfortunately so are the early morning coffee runs. We’re sticking to the week’s meal plan, and opting for the – admittedly pretty good – office coffee rather than the social outing that coffee runs have become. I don’t think we quite realised how much money we were throwing away, until we actually started totalling it.

Walk it off

Okay, so this may seem counterproductive for someone trying to get back into fitness, but I’ve decided to stop my gym contract. The thing is, I haven’t been at the gym enough to actually warrant spending money on it, and bf has both a regular gym contract and trains at a Martial Arts gym. Cutting out gym costs gives us roughly R600 extra to use for saving or necessities. And I can now put the Fitbit I received for my birthday to good use.

Getting creative

This tends to work out pretty well for the two of us, if we actually take the time to sit down and work through a meal plan for the week. That means we’re eliminating indecision and food waste by only buying what we need, in the quantity that we need. We’ve combined our grocery lists and made adjustments where we can to keep our bills as low as possible. For him this means cutting out a little bit of meat everyday, and for me that means figuring out how to keep dinner from becoming a tedious chore. Not a fan of repetition, guys.

We’re getting good at DIY and second-hand shopping

From date night, which used to mean dinner and a movie, to the decor for our new apartment, we’re thinking up new ways to spend time together and saving our budget in the process. So far, we have a project to upscale the aviary for our feathered buddies, DIY canvas art for the walls and planning our outdoor dates like hikes and picnics, making them simultaneously more rewarding and more affordable. We’re also trying to save as much money as we can by picking up pre-loved furniture, either from friends and family, or second-hand stores. After all, new is not necessarily better.

If you’re keen to learn more about budgeting like a grownup, check out likeafuckinggrownup.com.

This adulting thing is scary, but we’re making it work., so if you have any tips or tricks, please let us know in the comments!

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