How to Budget Money You Don’t Have (just kidding, I don’t know how either.)

As humans, we naturally don’t like what we aren’t good at. I’m not good at budgeting my money therefore, I don’t like talking about it.

I’m good at making money. I’m good at spending money. I’m not good at managing it.

I’ve always worked full-time jobs that supported my drinking habits, legal issues, junk food, shopping sprees at Ross (omg, *eye roll*) and housing. So why is it so hard to pay for things I actually need to pay for? Let alone, save any of it? WHAT ABOUT MY FUTURE, GUYS!? AGGGHHH.

Time to get real, friends. I’ve never seriously sat down to think about my financial future. I was always drunk and thinking I was going to die the next day and that’s not really a great attitude for financial stability.

I’m in a massive amount of debt. And I recently just got a lovely letter from the State of California that my wages are going to be garnished for a ticket I got two years ago that I’d completely forgotten about. I’ve moved so many times that I guess I never got the notices.

OK, I was drunk when I got the ticket. I got pulled over for not having plates on my car, I was meeting my friend Melissa at Souplantation, drinking a box of wine on the way, and the really friendly Carlsbad cop felt bad for me I think because my car was like, trashed. The ex-boyfriend had smashed the windshield and broken my driver side window, plus I had drunkenly crashed into a car about two months prior and have never gotten my driver side mirror fixed so it was dangling (btw, did I tell you I’m an alcoholic?) When the cop gave me a fix-it ticket, I crumpled it up, gulped down so more wine, and got some soup for lunch.

Flash forward two years later and my wages are being garnished. Yay, irresponsibility, FTW!

So, facing this new obstacle that I’ll suddenly have about 25% less per paycheck for a while, I’m like scrambling to figure out what I’m going to do. I’ve reached out to an employer for some part-time work but realistically, more money isn’t going to solve the problem if I can’t even manage the money I do have!

The thing is that I’m an excessive spender. I buy shit I don’t need to impress, myself, honestly. When I’m bored, when I’m sad, when I had a good day, when I had a bad day. It’s legit like, another addiction, and it must stop! I cannot spend money like a normal person. So I’m taking extreme measures.

Of course, I decide to do this on the heels of planning a trip to Vegas (my timing is impeccable, did you know that??)

Regardless, I’ve started some emergency plans of action to start changing my spending habits.

Here is Vanz Set Free of Financial Chaos Plan:

1) The first thing I’ve done is stopped going out to eat. I love going out and eating at restaurants, it’s like, therapeutic. BUT NO MORE, I say! No more. Besides a bagel and coffee at this deli near my house that I go to once a week, I’ve done super well with this recently. Of course, I’m going to Vegas soon and I plan to eat at a buffet while I’m there, but for the past two weeks I’ve been mainly buying groceries and just eating what I buy. This probably sounds really simple to most people but for me, it’s super difficult because I can be pretty lazy . Solution: I bought super lazy people food like cereal and tuna and PB&J. I don’t care that it’s not super healthy, it’s easy and it’s good enough to get me in the habit of eating the freakin’ groceries I buy instead of throwing away $7 worth of KALE, damn it.

2) I don’t browse in aisles I don’t belong in. The other day I went to CVS for a jug of water, and within 10 minutes, I was struggling to answer my mother’s phone call because my arms were LOADED with shit I didn’t need! (Seriously Vanessa, you don’t need that $7 bag of Lindt White Chocolate & Coconut truffles, copper pens, and scented erasers…ugh) I embarrassingly walked around the store putting everything back except the jug of water and a mini stapler I actually did need for school, leaving the store with my bank account intact. Lesson learned: don’t go browsing when you ain’t got the money, yo.

3) I SPEND MONEY ON THINGS I NEED FIRST. I seriously need my medication and I have a co-pay and I have to pay for those meds. My DUI classes are seriously expensive and annoying to pay for, but I have to pay for them on time otherwise the lovely judge that has so much faith in me is going to be super disappointed if I bail on my DUI class. Utilities suck, but they have to be paid, and they’d better be paid on time because that’s the type of person I want to be now, someone that pays things on time. I’m trying to rebuild my credit which I have not-so-delicately TRASHED over the past 10 years, so hey, I’m going to make a payment on time to the credit card company before I even think about paying for a pair of shoes. I KNOW, this sounds like a no-duh to you but remember, I was living in a state of chaos before which never made me see how important, easy, and simple paying bills on time was.

4) I made a list of people that I still owe money to. By people, I mean giant corporations that have sent me to collections. Yay, collection calls are SO. MUCH. FUN. Ms. G, this call is being recorded .. . . this is an attempt to collect a debt . . . click! Most of my debt is in student loans, medical bills, legal fees, and credit cards. I also, want to pay back my parents for helping cover a lot of costs while I was in jail for 3 months. I have these numbers written down and I’m not sophisticated enough to have developed a plan to pay them all back yet but it helps me to know what I got going on so I know how I can focus my money moving forward. Right now, I’m focusing on the credit cards because they are a smaller amount and make me feel less sad about paying down than my, you know, $13,000 student loan debt.

5) I hide money from myself. I always put away a certain amount of money first, pay all my bills, live, and if I run low — I go to my secret stash. If there’s anything left over, that goes to savings. I KNOW, I KNOW — But Vanessa, you really need to save your money first, blah blah, I make more sense than your bullshit budget YEA, PROBABLY. But this is what’s working for me, right now, so get off my back. I’m not dense enough to imagine that living without some type of security in savings is totally safe in case of a disaster, but I also am in a massive amount of debt right now, did you know that? So baby steps, dude.

That’s basically all I can handle for now. This is by no means an endorsement of what I am doing, because I don’t even fully support it, but it’s definitely a HUGE improvement over my old theories behind money, “What, I still have $100 left over for the next 10 days? I’m gonna go shopping, I totally need some new dresses….phone bill, you’re gonna need to wait.”

Feel free to share your financial wisdom with me, though. Specifically, if you’ve been terrible with your money in the past and somehow managed to climb out of the Ditch of Debt.

ALSO — Let’s talk more about money! Stop making it such a taboo subject, we all have it in some form or another.