I have always struggled with money. I grew up with parents who also struggled, but wanted my brother and me to live as if we were as privileged as everyone else, so my relationship with money is...complicated. My parents kept me from working or driving until I was much older and I've rarely felt as if I was in real danger from lack of money. As a result, money seems to slip through my fingers like water and I'm always pretty stressed out the couple of days leading up to a paycheck. I've tried little things to improve on that for sure. After KonMari-ing my room, I don't impulse buy books and clothes as much as I used to. I no longer buy adoptables or spend money on gacha games, either, which were the two huge money sinks for me. However, I still eat out a lot and little purchases like enamel pins, jewelry, or books add up over time. I'm definitely better than I was a year or two ago, but I'm still not where I want to be. I've got basically no savings and would be in a lot of trouble if I was hit with a sudden health or car-related emergency.
Today, I sat down and spent some time filling out a budget spreadsheet for myself. I went through my checkings account and PayPal account statements to look for monthly bills, dug through my pay stubs, all that fun stuff. Right now my savings account has a 1.75% APR, so I'd be stupid not to be saving more and making some interest money. I've been throwing 10% of my income in there...sometimes...when I feel like it...which isn't ideal, of course. And I blew through all of my savings when I went to PAX earlier this year, so what paltry sum I'd managed to save up by then was long gone. I haven't been super motivated to invest in it again since then, but I have almost $200 sitting in there now. That is not a lot, as far as savings accounts go, but I am bad at saving!! It's a lot for me! The spreadsheet also showed me how much I should have leftover every month after all my bills and budgets, so I set my bank account to automatically transfer money to savings on every payday. This way, the money is immediately put away and I'm not tempted to overspend. (believe me, I'm eaaaasily tempted to overspend)
I managed to cancel a couple of memberships that weren't super necessary or that I didn't use too much (Audible, Amazon Prime, stuff like that) and brought down my monthly bills by about $50 just from that. There are three other bills that are
sort of on the cusp. I think I could do without them, but I want to give it one more month so I can engage with those memberships and analyze how much I need them in my life. Everything else is more or less essential or would cause me significant stress or inconvenience if I got rid of them, so they have to stay (gym, Dropbox, webhosting, etc).
I'm a proud customer of the Simple bank and I love them, but I don't think I've fully taken advantage of the app until now. The weird part is that I've always been very particular about my transactions being tagged correctly, but I don't often analyze my spending like I should. For example, just now I learned that on average, I spend about $60 a month on coffee/tea. Iiii should probably do something about that. Anyway, one of the things that makes the bank great is that they have this feature where you can add "goals"—things you want to save up or budget for. Before, what this did was you could add a date to a goal, like say "I want to save up $40 by the end of the month so I can treat myself to a fancy dinner" and Simple would withdraw like $1.25 per day and put it into the goal. The money wasn't actually being withdrawn, but it was being moved from what they call your Safe-to-spend money. That way, when you viewed your bank balance, it would show you how much you actually have to spend when you take bills and things into account.
The bad thing—sort of—about this is that the money is still in your account. It hasn't actually gone anywhere, they're just labeling it differently. So all that happens if you overspend is a message comes up saying "you have spent $10 more than your Safe-to-spend." Not too threatening. They've added in a feature that will transfer your money into a separate Simple savings account, but since I already have a savings account of my own, I decided not to go for it. With all these cool features, Simple still requires a healthy amount of self-discipline.
Well, I'm beginning to think of that more as a feature than a bug. I'm not always going to be able to rely on an app to make my decisions for me, I have to be able to understand the consequences of my actions enough to spend and save money as I ought. So I created a bunch of budgets in Simple for myself like "Eating out" or "books" and they have this new feature where you can create your own goal funding schedules, ie: add money to your goals every payday. That suits my purposes way better than just pulling $3 from my Safe-to-spend every day. I'm actually excited to use this feature more!
I want to be more disciplined about not touching the money in my savings account. I want to budget better and not be eating nothing but crackers for 4 days leading up to a paycheck. I know it's possible, I just have to temper my impulses. ...Oh, how hard that can be.