Budget 101

This post is going to be non-video game related but will teach you how to afford your video gaming habit.

As a child do you remember saving up your allowance, birthday money, lunch money etc. for the things you wanted like video games or even video game systems?

Then you get your first job and enter adult hood.  You become eligible for credit cards.  You start buying the things you wanted with credit cards.  You end up paying more than you should because of the interest.  You end up under a huge pile of credit.  The pile will only get smaller if you pay more than you spend.

That was me.  I racked about $4,000 in debt.  This is about the same amount I graduated College with in student loan debt.

It was ridiculous.

If I kept at my same pace.  I would have a negative net worth until this day.  I needed to make changes to my life style.

I was lurker at www.thepennyhoarder.com for years.  I started to apply what I read to my life.

The first thing I did was sign up for one those apps that give you money.  Free money not bad.  There’s a ton of them.  I use Mobile Performance Meter.

The free money thing didn’t work out.  I wasn’t comfortable releasing my personal information to multiple companies.  I still use the app to this day but usually use it to buy the fun stuff I want from Amazon.

I asked myself what do I have more control over?

Reduce Cell Phone Bill

I paid off one of my cell phones that was on my plan and reduced my monthly expense by about $28.  I got rid of the insurance reducing it by another $10.  Things happened along the way eg. ended up replacing one of my wife’s cell phone but at the time it helped a ton.  You could also consider changing carriers, going prepaid, or getting rid of your cell phone.  They also recommend not making any drastic life style changes but something’s got to give. Remember those sayings from your childhood like “when you are broke you need to learn to live without.”    Also, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”  You could also get a non-data consuming cell phone and do without a data plan.  Remember living without data on a mobile device right?  It wasn’t that long ago.

Cutting the Hair Cut Expense

I noticed I kept charging my $20-$30 haircut on my credit card.  My son who is now 4 years old also had a hair cut expense that was running me $10-$20.   If both of us had to get a hair cut that was $30-$50 at once.  Man.  That’s a lot if you are trying to pay off debt.  I ended up purchasing a Remington hair buzzer for about $35.  After it’s first use it paid for itself.  I have been cutting my own hair and my sons hair for over a year now and I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  Learned a new skill and saved money.

Pay of Low Balance Credits Cards or Loans

I had maybe 1 – 2 low balance credits cards besides the one that was at nearly $4,000.  There was an Amazon card that I was almost done paying off and a student loan.  I ended up paying off the Amazon card and freed up $100 per month.  I paid off the student loan and freed up $50 per month.  With the cell phone costs and reduced I now basically I had an extra $188 to use towards debt.

Sign up for a Zero Percent Interest Card

I ended up taking a tip from my friend and did a balance transfer to a 0% financing Credit Card for 20 months.  I am happy to report as of this day I have $100 left on that $4000.  I used a card from Citi bank.  I would check www.creditkarma.com for recommendations.  I basically paid $200 a month utilizing the $188 I saved, I was already paying $100 per month towards debt.

Cut Cable

Another cost saving trick is to get just get Internet and Netflix.  You are already paying for just the internet.  Don’t pay extra for cable unless you are really in to the News and your man crush is Joe Moore.  Also, don’t subscribe to Hulu, Amazon Plus and Netflix all at the same time.  Just one at a time.  You could also install Kodi.  I won’t get into any details about that bad boy.

Get Rid of Monthly Subscriptions

How do you think the electric, water, cable, cell phone carriers, etc became so rich?  They got you hooked monthly.  I am not talking getting rid of electric or water.  That is crazy talk but you could go off the grid.  I am talking about things in your control.  Like stopping Crunchyroll or Netflix for a few months until you get your finances in order.  Get rid of the World of Warcraft subscription or instead of paying for 6 months at a time pay with game cards or monthly instead.  Cut it off when it disinterests you.  Get rid SWTOR or DCUO subscriptions.  You can’t play 3 MMOs at once can you?  You could also play GW2 and save yourself some money.   I cut my monthly subscriptions and saved about $45/month.  That didn’t include Netflix.  I kept Netflix.  I did get rid of SWTOR, DCUO, Crunchyroll and World of Warcraft for a bit.  At the moment I am not subbed to any MMO.  I did go back for 1-2 months at a time but did not charge for 6 months on my credit card saving money on interests and only playing when I could.  I ended up saving money and could use more towards debt or just general living expenses.

Use a Radio

Remember when entertainment was free?  It still is free.  Those radio waves are still traveling across the sky.  Remember getting in tune with your favorite radio station and static?  I hate static.  When I read dropping pretty much everything for a radio, I imagined a less chaotic world.  Currently at my new job I play the radio all day.  It’s the best version of free entertainment that costs no money.  Also listening to 5 songs a day is supposed to reduce stress.

Start a Side Gig

I haven’t started this endeavor yet but even making $100 – $200 a month can help you save and put money on the side.

Pay Yourself First/Start a Emergency Fund

Remember saving? Saving is your friend. Paying debt should be a higher priority but if you can afford $5 – $25 a pay check, do it.  In about 20 months if you save $25 a paycheck you will be at your  $1000 emergency fund. Better than nothing. Your next goal should be up to 6 months of expenses. I’ll spare the details there are blogs out there were people talk their own personal experiences on how they did it. I was saving $50 per month. You could also put whatever bonuses you get in to the emergency fund.

Home Lunch

Pack your lunch. I’ve been slacking since I started my new job. I could easily spend $10-$20 a day eating out. In 20 works days a month that is $200-$400 per month on food. Now you see it? That is my debt repayment plan. If you pack your own lunch and eat breakfast at home you could save that or cut it by two thirds. When I was a broke college student, I would pack 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  At the time I spent about $40 a month on groceries just for my home lunches.

2nd Part Time Job

I haven’t worked 2 jobs in a long time.  My old supervisor was having money issues and I recommended that she would pick up a part time job.  I told her if you work 20 hours a week (a couple of night shifts and shifts on Saturday and Sunday) and made $400-$600 a month.  How long would it take for you to pay off your debt?    I referred her to my store.  Sears in Kaneohe.  She got the job.  She ended up getting promoted to work in Jewelry from an MCA.  She made enough extra money to pay off her debt and ended up going on a cruise.  You might consider the new expenses like food costs or initial costs if you need to get a new uniform but in the long run you still end up making more money than you did before.  Also, depending on where you work.  You could end up spending less money on going out since you are always working.

Any one else got good ideas?

Thanks for reading.  I really had to get this off my chest.  I wish everyone much success and personal gains the rest of the year.  At the time of writing this blog, my 19th month into my debt repayment endeavor, I am at a positive net worth.

‘Til next time…

! Guntitan