Seventy Dollar Selfies: Or How I Learned to Start Saving Money

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked. Tell you what? That I have less than a $100 left to my name for the rest of our weekend in the city? I didn’t respond. I didn’t have an answer. I must have missed the episode in life where our friends say out loud that they’re penny pinching it between paychecks. I mean, it’s totally acceptable in college; it’s the running joke and deep seated truth of every student. Of course I only showed up to those club meetings for the free pizza! But after college, it’s not funny.

The chilled New York City wind was cutting through our scarves and mittens as we sat on the top level of the tour bus that February afternoon. On my iPhone, we snapped some selfies with the Empire State Building behind us, he wanted to see the pictures. I handed him my phone. Oh no! I don’t want him to see that. By the time I snatched my phone back, it was too late. I left the Bank of America app open on my phone and he saw it…my $70 account balance. Em-ba-rassed!

Here I was with my big fat bachelor’s degree, my first salaried income with all the perks of health insurance, paid time off and blah blah blah, yet— I had $70 left in my account and 12 days before my next paycheck.

The whole “being an adult” thing is over-rated. Where was the college class that prepared me for life? The class that taught me how to store the bacon after I brought it home? Because, at this point I was having bacon for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snack time in between. I was eating everything I brought home, and I wasn’t alone. Seventy-five percent of America is on this “eat all your bacon” diet too. That means three out of every four of our working loved ones are barely making it.

Why aren’t we more intentional in getting healthy with this part of our lives? So, since there was no life class, what did I do? I lived.

It took three more months of living paycheck to paycheck before I got desperate for help. In one of those gazillion marketing emails I get everyday, I saw mention of a personal finance workshop in one of them. So I went, met a coach, and my Bank of America app has never been the same.

Here are a few things I discovered and learned along the way:

My First Discovery:

I was making Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery richer, while I became more broke. Who are they, you ask? The founders of Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW). That year alone, I had spent $4,000 on chicken wings. I wasn’t eating there every night, just Tuesdays and Thursdays for the 60 cent wings! And who just eats wings? I had to get the fries and a drink too…oh and pay my taxes, wait –not done yet… gotta tip that college student of a waiter too. Yep! And the survey on the receipt gave me $5.00 off my next purchase. You got it! I took those surveys and was back again!

So, how do I know I spent that much at Buffalo Wild Wings that year? I learned from my coach to start tracking (writing down every time I spend). When I did the math after tallying up my spending, I came up with $4,000 just for Mr. Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m not going to go down my bank statement and bore you with other companies I made richer that year, but you get the point.

Best Lesson Learned:

Save. Before you roll your eyes, give me a few minutes here. For the first time in my life, I had saved $1,000 in what people would call an ‘Emergency Account’. When my coach first mentioned this to me, I looked at her sideways. I don’t have an extra $1,000 to save, because if I did, I wouldn’t be living paycheck to pay check. Here’s what I did. I started to save first. Before I payed all my bills – with every bi-weekly check – I set aside $100. And in less than six months, voila! There was my $1,000. It took another six months to convince myself that a weekend trip to Miami was not an emergency!

When I started to get my personal finances in order, I didn’t talk about it, because I thought everyone else had it all together. After all no one talks about their money, other than: “Yeah, things are tight right now.” No one ever admits how tight things are and for how long it’s been tight. I get it. I’ve been there and some days, I’m back there. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m a better version then where I was.

Now What?

For those of us who are losing sleep, maybe even some tears because of those little powerful green bills and plastic cards, you’re not alone. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed by some of your decisions. Decide today to make better money choices. You didn’t have to go see Captain America: Civil War at midnight the Thursday it came out and get the large popcorn, large soda special. That’s an extra $25 that could have been put in your emergency account. I’m not pointing fingers here, because I was totally in the theater with you; Team Save Bucky! I’m just bringing light to how quickly money leaves us when we don’t give our spending habits a second thought.

Let’s stop pretending that we can keep up with the Jones’. With everyone posting their “perfect life” on social media, I know it’s hard to maintain your “content-ness”, but trust me, all that glitters ain’t gold. Yes! He posted a new picture of his “baby” – his BMW – but do you know that he’s working for $12/hr and after he makes the payments, he’s scratching his head about the insurance.

I’m here with you; let’s take it one $25 at a time and journey together to an “eat less bacon” life!

Yours Vulnerably.

 

About the Author:

Mac Josselin is a Social Entrepreneur, empowering individuals and families in the way of financial freedom and self-sufficiency through coaching and teaching financial literacy. She is a NFEC Certified Financial Education Instructor with the National Financial Educators Council. She received her Bachelor of Science from University of Florida (UF), where she studied Public Relations and Business Administration.

Her media presence includes a radio interview on 94.3FM (New Haven, CT), a front page article in The Stamford Advocate-Business, a feature in The Greenwich Times and Fairfield County Business Journal. She is also a featured blog-writer on an international online forum.

Josselin lives in CT with her family. She is passionate about her faith, sharing her love for healthy eating and taking on new fitness challenges. Her interests include traveling around the world, exercising, reading, horseback riding, spending time with loved ones and meeting new people.

 

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