Light At The End Of The Budgeting Tunnel
When I had no income in college I lived off of financial aid which was $1,200/mo. So in college I spent … $1,200/mo. Spending any more wasn’t even an option.
When I made $46,000 as a resident I spent about …. $40,000 a year which was my net after taxes. Compared to college I was living in a nicer place, I was spending more on food, I was buying nicer clothes and taking more vacations.
When I started moonlighting I increased my income to $120,000 a year. I bought a condo, spent more on gadgets, bought even nicer clothes and took more expensive vacations. And I spent somewhere around $85,000 that year.
I won’t bore you with the rest but my gross salary then went to $185,000 and later $235,000 and I peaked at $420,000 for one year. Now that I have been out of residency about 6 years I have an income of around $300,000.
Higher Income Usually = Higher Expenses
How does one achieve financial independence? By going against the grain. I didn’t have a shitty life in college just because I only had $1,200/mo to live off of. I have finally realized that I can choose how much to spend a month and don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards.
I no longer spend based on my income, I budget. I penny-pinch, actually. I live a frugal lifestyle. To friends and family it seems like such a terrible way to live. And I can see that. I live in a tiny studio, I don’t own a car, I bike to most of my destinations and I rarely eat out and don’t take any expensive vacations.
By budgeting I have been able to buy a condo in cash, pay off all my student loan debt, and save about $300,000 without working crazy hours and without any handouts.
I don’t have to live this lifestyle forever. It’s during the accumulation phase when a frugal lifestyle is really important. Once a good stash is built up you get the power of money momentum, interest accrues, your investments hopefully gain value and you become a more efficient investor.
If You Aren’t Frugal By Nature
I don’t particularly dislike this lifestyle, it happens to work well for me. I like living in a small place within walking distance to all the things I enjoy. Admittedly, it would be nice to spend more money eating out and maybe visit more coffee shops. Buying more clothes or fancier gadgets is no longer enticing.
In the near future look forward to a time when I no longer have to keep track of what I spend. Even though YNAB is a brilliant budgeting software it still requires some mind energy and time to set up and run.
You Have To Have A Plan
This cannot be said enough. Without a plan it’s easy to burn out in life. It’s important to prioritize and work towards goals. One person’s passion might be traveling so life is all about working, saving enough and then going off somewhere on an adventure. Another person’s goal is financial independence which is achieved by lowering expenses, maximizing investments and creating passive income streams.
What’s your goal/passion in life and what are you doing to achieve it?
What budgeting method do you use?