Now that I’m in my 30s, it seems like I’m constantly surrounded by people who are moving up- better jobs, first-time homes, babies. After all, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? The notion is that with age comes success, and success is generally measured by meeting the milestones we’ve all agreed upon. I’ve discussed on here my fears around not being where I’m supposed to be in life and being afraid to become a mom. However, Denny and I do know that we want all that responsible adult stuff someday, and we can’t wait forever- which is why we’re scaling back.
Just talking about budgets makes me want to let out a long “ugggghhhh.” I mean, who wants to count every dollar they spend? Apparently, financially-sound people do. Denny and I have never been swimming in money, and we’ve never just walked around buying whatever we please. However, anyone who’s alive knows that the little things add up, and we often found ourselves strapped for cash by the end of the month. It wasn’t surprising when we were both right out of grad school and getting our careers started, but the pattern continued and got to be exhausting. This past year has brought some really great opportunities for both of us, and we knew we needed to get serious with planning for our future.
I’m a grade-A neurotic planner in most areas of my life, but the idea of financial planning was way scarier. I clearly have a love for things that cost money (hello Loft sales and fancy summer cocktails!), and living in a city like Chicago automatically means that things cost more. It also means that summers are short so that drive to make plans and hit up every patio in the city is strong. When it came down to it, we actually realized it would be easier to cut some big things from our life instead of every little thing.
The first step? We’re moving- but barely a mile away! However, the price difference just from switching zip codes is crazy. We signed a lease in Fulton Market (aka the “hot” neighborhood should you listen to some local press coverage) in January, and our apartment is my dream space complete with exposed brick, high ceilings, and tons of natural light. However, it’s more my dream single lady apartment as it does not have a true bedroom with floor-to-ceiling walls. When we originally signed, Denny thought he’d be working in Wisconsin most days of the week, but he soon realized he could do a lot of work remotely so we’d see each other more, (Great for us, not so great for our space.) At the same time, about four big, loud bars opened up right near us, and the street became a bit of a cluster. I’m all about the sights and sounds of the city, but constant honking up and down our street in addition to a bass-loving DJ beneath our feet became a bit much. So we’re heading to West Town! We’ll have a ton more space, and it also took a huge chunk off our monthly rent price.
We’ve made some other less drastic changes as well like scaling down to one car (having two in the city is dumb), eliminating those monthly subscriptions that we barely ever used, and, as boring as it sounds, actually tracking every dollar we spend. We’re not great at it yet, but even being more aware of where our money goes has been helpful. Making a budget has been both easier and harder than I thought. It’s a pretty straightforward concept- lay out all your expenses and then assign a dollar amount to each area of your life. At the same time, it’s hard to break old habits and realize that innocent Target or Left Coast run really does have a consequence.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be the poster child for financial responsibility, but it’s been good for Denny and I to be a little more open and honest with ourselves. Neither of our families discussed money very much growing up (hellooo Irish Catholics) so I always feel really anxious when the topic is brought up. I’m sure some of that is guilt, too, since I’m a spender by nature. I know I’m not the person who will ever stop shopping or resist the urge to immediately run out and try the new, pretty coffee drink all over Instagram, but I hope I can be the person who finds balance.
I’d love to hear any of your money-saving tips or what works for you! Do you find it easier to cut big or small purchases? Have you made any drastic changes that were worth it in the long run? Are you still secretly hoping to win the lottery kind of like I am? (A girl can dream.)