Some days are just better than others — I think we all feel that way. Some days, I’m on top of my shit. Some days, I’m on top of the world.
Some days, I find a bill that was due a week ago buried under a pile of shit on my desk that shouldn’t have been on my desk in the first place. (Today was one of those days.)
I spend a great deal of my life talking about money, so it feels even more embarrassing when I totally mess up something simple in regard to my own personal finances. But the fact remains: you can be an Excel spreadsheet queen, keep multiple calendars and to-do lists, set reminders on your phone, and still, once in awhile, something important might slip through the cracks. And it is embarrassing. (And expensive.)
But some days are just better than others. Some weeks are better than others — and this wasn’t my best week. I’m reevaluating some of the decisions I made — both intentional and unintentional — that led to a few money mistakes over the weekend. These are the three money mistakes I didn’t have to make this weekend, and really shouldn’t have. There’s always room for improvement, even for the most financially conscious — and improve I shall. (Hopefully.)
1. I rediscovered my car tax bill — the one that was due weeks ago.
I genuinely thought I paid this, but apparently, I did not. I found it sitting on my desk under a pile of random stuff that had gotten tossed on top of it since it arrived a month ago, complete with a post-it stuck on top that said, “Motor Vehicle Tax, pay by August 1st!!!!!!!!!!” LOL. As I write this it is August sixth. I promptly got online and paid the bill (in full, instead of broken in to installments like they offer to those who pay on time, because from what I gathered, I wouldn’t be able to register my car if it wasn’t paid in full by the time my registration was due — which is also soon.)
Blah. I want to hate myself for this. But it happened, and the payment went through about ten minutes ago, so I’ve stopped sweating about it — but so help me god if I ever let something like that happen again.
2. I didn’t pay attention to my paycheck.
When I got paid from one of my jobs Friday afternoon, I was so amped to get the heck out and start my weekend that I didn’t even glance at the check and see that it was short a pretty good amount of money. Since my check wasn’t the amount that I had actually earned (and therefore built my budget for the week around), I ended up having to cut some corners due to the unexpected bit of money that I’d now have to wait a few days for.
Not a huge deal, but this is definitely something that could have been fixed in the moment if I had spent the last five minutes of my Friday focused enough to notice the error on the check and have it changed before I left. When it comes to money, simply paying attention to detail is one of the easiest and most important things you can do. Knowing how much money you’ve earned, where it is coming from, and when it is hitting your account can be the difference between you having sufficient funds, or accidentally racking up overdraft fees or making late payments on important bills.
3. I spent experientially.
Which is not often a mistake, until it actually is a mistake. I got caught up in a few nights out this weekend, and it reflected in the numbers when I looked through my checking account online this morning. Drew and I had to have a long talk about the fact that we really do need to cool it on any extra spending for a few weeks at least, even if that means spending a few weekends really feeling the FOMO.
It is hard to say no to yourself sometimes, especially at the end of a long week when you feel like you’ve truly earned a night out, and it is even harder to say no to, for example, my boyfriend, who is on vacation from work for the week and wants to live it up before he goes back. But each drink makes me feel a little more loose about swiping my card, even though responsible daytime me promised herself she would have a $0 low-key night in.
This morning, despite my 23-year-old itch to go out on the town and enjoy a bottomless Sunday brunch followed by some leisurely wandering around town and likely spending more money, we knew we needed to stay in and not spend a dime. I cooked a meal, did tons of laundry, scrubbed down the bathroom, and binge-watched HGTV on demand. It was actually quite fun — I’m finding it becoming increasingly important to remind myself often that a night or weekend isn’t wasted if I don’t spend it wasting money on booze. A cozy day in tidying up the apartment, getting ahead on work, and working on personal projects is a totally valid way to spend a day off — you don’t need to do something Instagram-worthy to have a fulfilling weekend.
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