4 Budgeting Rules I Follow To Help Myself Earn More Money

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I mentioned briefly in an embarrassing post or two on TFD that a few years back, my best friend Maggie and I decided we were going to open an Etsy shop once, despite having no artistic talent, no work ethic, no real idea, and no money. It was, overall, a pretty hilarious experiment, and we ended up actually just throwing money we didn’t have at a barely-half-baked idea, and giving up on it within weeks after we’d drained our already pathetic checking accounts for it thinking it was an “investment.” (LOL. We still hate ourselves, but that’s what happens when you spend the entire summer drinking rum straight from the bottle and trying to figure out how to get rich quick. Being 19 is a roller coaster, my friends.)

Since then, when it comes to “spending money to make money,” I try to think less in terms of “investing shit I don’t have on dumb ideas that I think might make me a millionaire” and more in terms of “having the right tools to successfully and easily accomplish what I’m already working on and therefore know I am capable of doing.” There are things that I spend money on solely because I know it will improve a work-related part of my life and make it easier for me to ~make that chedda~. Here are a few of my personal tips.

1. Don’t skimp on organizational/workspace items.

For both school and work, I’ve attempted to be the kind of person who writes important notes down on my cell phone, and completes tasks from my couch or kitchen table or bed. I’ve learned that, for me, an extremely important part of getting work done is doing it in the right environment with the right tools available to me. I spent a good amount of money over the past year or so organizing my desk and setting it up to be fully-stocked with everything I need to keep my workspace organized so all tools and materials I’ll ever need are easily accessible.

I also used to carry around school papers and my laptop in a big purse like a dumbass and would always forget important things. Taking the time to put everything I use to work with into color-coded binders, accordion file folders, and tucking it into a nice work-specific backpack when I’m on-the-go has made a huge difference in how I manage my time and accomplish what I need to accomplish. Spending a lot of money on that kind of stuff feels like a worthwhile investment, because it makes all of my work so much easier to manage.

2. Don’t beat yourself up for spending on relaxation time when you know you can afford to.

We’re so easy to preach that buying a delicious cup of designer coffee or hitting up happy hour once or twice a week is a terrible habit, but to be honest, if you’re working hard-as-fuck every damn day and that $4 latte makes it all feel a little bit easier, I don’t think it is a terrible sin. It is more about spending that money within your means than anything. If you can afford to go have a drink after a particularly hard day at work, and looking forward to that post-workday cocktail all day (or week) long, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about the $10 you’re paying to make it all feel just a tiny bit easier to manage.

3. Invest in education.

And not just college or grad-school, because obviously those things are expensive and not always totally-accessible to everyone. But keeping yourself educated and up-to-date about topics you deal with on a daily basis for work or things you think you’d be interested in doing for work is really like investing in yourself. This can mean getting a few good books to read, or subscribing to a journal or newspaper that you think could help you out. For me, when I was in yoga training, I invested in a few good (but sort of pricey) anatomy books, and some online workshops that helped me dig deeper into the topics I studied in my classes.

felt like a more well-rounded teacher once I finished the program, and more capable of doing what I wanted to do when I graduated from it. The fact that something is being used for educational purposes shouldn’t be an excuse to spend freely and recklessly, and I still try to keep money in mind while buying things like this — but I don’t usually feel much guilt about spending little bits of my money on useful, educational things, because I know I will inevitably profit off of the knowledge I gained at some point.

4. Spend some money on your ~work lewk~ if you want to, and can afford to.

As a person who truly loves and adores all beautiful pieces of clothing, I can absolutely attest to the fact that dressing a certain way can make you feel more (or less) powerful and confident. Having a curated and dedicated work (or school, if you’re a student still!) wardrobe made entirely of pieces you love and feel comfortable in makes mornings easier and less stressful, and makes you feel good all day long.

I know I’m way more confident in my work (and my life in general) when I’m wearing something that I feel confident and comfortable in, and is appropriate for the situation I’m in. This could mean getting that one pair of Banana Republic work pants that fits you better than all of the others in four different colors. It could mean hoarding a collection of comfy oversized tee shirts that you like to wear while working from home. Whatever it means, it’ll help you feel like a total badass all day. (It works for me, at least.)

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  • Violaine

    I want to read that article about the Etsy shop.

    • ME

      Me too! 🙂

  • Jack

    #2 YES!
    I work full time and have a weekend side hustle, battle depression and chronic migraines, keep my house super clean and try to maintain good relationships with friends. So yeah, some days I buy a coffee and Chipotle AND a Lush bath bomb. By personal finance standards that basically makes me the devil, but this is my LIFE, and some days are just harder to manage than others. Beating ourselves up about a few treats doesn’t make things any easier.

  • kash

    Also totally into #1 and #2! It’s really important to keep “treats” small and manageable (I try for a $5 rule, maximum once a day and ideally 3x/week)–but yeah, I’m a grad student who is writing a dissertation, teaching multiple classes, and trying to get exercise/keep my house clean/keep my relationships healthy/manage my money as efficiently as possible.

    I think it’s important to minimize treat costs as much as possible–but today, for example, I’ve been in the library working for five hours and I’ll be here for another four or so. I brought my lunch, a reusable water bottle, my computer, the books I needed to work on, I walked the 45 here, etc, etc, etc… so yeah. Totally bought myself a 1PM pick-me-up coffee even though I could have just drank my water, but it perked me right up.

  • To me, personal finance is like dieting: Everything in moderation. Treating yourself once in a while is healthy and won’t ruin your finances. Treating yourself to a fresh, hot latte or nice dinner once a month is a great way to reward yourself without going over board.

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