5 ways I plan to start budgeting like an actual adult

Ah. money.
No matter how much you protest that something isn’t about the money or you don’t care about money, deep down, you do care. don’t lie. 
Without money, you can’t eat or really, leave the house. Speaking of your house…you need money for that too.

People usually judge you based on how much money you look like you have (not actually have, in most cases) or whether your job is a high-money-making career.  Whether we want it to or not, usually as adults our lives begin to revolve around money.

I don’t want to live a life where I’m always behind, where I’m always catching up, where I’m always digging pennies out of the bottom of my purse.

I don’t care about making buckets of money (that’s a lie. I would love to make buckets of money. I just don’t obsess over that fantasy…), but I want to feel less like a struggling kid and more like a functioning, even if barely functioning, adult.

So here are five concepts I’ve come up with and plan to try to apply in order to start budgeting, and saving, and dishing out the dollars like an actual, semi-functional adult:


When you are 16 and you get your first job, the bills are (usually) fairly light and you can spend a ruthless amount on having fun.  As you get older…the bills intensify, the fun usually gets limited and the joy of having a full wallet is usually because “Yay! I can kinda afford gas now!” rather than “Yay! I can have a shopping spree!”

But, when I first started working and first started learning how to budget, my mom instilled in me that you have to set some aside for fun.  It doesn’t have to be a lot. It doesn’t have to be a big event. Even if it’s just a set amount that you put aside for a coffee before or after work, or enough to buy a new pair of jeans, “you money” is necessary to prevent overspending in other areas. None of us are perfect and sometimes, we feel (at the moment) that we would rather have that $5 coffee instead of $5 to put into our gas tanks.  Dipping into other funds is bad. don’t do that. set aside You Money.

But for me, I’m going to have to learn how to prioritize my “Me Money”.
I’m going to have to budget within the budget.
Instead of saying, “I have $40 for Me Money,” I need to look at what I want for that pay cycle and budget that.

“I want new pens, that’s $10 for Me Money,” “I want to have enough to get coffee a few days after work, that’s $15 for Me Money,” and I need to stick to it.  I need to pre-plan how I want to spend my Me Money.

Because usually, I set aside X Amount, and end up overspending because I don’t 1) take it out in cash so I can physically see how much I have and 2) I don’t prioritize it and therefore, I spend a little bit everywhere and end up spending a little bit too much everywhere.


For all you super successful adulting folks out there, I know this is pretty ‘no duh Ash’, but, it’s not really something I’ve been doing and I think it would help a lot if I did.

For example, more than half of my bills come in on the last half of the month.  This means my first paycheck of the month feels roomier than my last.  I live like a Queen during the first half…and like a literal debtor during the second.  If I balanced out and paid certain bills early with the first half paycheck (pay early. what a thought), it would mean I couldn’t live like such a Queen, but I don’t mind reducing myself to maybe, like, a minor duchess in order to not live like a beggar during the last half.


I pretty much get gas at the same gas station.  It’s the cheapest option around, it’s on my way to work, it’s clean, well lit, and it’s my trusted fuel-place.  That particular company also offers memberships.  You go online, fill out a form, and you can get a certain amount back from each dollar you spend.  It’s literally right there in front of me, and I’ve never taken it.   It’s completely free, it doesn’t require me to use credit (Store credit cards a no-go for me. I had a Target store card. Not a good choice. I’m looking forward to cutting that card up once I pay it off), it’s a way to save and I have never taken it.

So that’s my third plan, be on the lookout for ways to save on the stuff I already buy.   Online, I like to use Honey, which searches the internet and finds me coupon codes for anything I shop for online.  I love it. (and if you decide to sign up, maybe use this link: joinhoney.com/ref/72tixk8 and help a girl out by being referred by me…). 


I don’t necessarily mean fast food meals, but sometimes it means fast food meals.

But usually, it’s on the go stuff like stopping for an unplanned coffee on the way to work, or grabbing a quick snack from a gas station to tide me over on the ride home.  Usually, it’s stuff that if I just thought about and planned for, I could save money by not buying.  For example, a bag of apples is cheap. I know I usually need/want to eat something while driving home. It costs far less (to my health and wallet) to pack an apple into my lunch bag to save for the ride home.  If I know I will want a coffee while driving to work, I can brew a cup at home and bring it with me in my travel mug.  I can plan for that stuff. It just means being a little more forward-thinking and planning things that I usually just don’t think about.

Which brings me to my final idea:


Now, yes, bullet journaling can cost more than it can save. But, luckily, I already have enough pens and more than enough washi tape to get me started and keep me going for a long while.

But I think my biggest spending-not-saving problem isn’t that I’m a shopaholic, it isn’t that I don’t know how to budget, it’s that I just don’t think and my thoughts are like a ball in a tennis match…here and then there and then way over there.

My hope is that if I can succeed with a bullet journal, I can tone down some of the rapid thoughts and streamline my paychecks.  This means having trackers for when I buy gas and how much I spend on each gallon; diet trackers that show me (and guilt trip me) into buying less junk and planning my meals; savings goals trackers; trackers that show when I buy coffee/tea vs. when I make my own coffee/tea, and other concepts like that.  If I can visually see how much I spend, I can more easily cut out the negative spending.

Outside of money saving ventures, it can also help me focus my work day, plan on my nonwork day (so my weekends aren’t an aimless wander), and other concepts.

I’m looking forward to it and a little nervous it won’t work as well as I want it too.

But, it’s all an adventure and at this point, I’m willing to try anything to chill out my spending habits and hyperactivate the saving habits.

After all, I’m young. bills will only increase. If I can’t find a financial focus now when I’m young, it will only be harder when I’m older.


Do you have any tips or tricks that help you save money? Leave a comment and tell me about them!


2 thoughts on “5 ways I plan to start budgeting like an actual adult”

  1. Ah yes, such good tips! I’m still living at home, so my parents pay for most of my expenses (and I don’t make anywhere near enough to live off of anyways lolllll)m but I still need to save money, because I spend too much money! Definitely recommend a bullet journal: I’ve been using one, and it’s so so sO useful for tracking things!


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