Just a walkthrough of what's going on:
So, in the span of one year, I managed to pay off a 7.5k Student loan with a 6.55% interest rate. I feel happy, in a sense that knocks my payments down from 276.58 a month, to 177.82. There was a feeling of glee when I see the "No Due Date" Next to my loan details. I saved a little in interest paying in, and the loan company doesn't penalize people who pay off early.
But... Looking at my bank account and seeing that It's low, I'm not too happy. Looking back, I've come to terms that I'm not the best with money. Frivolous spending. Little transactions here and there that add up. Example: Going out to eat instead of prepping lunch, buying pre-made food at the Grocery store I work at, and buying things on the internet. Overall, I'm just terrible with budgeting and lack self control.
Steps I've taken:
1. I've stopped eating fast food as frequent because it not only adds up, it affects my performance at work along with how I feel the rest of the day (Sluggish, Irritated, Bloated.) I need to start doing some meal prep and bring books with me again. Fast, healthy, easy prep food ideas are ideal that don't tax the wallet too much.
2. Always asking myself, "Do I really need this?" Or "Just wait a week, If I don't think of it, then there really is no need it." Or "I have plenty of book that I've bought and haven't read through. I should read those first before making another purchase."
This has been going on for a few months, and I've had success. I've lost about 10 pounds not eating out, and have a little more money in my account. (Aside from buying gifts this year.)
TL;DR Paid off loans, saw my shitty spending, took steps and minimized the damage.
This year though... I want to go out of the country. Japan for a week. I think If I stick with it; I'll be able to not only pay off my second highest interest loan, but still visit Japan. I've actually started to study the language and planning to set aside time each day to commit to it. It's a pretty difficult language, but I think it will be fun and rewarding to connect with people there. Also: I've actually thought about teaching English there for a couple years.
I'll add that I've been going off tangents throughout the post, so here's what I'm getting at.
1. Does anyone have any experience visiting Japan or the process of going outside the country?
2. Any budgeting advice?
Just that they attacked us and we nuked them,twice.
I'm aware of that. If my grandfather hadn't shipped out a few days before, he would have been apart of what happened on "A date which will live in infamy."
Fortunately, I knew I had seen that book somewhere and huzzah! Thank you for the advice, I've read through it and I'm currently taking baby step one.
Have a tanoshii time!
For budgeting advice, we've had a lot of success with not only dining out less ... but making sure, when we do, our dining out is cheaper. It was almost accidental. When we swore off dining out for a while, my wife has spent a lot of time figuring out how to cook our favorite restaurant dishes. She got good enough at it that we actually prefer hers to restaurants.
The strange side effect was, when we do go out to eat, we're not in the mood for the more expensive restaurant dishes she cooks all the time -- like steaks, chops, salmon, hot wings, and a couple of specific chicken dishes. Instead, we're in the mood for cheeseburgers or sub sandwiches or something ... which she hardly ever cooks anymore. So, we eat the expensive stuff cheaper at home, and the cheaper stuff when we go out. Saves a ton of money, without deprivation.
My recommendation -- pick the few specific dishes that make you crave restaurant food, and learn to make them at home. They're chefs, not magicians. If you deprive yourself, you'll cheat on the budget when you just have to have a porterhouse. If you learn to make a better porterhouse at home, you'll have no need to cheat the budget.
That's actually something I've been doing: Making my own version.
Regarding budgeting, don't forget the most important part: actively saving. What I mean by that is don't just spend less but actually start putting money aside for specific purposes. As the common platitude goes: Pay yourself first.
PS: One of those purposes could be your trip to Japan.
Well, since it's near the end I can look at my Gross Income and estimate the amount i can throw at my college debt, cut back on leisure expenses, and look towards making the trip. (also setting up an emergency fund that way if something breaks down or unexpected happens, I have the cash to fork over.)
Is your savings account on automatic deposit?
Unfortunately, I have never really opened a savings account... BUT! After reading The Total Money Makeover, by the second week of January, I'll have an emergency fund set up and I'm going to set up my works auto-deposit to put in a percentage or set amount each pay-day. What would be a good amount? 10 a week? that's 520 a year... maybe 20-30 a week?