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.
Whatever you are making, convince yourself you are making half of that and budget accordingly. If you make 70K, budget for $35K. After insurance, taxes, and many other fees, takehome is pretty much half anyway. At least put 10% a week in savings. Your ultimate goal is to have a year's salary in the bank at all times.
Just a thought, you might shop around for better rates. I know that savings accounts arent really an "investment", but I'm mindful of pennies.... they add up. Also, I found it really helpful to open a savings account at a bank OTHER than the one I conduct my checking/daily business through. This works as a kind of "out of sight, out of mind" so you don't really even consciously register that money as income. As for the amount I put in there, I just made sure that what my bills were plus a margin for food and gas, were JUST under what I ended up with in my day to day account. If I force myself to have to constrain my spending to necessities, I wouldn't be able to overspend. It's tough sometimes, but it's doable.
Here's a simple pair of alternate "savings plans."
1. Go modest. If you start with $25.00/week, that's $1300.00 put away over a year. At least you've achieved Mr. Ramsy's first level of emergency fund savings.
2. When you pay off a loan, put the payment amount into savings. The theory behind this one is that you're already removing the money from your disposable income, so it shouldn't involve any additional "sacrifice."
that's what It says in the book. Get to 1k (1.3k probably in a newer addition) as fast as you can, then pay down your debts as fast as possible. Then, afterwards, pay in until you reach 5k, and start saving as fast as possible.