Valdosta Daily Times

July 21, 2013

Brittany's Budget Diary: Spending some time on spending

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — I am a morning, talk radio junkie. In Valdosta I loved Scott James and in Savannah, I sadly had to find a replacement. I returned to an old favorite, Kidd Kraddick. For those of you who have Dish Nation, you may have heard of him, he is nationally syndicated.

I listened to Kidd for years while growing up in Savannah. However, after I took a seven-year hiatus while living in Valdosta, I returned to find out that Kidd had become a little more successful. His attitude changed and I may have officially become an un-listener on Friday.

I was just driving on the highway to work when all of a sudden; Kidd started ripping on one of his co-hosts for being frugal. He stated that there is a problem when you make a certain amount of money and still shop at the dollar store 40 times a week. “Do you even valet park?” He continued. As a die-hard budgeteer, this infuriated me!

I mean, this attitude is exactly how our country got into complete economic turmoil in the first place, people over-spending and making poor financial decisions. So, Kidd’s ignorance got me thinking, how many other people think like this as well? When you become financially stable, do you just throw fiscal responsibility to the wind?

Personally, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My dad was in the Army and was a noncommissioned officer, which means he worked super hard for little pay. Until I was in first grade, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. When she did finally get a job, it was as a parapro at my school. Growing up, we had very little money but always had what we needed because my mom was so frugal.

Now, my dad works for the state and has a master’s degree, my mom works for a CPA, and my brother works as the lead Android programmer for Tumblr. None of them are hurting for money now, but they all still live their lives as if it was back in the day and Koolaid was a luxury. The mentality is something my mom instilled in us, and it’s something that I can hopefully instill in you now.

Living frugally isn’t difficult; it’s all about making common-sense decisions. For example, because you have enough money to eat out every day, should you? The answer is no. Not only is eating out everyday horrible for your body (no, a salad with fried chicken isn’t healthy), but it’s rough on your wallet. According to MSN Money, in 2010, the average American spent $2,505 a year eating out. While these numbers remain down from say 2008 ($2,700) because people are tightening their belts due to the economy, that’s still a lot of money. That’s money you could put toward credit card debt, a vacation, and more.

How many of you go get pedicures every week? If you’re a Southern girl, I’m sure you do. However, that’s at least $30 a week you’re dropping. That’s $100 a month. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on something more permanent, I don’t know, like clothes? Hello!

You get the point, I’m basically telling you to weigh your options, which according to my mom, is the key to remaining on a budget. Just ask yourself: Would I rather get sushi, or use this money to travel to the beach next weekend? Would I rather buy this purse, or go see a movie with my friends? Would I rather valet park, or park myself and walk because seriously, it’s not that much further?

Frugal living isn’t just about small financial decisions (although it’s a big part because those are the mistakes that tend to sneak up on you), you also have to be mindful of big purchases. For example, how important is it for you to have a $40,000 car? Do you have to have the latest Apple product?

For example, I can afford my new Jeep, but my husband and I are still looking into trading it in on a cheaper car so we can put that money towards paying down our debt.

It’s a move that a lot of couples are making now days. We are trying to get a smaller car that gives us a lower monthly payment and better gas mileage. Living in a bigger city now, we find ourselves driving a lot more.

So you see, it’s not all about what you can afford to spend, it’s about what is smart to spend. After all, the past five years have shown that at any time you could lose your job, your house, and more. So, don’t get cocky, and always be prepared.

Don’t forget to like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure and follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany.