Disconnected: What An Overheard Conversation Taught Me About Finances

I recently overheard someone talking on the phone about a bill being late. She claimed that she had contacted the company and they told her that they could not give any more extensions on the bill and the (electricity?) service was going to be cut off in four days if the bill was not paid. At first I felt sorry for the person but then I realized a few things:
* She had just bought pizza that day for lunch
* She had just gotten a manicure AND a pedicure
* She had just gotten her hair done that week

I immediately lost the sorry feeling as this is obviously someone who does not prioritize. I have heard this person talking about clothes and expensive purses that she has bought…yet here she was worried about finding money to pay a bill. This told me that she either did not have a budget or if she did have one she just was not paying attention to it.

I thought about my own finances and how I use a zero based budget. Every dollar (actually every cent) that I make has a job before the money even hits my account, whether that is to:

  • pay regular bills
  • reduce debt
  • increase savings
  • other

Now the first three categories speak for themselves because I obviously take care of my rent, electricity and so on. I include things like groceries in regular bills because I have set amounts that go towards each category as well. I also have a budget amount that goes towards paying debt and it is slightly more than the minimum on each credit card and loan. I have a second snowflake amount that goes towards debt but that is talk for another day.


image from femtalks.com

I classify my savings as a ‘bill’ that is pushed from my ING Electric Checking to a savings account in ING. Most people decide to view their savings as what they have when all the bills are paid..but I chose to designate my savings as a bill that has to be paid so this way there is really nothing left over at the end.

In the other category I have fun money which is a set amount that goes towards anything I want. I have a sub account in ING that is for fun money and if I want something not already in the monthly budget then I see if I can afford it. If for example I see a new outfit that I want (rarely happens) but have already spent my clothing budget for the month then I can take it out of fun money. Or if I go out for the weekend I can take food purchases out of fun money instead of my grocery budget. (This is NOT my emergency fund, though which is a bill.)

I make sure to overestimate bills every month so that I can budget for them. Any money left over (say I spend $65 on gas instead of the budgeted $70) simply rolls over to the overage fund and becomes a snowflake in a few weeks.

So my advice to ‘she of the freshly done hair and nails who buys lunch every day’, next time make your LIVING expenses be the priority in your life….after all you can’t see your new manicure in the dark!

Author: Lulu

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  1. I didn’t know my blank-in-law had a job at your office 🙂

    The particular person I am talking about would never in a million years see this but I thought I would protect their identity a tiny bit hah they are always complaining about money and they do the same thing, hair, nails, fast food, dinner out, etc, every singe week.

    I just stopped giving advice and let them live their life, it’s better for our relationship that way haha

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    • That was funny. I am just amazed at what some people consider to be priorities in life.

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  2. Thanks for the tips!
    I found your page via bing.com 🙂

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  3. I usually shop online. My way to save a money is a BigCrumbs. As a member you could get up to 36% cash back – depends on which online store you used. Mostly I use a eBay. It is really cheap and I get 27-36% money back. I also shop on Avon, Nine West, Reeebok. It doesn’t cost me anything and I have possibility to buy clothes really cheap. My husband also bought through this website some electric equipment.

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  4. Wow… I don’t know how I could justify all those little expenses if my electricity if about to be cut off. She might of had her hair done… but don’t be able to style it without the electric!!

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  5. There are tons of things you can do to save money on a daily basis.
    And internet offers great opportunities for good deals and ways to make a little money.
    For instance, I often participate in surveys or enter contests. It only takes me a few minutes a day and once in a while I win a little something. Ok, sometimes I spend more than just a few minutes, but hey I’m hooked ! 🙂
    Lately I won a free $250 Gas Card through a quick poll on a website about cars stuffs (I’ve put the link in my name for those interested). I felt like I won the lottery ! 🙂
    So there are tons a tips you can use to save money, to make money and indeed, it is often a way you manage your expenses !
    Personnaly, time is used either to spend money or to make money (little or big, but at the end small amounts add up!).
    Thanks for this website though.

    Cheers !

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  6. I don’t think that you should listen to other people’s conversations. Many people have problems with saving money… me too:/ and I quarrels about it with my girlfriend all the time.

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    • I was not eavesdropping on someone who was having a hushed personal conversation. This person was in a public space and talking very LOUDLY on a cellphone. A few other people heard it as well.

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  7. Yeah we are always tempted to rush to judgment. I bet companies deal with these billing issues on a regular basis and have come to make no exceptions.

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  8. I truly think many people just don’t take bill paying that serious until they are out on the street.

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  9. I appreciate your idea to treat your savings as a bill. I have been doing it for years now, and I have found it to be a very enjoyable experience when I look back on the year and realize how much I have saved, compared to how much I would have only saved if I had left my savings to what was left over. You seem like quite the new expert in budgeting, but another simple idea I have found helpful and may be beneficial for you is learning to use coupons. There are coupons out there for everything, and I have found I have saved hundreds by using even just a few here and there over the month.

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