Archive for July, 2008

My FBP Account, and how I learned to have splurging as a goal

One of the biggest problems I had with saving was that I wanted lots of things.  I tried telling myself that “things” don’t matter when I have bigger future goals.  But, the problem with that was that to an early-20-something-year-old closet tech geek and wannabe artist is that the future just doesn’t seem quite real when compared to a new wacom tablet or gadgets for my Holga camera or a really cool usb microscope.

However, my relatively low income, my lofty savings goals, and an aversion to carrying a balance on my credit card instead left me with no way to feasibly buy anything just for fun and left me with the uneasy feeling like I was somehow missing out on my youth to focus on a very hazy future.  “What if I die tomorrow? or in 5 years and I really don’t need any of my retirement money!” is a popular refrain in my mind.

And whenever I did break down and splurge on something, the next month I would have to cut back even more savagely on my normal day-to-day spending just to make sure I paid off my credit card balance at the end of the month leaving me feeling even more deprived and upset.

I tried to focus on only free activities and told myself I didn’t really NEED that <insert really cool gadget> and it would just be cluttering up my limited space at home.  I tried not to watch TV or read magazines so I wouldn’t see advertisements.  But I would catch myself looking longingly at my friend’s spiffy mp3 player that they could strap onto their arm as we went to exercise together while I fiddled with my ancient CD player that skipped every time someone breathed too hard on it.  And then I contemplated how many functioning security video cameras they actually had at Circuit City and whether I could get away with filching something.

Obviously, this system was definitely not working.  I needed to be able to save for my goals but also I needed to have some fun once in a while and get to buy myself something just for the sake of its coolness.

So, I opened an ING sub-account three months ago and named it “my FBP account”.  FBP stands for Fun Big Purchase.  Every month I stick a little money in it.  Whenever I save up $300 or so, I plan to withdraw the money and splurge on something Fun and Big (meaning expensive).  While I’m waiting for the balance to reach that number, I like to plan out exactly what I want to purchase and this makes me excited since I know that eventually I will get it and I’ll actually have the money to buy it without cutting back on anything.

In fact, I have 5 different sets of things I want to purchase with that money and I really have a great time trying to prioritize them or trying to find the best prices for them.  And a great benefit of this plan is that since it takes me quite a few months to save up that amount in that account, it lets me really think about exactly what I want as opposed to short-term gadget lust so whatever I’ll end up getting is something that I’ll really treasure and want.

And…just maybe I’ll get that fancy new mp3 player eventually.  But for now, I just listen to the radio.

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