The Money Diaries: The spoiled 20-something used to living beyond his means

Ramit Sethi

Here’s another post in the Money Diaries series, which is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. We’ve collected stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymized them, and posted them here.



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Note from the author: I graduated from college about a year ago and was lucky enough to land the job of my dreams. I moved into my parent’s house so I could get out of credit card debt and start saving for a house of my own.

I have a penchant for the good life, but after a year of living it up, I found myself with $12,000 in credit card debt! In addition to that, I just got myself into some legal trouble and need to come up with about $6,000 for my lawyer.

I make $1200 every two weeks after taxes and 401(k) contributions. The only real bills I have are my phone and student loan payments ($150) and paying down debt ($600), after which I end up with about $450 per paycheck.

For the past year, I’ve been going out about 5 nights a week , and I don’t know if I’ve ever not gone over that $450 per paycheck. I realize I need a serious lifestyle change. I may die of boredom, but at least I’ll be closer to getting out of debt. Let’s see if I can do it.

DAY 1:
2:20pm: I heard that I’d be featured in The Money Diaries while at work. I’m excited but nervous because it’s Friday night. I start brainstorming drastic ways to pay off my debt and actually considered cashing out my 401(k). I started it 10 months ago and have about $7,000 already in it. I know cashing out is probably the stupidest thing I could ever do. I need to suck it up and change how I spend my money.
6:30pm: I’m excited to get off of work and meet a group of friends at one of my favorite restaurants downtown. After all, it is Friday and I worked a hellish week.
7:14pm: Fuck. I can’t afford that restaurant. I shouldn’t eat out at all. I have an obscene amount of food at home. I call my friends and tell them to go without me. That may be dick (to arrange it and then ditch), but I know from experience that they’ll have fun anyway and it’s not like they are going to pay my bills for me! I call other friends and decide to meet up at their house. I’ll bring some leftover Belvedere from last weekend so I don’t have to buy tonight!

DAY 2:
1:00pm: I’m hung over and hungry. My friends and I decide to go somewhere to eat. I insist on cheap. This brings us to Taco Bell. I spend $3.50 and don’t even eat everything I order. I love this place!
2:00pm: I forgot to mention- I smoke. I spend $7 on a pack of cigarettes and lottery tickets. Both are my guilty pleasure.
8:00pm: I’m invited to go out to eat but I decline and decide to try to choke down some of my step dad’s cooking… If I die, at least I’ll know it was in effort to make a good financial decision.
9:00pm: I decide to hang out at a friend’s house instead of going to the bar with other friends. This whole financial responsibility thing is getting old… But at least I’m sticking to it. On my way, I see some really cheap gas and decide to fill up even though I don’t need it, $16.

DAY 3:
3:00pm: It’s Sunday = football. Instead of going to the bars with friends, I decide to go to work and get some stuff done. I stop at Starbucks- $3.50. I’m getting antsy – I need to go out sometime soon! At least tomorrow starts off a busy workweek.

DAY 4:
8:30am: I need cigarettes. I’m too late to work to care about the fact I’m spending money. Without these, my day would not be too great. I spend $4.

DAY 5:
12:30pm: I need cigarettes again. This time, the gas station has one of those buy 2, get 1 free offers. Even though I still pay sin tax for the 3rd pack, it’s still cheaper than buying 3 individual packs. I also throw in a Powerball and state lotto ticket. I spend $13. I probably won’t need to buy cigarettes for another 4 days, thank God. Even though I’m doing surprising well at not spending money, I was reminded today that I have a trip to Chicago this weekend and a family wedding in LA to attend the weekend after. How can I stick to a minimal budget when I’m jet setting across the country every weekend?
2:35pm: I figured it out! Since my whole family is going to the wedding, I’m going to save myself $50 by not buying a present in my name and piggybacking on my mom’s gift. I don’t know how I feel about this because now that I have a “big kid job,” I feel responsible for my own gift. I’ll think about it for a minute.
7:50pm: $13 on gas. I’m not normally a serial tank filler but gas has been at it’s cheapest, and from what I’ve read, prices are supposed to drastically rise. I thought I’d take advantage one last time.

DAY 6:
12:00pm: Ok, I broke down today. I couldn’t resist going to lunch with coworkers. Pizza buffet costs $9. I don’t feel so horrible because I consider this my first poor financial decision of the week.

DAY 7:
8:00pm: Haven’t spent any money… Yet. But I did cancel my Chicago trip so I could save money. It doesn’t seem like the end of the world, either. I get paid tomorrow and I know I would have spent at least $300 over the weekend.
8:30pm: I’m still at work and need to eat. I won’t feel so guilty buying dinner considering I just canceled my trip.
1:00am: I’m stupid. I decided to go out to eat and drink with buddies. I spent $40. I’m shocked at how one bad financial decision can ruin a week of serious efforts. I regret this because I realize that it is moments like this that get me in financial trouble.

In sum:
I only spent $114 this week! That’s amazing. I’m also kicking myself… Almost HALF of the money I spent this week could have been saved! Still, thanks to this, I have an extra $200 that I can throw at my debt. It feels great. Just seeing my frustrations written out has helped me realize how debt is affecting my life. I look forward to continuing this on my own. Let’s hope I can keep it up!

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To be featured anonymously in a future Money Diary, click here. To see other Money Diaries, click here.

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  1. Smart Guy

    You are an idiot.

  2. Erica

    You know, that sucks, that this dude is going to see his post up here and the very first comment is going to be the completely unhelpful “You are an idiot.” It’s not true. This is a guy who has made some bad decisions, sure – but I don’t see idiocy here. I see a concerted effort to move in the right direction. That’s smart. He’s also starting out – a lot of what he wrote has the tone of experimentation to it. That’s great – you can see him get excited about his triumphs and disappointed about his setbacks. How are people – particularly those who didn’t have the benefit of a strong financial education from their parents – supposed to learn better, if not through a process of buckling down, recognizing the problems they have, and trying to fix them?

    Smart guys don’t leave mean-spirited, unhelpful comments.

    To this anonymous author: go you, man. You may find it easier to stick to your resolve by creating an incentive night or something – a compromise with the old ways of doing things, that you do intentionally. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not going out and partying with friends anymore,” say, “Friday is my party night, as long as I’m good the rest of the week.” That way it becomes something special, a reward, and part of the plan – you don’t even have to feel guilty. Making that decision ahead of time, consciously, is a better habit than total deprivation anyway.

    (Naturally, take that as you need – I understand you have some pressing debt and legal obligations.)

    Other than that, though, congratulations on your first week of relative financial sobriety – I wish you all the luck in the world. 🙂 And bully for you for not taking the easy way out and cashing the 401k – you’ll be glad you decided to change habits instead!

  3. Sean O

    This is the first time I have seen these diaries. Good notion. I think i may try this.

  4. Ramit Sethi

    I agree. Smart Guy, if you’re so smart, add some value by suggesting what the writer might do. Also, have the balls to use your real name.

    But, like many critics, it’s easier to call others idiots than to do anything productive, isn’t it?

  5. Mike S

    Great idea but in reality it sounds like he’s trying to go “cold turkey” which is unsustainable. He’ll be back at his old ways in a few weeks…trust me.

  6. Kacie

    I think it’s great that you recognize the need for a drastic lifestyle change.

    With your income and your low financial obligations, you can seriously get rid of that debt in no time.

    You were able to put an extra $200 toward debt, which is awesome. Keep trying to increase that, but be careful that you don’t feel too deprived, otherwise you could rebel and go further into debt.

    It won’t be an overnight change, but if you stay focused on getting out of debt and changing your spending habits, you will be able to do it.

  7. Catherine

    I hope he can keep up the motivation until he gets his cards are paid off. $200 more a pay period would make a serious dent in that debt.

    My word of advice- quit smoking! Almost a pack a day? Seriously, you are going to get lung cancer. You would save almost $1,000/year to put towards your debt. Buy some quit assist product and every time you get a craving- check your credit card balance for inspiration to stay off the cancer sticks.

  8. CPJC

    Do not cash out your 401K. If you have the discipline to not spend it, then maybe stop your contributions for 6-months and use it to get yourself out of debt (accumulating interest). Unless you have an employer match. Then at least contribute enough to get the match.

    I think you would benefit from an automated savings plan, too. $100 per paycheck into a savings account that isn’t linked to your debit account.

    Also, from your writing you seem a bit…manic. Right now you are digging deep to pay off everything that you can. That’s fine at a practical level but it seems like just another extreme behaviour probably similar to what got you deeply in debt in the first place. The impulse to cash out your 401K fits that pattern of extreme behaviour. I think it would be worthwhile to figure out *WHY* you spend money the way you do. Be completely honest with yourself. And closely examine/evaluate the tradeoffs you’re making. Ultimately, money is only the symptom.

  9. Ramit Sethi

    The rest of these comments are awesome.

  10. fax

    While this guy may have made some choices that he’s not so proud of, it’s good that he’s trying to make steps to fixing up his finances! I’ve found that writing down my own goals and posting them up somewhere, then crossing them off the list once I reach them, has helped quite a bit. That way, the goals become more measurable and achievable. (He can start with “getting out of $12k of debt”, or something like that.)

    Keep it up!

  11. Neil

    Is there a penalty for cashing out of the 401k? If not, then wouldn’t it a good idea to do that to pay off at least $7000 of the credit card debt? I would assume that the interest rate for the credit card is much higher than the interest he is accumulating on the 401k, so isn’t the debt rising faster than the growth of his 401k? I admit that I know very little about 401k’s so let me know if I’m way off.

  12. Studenomist

    All I can is that you are just like most of my friends I grew up with. In fact that is why I started my own pf blog because I always find myself trying to help my friends out with their finances.

    My best piece of advice may not be accepted by some of you but it is what one of my friends did. Work all the time, simple. My friend was completely out of control with his partying and bad habbits, so one day his parents forced him to get a job and then another job, and then finally another. This guy ended up with a full time 9-5 job, evening part time gig, and a weekend job.

    Was it worth it? Well he had no time to party, drink, or think about stupid stuff.. This is just my own opinion, but if nothing helps you then just keep busy to the point where you have no time for anything..

  13. Charlie

    @Money Diary writer – awesome post. I hope you can pay off your debt asap.

    @Smart Guy – you are a douche.

  14. mike

    Money Diary Dude, your habits sound like those typical of a young to mid-twenty something in his first career job. My advise:

    1. Seriously consider quitting smoking… or at least limiting it to times when you’re combining it with social drinking. You’ll save countless bucks and you’ll be healthier too.

    2. May be difficult since you live with your folks, but consider limiting yourself to 1-2 nights out per week. If you need to socialize more, invite people over to your digs (or set it up with some buddies at their house) to have a potluck style get-together. My wife and I used to do that when we were younger and childless. We’d have the guys bring beer and the girls bring food. We always ended up with leftovers of both… win-win.

    3. Don’t beat yourself up over the $40 you spent at the end of your week. Instead, set a certain amount of your take home pay into a “FUN MONEY” envelope. Decide ahead of time how much to allot yourself for the week or for every pay period. That way, you can spend the money in the envelope guilt free, but once it runs out… the fun stops.

  15. Liz L.

    I’m 19, in college, and I can totally relatedto this guy. I (thank God) do not have as much debt as him, but I have a enough, and it’s harder without even a job at the moment. I was wondering if, with these money diaries, there are going to be any future follow-ups? I’m trying to do the same thing as him, with cutting back on going out to eat and lowering my spending and costs. I would like to know how well he does – and if there’s hope for the rest of us! Thank you for your post.

  16. Lynette

    I think the first thing you NEED to do is stop smoking. You roughly spent around $24 this week on Cigarettes alone. Not only is it bad for your health, but you are wasting over $1000 a year on death sticks alone.

    Also, cut out the lottery tickets. The amount of money you would save not buying them would probably amount or be more than the prize money you would ever win from them (if you even win at all).

    Next, you are spending most of your money on socializing with friends and work colleagues. Try organizing more get togethers at friends houses then at bars and bring along store bought drinks which are way cheaper than the over priced drinks purchased at bars.Try limiting going out to Friday or Saturday nights.

    Bring lunch to work a few days a week. I know it can seem incredibly lame – but try bringing something exciting like a gourmet home made pizza or healthy wrap. If you bring your own lunch, it’s easier to decline the lunch invites.

    Keep a stash of supermarket bought chocolates (cheaper than the ones purchased at vending machines), cookies, nuts or fruit in your desk drawer so you last the trip home to have dinner without getting take-away on the way.

    If you do go out to a bar with friends, leave your credit card at home and leave a small amount of cash in your wallet for transport and 1 or 2 drinks. That way you can’t over spend because you don’t even have the money on you to do so.

    Hope these tips help 🙂

  17. Dillon

    I would try to avoid cashing out the 401(k) if possible. Over the last 10 months, the value of the 401(k) has probably dropped significantly. Cashing it out is going to incur tax penalties. You’d have to run the numbers to be sure, but you may find that cashing out that 401(k) puts less in your pocket than you put in. That would truly suck.

    Consider also what that $7k will be worth once the market recovers. When I first started working in 2000/2001 I missed out on opportunities to buy into a cheap market. You should take advantage of that now, it may be a while before you get another chance to get in on such low prices.

    If your credit card debt is at an obscene interest rate, that may be a different story, but I’d still be looking for other ways to get the CC debt down or financed more cheaply before I considered touching the 401(k).

  18. Starcher

    “I need cigarettes” says it all. Nobody needs them, they want them, badly. An alternative I see, and it’s not very stylish, is to hand roll cigarettes to save a few pennies until the habit is put to rest. The convenience food adds up too, especially coffee. Why do people think that eating cheap and greasy fast foods is helping them save money when the result of that grease is gym memberships and heart transplants in a few decades? A secret I found was that grocery stores have fresh sandwiches and salad bars for lunching.

    I made the same mistakes in my early 20s that I read in this diary, except the cigarettes. Wealth is in restraint, not indulgence, I found out later. Kicking myself daily for not using my eyes to see how the older people manage their cash.

  19. Valeria | TimelessLessons

    Been there, done it… It won’t be an overnight change, but if you stay focused on getting out of debt and changing your spending habits, you will be able to do it.

  20. bizimunda

    God bless him, but he is doing a nice job.

  21. F


    I think you made a great start, but realize that your method works against you: it currently depends entirely on your willpower, which is very hard on yourself and therefore a recipe for failure or at least mediocre results as you already experienced. My suggested alternative is a plan that decides where your money goes (in advance, saving you from painful improvizing). My guidelines coincide with Mike’s:

    – Grant yourself a generous amount of fun money (if you’re really going to pay down your debt, you deserve it) …but stick to it.
    – keep spending money on fun with friends (which should be a priority in your life since you’re a social guy) but take them to less expensive venues. More importantly: cut out smoking & lottery, instantly! Isn’t spending time with your friends far more important?
    – regularly review & finetune your budget. Know the date you’ll be free from debt; carry a reminder with you. All this provides focus, a boost to your willpower (which will, thanks to your plan, already be under a lot less pressure).

  22. Gregg

    The only overwelming thing I noticed was the smoking…its so easy to actually tell someone to quit smoking, but very difficult to quit. That would most def help either put a dent in the debt OR use that as another form of “fun money”.

    Depending on the state you live in sometimes they offer free tools to help you quit smoking (NYS has this NYS Quits hotline that gives you free gum). Thats an idea if its something you would want to do, as it could help you out healthwise and debt/”fun money” wise.

  23. Mike

    Spoiled, it’s good that you feel guilty about wasting money. Even your “guilty pleasures” make you feel guilty. Hopefully they’ll make you feel more guilty than pleasured. 🙂

    You saved $200 this week. Can you arrange to have money from your paycheck go directly into savings or somewhere that you can’t touch it? You make $1200 every two weeks, what if you were only “making” $800 every two weeks? If you only had that available, could you get by? That is, still have a good time on $400/week? (man I know I could)

    When I see someone drop $40 on drinks at a bar I just flip. I know where I live is cheap (WV) but I know I’ve never spent more than $20 on myself on drinks. Try to hang with your buds at home more. If you have to eat out, eat cheap. (a few days of Taco Hell will make you appreciate home cooking)

    I’d tell you to quit smoking, but that’s probably the one piece of advice you won’t take, and you won’t do that until you get your party issues under control. But I bet you smoke less when you’re not going out to bars.

    Good luck.

  24. Turtle Head

    dude needs to move out of his parents house, maybe then he’d learn how to budget instead of pissing it away going out 5 times a week. grow up.

  25. April

    I agree with some of the others. You need a predetermined amount of “fun money.” Decide on how much you want to spend for the month, take that amount and put in in an envelope. When it’s gone, it’s gone. That way you don’t have to feel guilty if you’re sticking to your plan.

    I’d also draw up a rough budget. You don’t have a lot of expenses, so it shouldn’t be hard. Decide how much money you want to spend toward your debt…set goals for yourself.

    I’m with the others. Quit smoking. I know you probably won’t listen because you’re young and it doesn’t seem like anything will happen to you, but being the health nut that I am, I have to say it anyway. Spend some time in a cancer ward with lung cancer patients if you need some incentive.

  26. Ray Merkler

    Well done! I partially agree with some of the other commenters who think you should move out of your parents’ place, but if they’re willing to take you and your dignity won’t suffer for it, then by all means, stay there until you’re in better shape. I certainly won’t fault you. You’re taking good positive steps, after all.

  27. Caleb

    We all have to start some where bro. You’re not the only one in that boat. Just remember that, in order to climb a mountain you have to start with the first step. How many people look at the mountain and just lay down and give up. I’m sure that we’ll see you at the mountain top one day.


  28. Michael

    You say “I forgot to mention- I smoke. I spend $7 on a pack of cigarettes and lottery tickets. Both are my guilty pleasure.”

    It seems as though your whole lifestyle is a guilty pleasure. While I can see that like to talk about a new approach to what you should do with your money, you seem to have a very difficult time putting it into action.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I enjoyed reading your post.

  29. Amy

    Ah, it’s a rare day I don’t agree with Ramit but this would surely be one of them.
    I’ll start with the disclaimer that I signed up to do these Money Diaries and then did not follow through. It’s important to come clean on that.
    I’m sort of glad I didn’t because, Ramit, you’re being unnecessarily harsh on your authors. It’s not that a flattering headline should be expected for such things, but I think to title this author as spoiled is completely not supported by the content I read here.
    Here is a person spent the time to think about his situation and chronicle it so he could realize some ways to improve. It would be like if you were having people chronicle what they eat for a week in an effort to raise awareness about losing weight and then you called them fat in the headline. This is odd to me and surely not helping your cause of getting people to contribute or learn something.
    Also, I read through his report and it seems that yes, he smokes and doesn’t cook for himself very often. Certainly areas of opportunity here but very similar to 99% of the starving (non-spoiled) artists I’ve met.
    He also says -NO- several times this week as he starts to become aware of what he’s spending. He refuses a few nights out and cancels a trip.
    He’s also contributing to his 401K and his debt biweekly($750 in total – that’s pretty impressive, especially for a 20 something).
    And to really add to the irony, he completes TWO transactions during this week where he ACTUALLY uses his gas tank as a hedge fun (true commodity hedging, not the strange stretch of the definition of hedging that we see in tip #6).
    So while I always expect negativity from commenters, Ramit, I would like to see you give your authors a bit more credit for their efforts by not slamming them before we even get to read the text of the post. Use this as a learning tool (the goal, right) to SHOW where they are improving and where they could do better.
    Calling him an idiot (or agreeing with the moron that did) does not advance any of us at all in our quest to be rich.
    Best to you always,

  30. MandarinZazz

    Hopefully this is more practical advice to start before you take on more serious measures offered by these comments like quitting smoking and drinking.
    1. Go to more house parties, and pre-drinking events. You won’t spend as much at bars. Also, if you desperately need to go to bars and desperately want to save money, bring a flask.
    2. I recommend buying cigarettes away from where you live or online. Find a indian reservation or something. Do this until you can quit. Not 100% of legality of this.
    3. Do not cash out 401k, and cut back to just the matching amount.

  31. HollyS

    I’m 20, I make roughly the same as this guy from my day job (but live on my own) and I smoke so I can kind of relate. I agree with giving up the lottery tickets, but giving up cigarettes is a bit extreme and really isn’t sustainable (assuming it’s just for financial reasons)

    I don’t see why you couldn’t smoke less or roll his own, though. Rolling your own saves a TON of money. It’s like $3 per 30 cigarettes. Also, I mean, I am the same age, I have been smoking regularly since high school and I spend all of $6 a week on cigarettes – maybe. You seem kind of young to be smoking so much, especially if you have your dream job. Also, if you smoke so often, why not buy cartons?

    Even with the lottery tickets, if you don’t give it up then buy less of them. It’s not like you are really increasing your chances a whole lot by buying more..

    Also, I would stop feeling so guilty about things. Don’t waste time feeling guilty – either don’t do it or do better. If you’re spending extra money, at least ENJOY it! Then you can do better next time.

    Also, @ starcher:
    “Why do people think that eating cheap and greasy fast foods is helping them save money when the result of that grease is gym memberships and heart transplants in a few decades? A secret I found was that grocery stores have fresh sandwiches and salad bars for lunching.”

    Slightly offtopic, but, YES. YES YES YES. I don’t know why more people don’t see this.

  32. Battra92

    Well, the Protestant Christian in me would say to give up your smoking and drinking. The budgeting adviser in me would say to give up smoking and drinking. Unfortunately the realist in me has to say, try to cut back your smoking and drinking and work towards eliminating both. Honestly, they are both poison and a steady drain on your money and there’s a lot better things to do with $40 than spend it on deteriorating your liver.

    The lottery tickets should go as well if only for the fact that I don’t quite understand what you’re hoping to gain. Lottery tickets are, as the old saying goes, a tax on those who failed math.

    Maybe I should do this money diary thing. I do have a feeling, though, that some people would probably think that I am not so bad as I think I am.

  33. RT Wolf

    I’d love to see Ramit do a money diary. It’s instructive to see people who can improve, but I’d like to see what the end goal that we’re shooting for is. Who’s with me?

    Some great tips here and I’d just like to highlight a few and add my own. Also, great work in becoming conscious about all of this. I applaud your efforts, I’m interested in your getting a bigger bang for less effort, so the key is to make a lot of these decisions before hand.

    1. Call your credit card company and ask them to reduce your interest rate (this will take a few minutes and they can only say no), and/or ask them to reduce your limit. Additionally, I dunno how many credit cards you have, but I’d suggest researching great rewards credit cards with no annual fees so they pay a little bit for using them, perhaps an air miles card if you travel, and have maybe two or three credit cards max. If you need to take drastic steps, reduce your total limit on all your credit cards to the amount of less than one paycheque. When you get out of school and get a job, companies like to throw credit cards at you, consciously select good ones.
    2. Good thinking on moving back home. I dunno where you are but you may indeed be saving a bunch of money.
    3. Don’t feel so damn guilty. I’d imagine that if you are anything like me, you spent years of working through years of college work, dreaming of the “good life” that you were doing all this for. Now you’re here and it’s not that sustainable. I have other thoughts about this, but I do think you’re justified in having your guilty pleasures for a bit. Of course, eventually it will hollow out and not feel anythign to you.
    4. Pre drink before going out to bars. Much cheaper that way, as I understand it. Don’t get hammered (bars and clubs may not let you in if you are), but you’ll save money.
    5. Now is the time for some serious questions. Why are you smoking? To relieve stress? Why do you need to take those nights out? Are you genuinely interested in having some fun with your friends or are you just chasing your college life fantasy of the “good life” or the “when I have more money” life? Someone else’s conception of what the good life is? You mentioned that you had a bad week and needed to go out. How often does that happen? Is your job fulfilling or just stressful? How about your career? Do you have a career yet? What do you think is the end goal of all this? Will this cycle of work ever end?

    I suggest you read a wonderful book I’ve been reading lately, called Your Money or Your Life, as well as the 4-Hour Work Week. Both books blasted away my notions of what I “should” do money/job/career wise. YMoYL especially forced me to calculate all the money I’ve made since the beginning of my working life (which was a surprisingly large amount even though I’ve never really worked a f/t job yet). Additionally both books suggest figuring out your real hourly rate, instead of yearly which can disguise an excessive amount of hours. YMoYL also suggests you work out exactly what you real hourly rate it, net of transportation time/cost, clothing cost, having to go out and party because your job is stressful or sucks, smoking cause your job is stressful, etc. You might be surprised to see a 17 an hour job go down to 5 dollars an hour. One person mentioned in the book ended up saving more money (income-expenses) by getting a part-time job than a full-time job closer to his home making less money overall. I also love one of the mottos of that book, “No guilt, No blame” I think. Just compassionate attention.

    Both books stress seeking financial independance and I suggest you read them to find out how you feel about that. If you get into it, you could retire…well, very soon and spend the rest of your life living it up and traveling and all those good things. Or you could still be workin 9-5 in fifteen years. Upto you.
    6. Check out Ramit’s article on conscious spending, I think it’s called How my friend spent $21,000 on going out. Another post of his is about sustainable small changes in lifestyle rather than trying to go cold turkey and springing right back with a vengance. Allow yourself to go out for 4 times a week for a while. Then, next month, maybe go down to 3 times a week, pre-drinking and eating before heading out so it’s cheaper each time. Until you get down to 1 day a week or whatever.
    7. It’s really good thinking and really good work to even have a 401k, not to mention 7k in a year. Great work and keep funding this. As someone else suggested, consider having money automatically transferred out of your chequing account into various accounts for savings, living costs, debt, retirement, etc.
    8. You might consider the following balance:
    Notice, that 30% of your money is for your wants. Being adult about money doesn’t mean you don’t have fun, or saving all your money. I believe it’s about being mature and conscious and deciding what gives you the most good feelings. Going out doesn’t register anymore for me, though I still go out and hang out with friends. These days, solving interesting programming puzzles really gets me excited and it’s basically free. It’s all about knowing yourself.

    Finally, I’d suggest you become more conscious about your life. Saving money’s great, but what are you doing that for? This article may help:
    That whole site is genius, I highly recommend it.

    I’ve put a lot of work into this post, so I hope you and others will appreciate it and actually go look up the stuff I’ve said. Change your thinking, change your life. Good luck and enjoy!

  34. Ian

    A couple items of note in this diary – lottery and smoking. I quit smoking cold turkey, so I will not say that it is not easy to do, because it is if you really want to do so. But one thing at a time. I think he would do well to put that extra money toward paying down debt and then make other small adjustments one at a time. First cut back the lottery habit to one ticket, once per week. Stop buying one every time you buy cancer sticks.

    Once the debt is comfortably under control, he may want to start looking to quit smoking, or at least cut back somewhat. It will truly be the death of him, whether sooner or later. Not to mention, the amount of money he can have to treat himself to other things like the $40 dinner out with friends once per week. He should not feel guilty about having a good time every now and then.

    Overall though, he’s on the road to squashing the debt as long as he sticks to paying it down with all the extra cash. Of course, once he gets that done, then he needs to save for his down payment on a house which will present a brand new set of bills and responsibilities. Interesting post.

  35. Chris from St. Mary's

    Money Diary Author,

    Yea, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon about the smoking, drinking and lottery tickets, but seriously, it appears you’re not sure where your money is going. I’d recommend doing a spending plan (where you at least track how much you’re spending where). Use software to figure out how much you’re actually spending on the cigs, booze and tickets. It might give you more incentive to cut back, and not just on those things. Perhaps you have a gaming subscription or something that you enjoy. Then you need to decide which is more enjoyable — being out of debt and saving $$ for a house, or having stuff. It might take a few years.

    A previous commenter asked if there was a penalty for withdrawing from 401K. He could theoretically do a loan, but then he’s just owe on his own money. If he decides to more to a different company, he’ll have the penalty and the extra taxes.

  36. Moneymonk

    Actually I think he’s doing a good job.

    The problem with personal finance when you change lifestyle you because bored very fast and as a 20something, you have to balance and have fun.

    He has time on his side, he make up the difference, he is not married with children with a mortgage. Spending a little money will not kill him.

    Enjoy your 20s…….. I did I am 34 married, child and and a mortgage. I straighten up for as money, saving more, kids’ college, etc. But I do make more, so I was able to pay off my debt in my early 30s

  37. RT Wolf

    I must respectfully disagree with MoneyMonk about having lots of fun now and paying off your debts in the 30s. I’m obviously not a typical 21 year old but I believe that an excessive amount of what seems like escape behaviour (booze, lottery tickets, cigges, going out a lot) points to a fundamnetal disconnect between knowing what you REALLY want in life and accepting what others say you should want and should make you happy or fulfill you. I have fun, too, I go out with friends quite a bit, but I try to keep these things in perspective.

    Your finances follow your values. And I try to make financial independance a value. I have no interest in being in my 30s and still working because I have to work for a mortgage, kids college, etc. The money author has every right to disagree with me on that, but I’d say his behaviour of buying lottery tickets points to a wish to get out of the rat race.

  38. Anya

    I’m really impressed with this author and his restraint during his diary. I wonder whether he felt suffocated, however. If he does, he’s not going to last very long. One thing I might recommend is choosing one or two changes a week, that way you’re not doing anything “cold turkey” and you’ll have that extra control over said changes, making you feel a little more powerful. I agree that he seems a little manic, and expresses a lot of guilt. That probably means that he’s on the brink of change.

    I’m not going to tell you to stop smoking because if you’re giving up one vice, that’s already enough change to deal with. One thing at a time, you know?? As far as “going out” money… I’ve started putting cash in an envelope each time I get paid, and that’s my party money. It really helps, because when it’s gone, you’re done. And if you go over and swipe your card for some expensive dinner, don’t beat yourself up about it. It only leads to a subconscios mentality of “Well, I already screwed up this week… who cares what I do now!” similar to that of someone dieting and eating a handful of m&m’s. I understand the role that partying and going out plays in one’s social life, and as a fellow 20-something, the total lack of desire to give it up.

    Agressively contributing to your 401k is really impressive, but do NOT touch that!

    @Turtle Head: You’ve GOT to be kidding! He made one of the most financially responsible decisions he could be moving home and paying his debt down. And did you read the post? He’s already recognized that going out 5 nights a week needed to change and is attempting to do just that. Why pay rent when he can spend a year trying to get a handle on CC debt? Let’s try and focus on what’s to come, rather than crucifying him for old habits?

  39. Maureen

    Like many of the money diaries before this there is a distinct pattern of not being able to suck it up and say, “I can’t afford to go out today.” I realize how difficult this can be and I know that a lot of what influences us is society. I’m not saying don’t have a social life but perhaps agree to go out for lunch with co-workers perhaps 3 out of 5 work days. That way you will still be able to keep up with your colleagues without breaking the bank.

    Your post is similar to “Jane’s” a few days back. This does not seem like an average week at all for you. You don’t have weddings every week and you don’t jet off to places every week. This means that you need to budget annually whilst taking into account the surplus you need for these “irregular” occasions including birthdays, christmases and weddings. That way you can have a more realistic outlook on what you can spend for the rest of the year.

  40. Kimber

    I don’t know who started the myth
    that having fun cost money
    but I’m pretty sure it was a marketer.

    It sounds like you have a great group of friends.
    Have you thought about organizing some sort of sport event (basketball, football game) instead of organizing dinners?
    Or a wayback movie night (with movies from your high school days, I’m sure someone has a tv and DVD player)?
    Or borrow guitar hero from someone and battle it out on the guitar?
    Or organize an Amazing Race within your town (if you have fun at this, it could be a source of income)?
    Or pick some random free event (the whackier the better) to attend?

    Think of this challenge as a sign to do something different!
    You’re only limited by cash,
    not by creativity.

  41. Glow Monster

    Suggestion #1: Do not try to stop smoking at this time. Fighting both that urge and the urge to forgo spending as usual will prove too much for you and you will fold. My suggestion is to continue implementing these financial cutback steps for a few weeks to get into a groove. After that work on a program to slowly wean yourself off the cigarettes; do no stop cold turkey or you will regress.
    Suggestion #2: Read some financial help books to inspire you to continue this behaviour. They are life savers.

  42. AT

    A lot of things in this diary point to the connection between weight loss and financial goals.

    1. Obviously quitting smoking would save this gentleman a ton of money, but that’s a very drastic change. Those who do not smoke likely do not understand what it takes to quit. This is like saying “stop eating food” to an overweight individual. Cutting down on cigarettes, like going from a pack a day to a pack every 2-3 days, is likely more sustainable.

    2. Feeling guilty about the $40 meal is like feeling guilty about a slip up in your diet. Saving money or losing weight are long term lifestyle changes, so no need to fret about one slip up here and there. Its all about making small sustainable changes Looking at your savings in the long term (over the course of 1 week, 1 month, etc) will give you a better outlook.

    3. Not weight related, but consider reducing (not cashing out) your 401K contributions. What’s in the account already, leave it there, but moving forward contribute enough to get your company match and put the rest towards your debt. If your credit card interest is high like most CCs, the return you will get from paying off debt may be higher than returns from investing.

  43. PDXGirl

    Money Diary Dude sounds a lot like me four or five years ago, although I didn’t smoke quite that much and I don’t usually by lottery tickets 🙂

    The first thing I did to get my spending under control was to use the envelope budgeting system. Someone already touched on taking out the cash for going out and when it’s gone it’s gone, do that for all of your discretionary spending and freeze your credit card in a block of ice, literally.

    for example you might have 5 envelopes listed
    Lunches: $X
    Parties: $X
    Clothing: $X
    Hobbies: $X
    Gas: $X

    And then you decide how much to put in each paycheck. With clothing you might put in $50 a month and take out $200 every 4 months to update your wardrobe and you don’t have to feel guilty because that’s what the money is for.

    Same with going out, you can start with $100 a week since that’s significantly lower than you’re currently spending and once you get to a point where $100 a week is easy you can lower it and put the extra into an actual savings account.

    Oh, and with the savings account, I would recommend opening one at a different bank than you already use and setting up direct deposit to it of whatever amount you think you should be putting toward intermediate savings. You won’t miss the money and if you don’t get an ATM card and you can’t make a phone transfer between the banks you’ll have to make a very concerted effort to get to the money when you need it. No tipsy ATM runs! (Trust me, I’ve been there!)

    Don’t forget to have some fun! Just work on toning it down a bit… in everything there’s a middle ground.

  44. Daniel

    I can’t believe this kid will blow $40 on booze and partying, but won’t buy a wedding gift.

    Being frugal is one things, being a cheap bastard with no priorities is another.

  45. F

    I must admit that I, too, cringed when I read about the wedding gift. You can be frugile on yourself but never on others (especially if they are generous with you). Or you could give a

    I like the pre-drink tip. I know ‘experienced drinkers’ who’d spend a multiple of $40 a night on booze, and now start the night with a few rounds in one of the friends’ home.

  46. F

    (continuation of the aborted phraze: “or you could give a special home-made gift, which costs effort rather than money”)

  47. Ted

    Well first off ,the title of the post is “Spoiled 20-something used to living beyond his means”. And that pretty much sums it up.

    After reading the posts, all I see is someone who refrained from excess under public scrutiny. And I don’t see any moves towards permanent change; no goals set and no plans discussed. All of his decisions around money were impulsive. Without the shame associated with his dirty laundry being aired on the internet, my guess is he would have gone to Chicago.

    I had a few co-workers exactly like this (right out of school, making good money, living at home, and partying all the time), and the bouts of thriftiness would be wiped out by a trip to Atlantic City, or a set of Golf Clubs.

    My main advice would be to MOVE OUT OF YOUR PARENTS HOUSE. The warm feeling of housing security dulls your financial senses. You get into a pattern of behavior that existed when you were back in high school.

    “What me worry? Sure I got some credit card debt, but at least I don’t have to worry about rent!!”

    “Uh, living with my parents is stressing me out, I gotta get outta here and hang out with my friends!!!” (lights up a cigarette)

    There is nothing like the responsibility of maintaining a household to set a fire under your ass.

  48. Green Panda

    Money Diaries Author:
    My uncle was a smoker so I know quitting is hard, but if you can quit, you’ll put some money in your wallet and build some good health. (plus being a non-smoker lowers insurance rates)

    I’d start small and cut down to going out 2 days to eat out and have dinner with friends. Yo’ll still save money compared to eating out 5x/week and it’s more sustainable.

  49. Jaclyn

    Re: Amy’s comment

    I’m pretty sure the title was developed by the author. I did one of these and we were asked to create our own one line description of ourselves and there were a few examples just like that given as guidance…I’m sure Ramit can confirm, but I know I made up one about myself.

  50. Quinn

    I’ve gotta say good job to him for curbing his spending for now so I’ve got no qualms about his habits or his attempt at improving because it seems obvious that he is trying.

    However, this blog was incredibly dull. The content. I found myself wanting to rush through and finish it already–it was so boring.

  51. Jordan

    The smartest investment was the fuel.

    The expenditure that could be done without: smoking and lottery tickets. To survive your 20s you need booze and Taco Bell so I won’t tell you what you already know.

    Even at my poorest I was still smoking expensive cigarettes. I’d never spend money on cheap smokes I’d just bum off friends. Rolling your own is NASTY. Spoiled 20 year old is s good title for this post. Cheap vodka and cigs…not havin’ it!

    Just quit if not for your health but so you don’t fund the government with their outrageous mark ups! I mean you’re already buying fuel and you want to give the gov. mo’ money?

    Stop there and keep in mind that all cigarettes are expensive even the cheap ones. Otherwise I think you did pretty good.

  52. kevin

    This is the STORY OF MY LIFE!! With a few minor exceptions, I can almost relate completely. I like what one commenter said about “manic” behavior … I actually considered selling my car to save the $500/month I’m paying in gas and car insurance even though it’d be totally impractical to go carless in Los Angeles. (My car insurance is your legal trouble.)

    Many commenters have left some excellent tips already, but since you remind me so much of myself, I’ll add a bit about what I did:
    • I agree with everyone who said going “cold turkey” will backfire. You recognized yourself that you can’t seem to stay under $450 per paycheck.
    • If you haven’t already, get rid of those credit cards! Freeze an emergency card in a block of ice. (I gave them all to my roommate to hide.) Pretend you don’t have access to credit. I know this is easier said than done — it has taken me roughly four months to quit credit completely. I borrow from friends if absolutely necessary (it rarely is), and the shame keeps me in check.
    • I also noticed my 401k growing considerably and realized that I wasn’t touching it because it was being taken from my paycheck before I ever saw it. Set up AUTOMATIC SAVINGS immediately. I tried two things:
    1 – set up an auto transfer of $100 to my savings after each paycheck was direct deposited into my checking account. This worked alright, but my spending was so out of control I kept dipping into savings.
    2 – set up DIRECT DEPOSIT of 10% into my HSBC high-interest savings account. The account is rather illiquid (takes 3 days to transfer to my checking, for instance) so it discourages me from touching it. Also, it looks like the amount being deposited into my checking account is how much I’m being paid, so I limit my spending accordingly. Sounds like setting the clock 5 min fast to trick yourself into being early, but so far it has worked!

  53. hungryelmo

    Wow. The author has no will power.
    1 Stop buying lottery tickets. You won’t win and you’re throwing money down the drain. 3 Lottery tickets will get you a drink at Starbucks.
    2 Buy cartons of cigarettes from Costco or somewhere cheap. Don’t have membership? I’m sure one of your friend will have one, so tag along next time your friend is making a trip to Costco. If you are currently smoking 20 cigarettes a day (a pack?), try reducing down to 15.
    3 Stop making contributions to 401K, but don’t cash out! If your employer matches your contribution, then at least contribute the minimum amount to get matching. If you do stop your contribution, that extra in take-home pay should immediately go to pay your credit card debt. You can make multiple payments to your CC in a month, so do it right away before you spend it all.
    4 Bring lunch to work. Also go to grocery stores and stock up on cup ramens and canned soups and keep them at work. Make sure to also bring a can opener and a soup bowl. These are backup meals in case you forget to pack more nutritious meals to work, so that you won’t be tempted to go out or spend money at the cafeteria.
    5 Eat your lunch early. I’m guessing you have no will power to say no to your co-workers if they ask you to go out with them. And my guess is even if you brought lunch, you’ll probably go out anyway because let’s be honest… eating out is fun. So eat your lunch early, like at 11AM. It’s much easier to turn down if you’ve eaten your lunch already, and your co-workers won’t ask you either. Make sure to stock up on granola bars or something to munch on when you get hungry later.
    6 Bring cash when you go out. Leave your CC at home. If your friends are planning for dinner and doing something later, pick and choose one event… either eat with them and leave, or just join them after dinner for drinking or clubbing.
    I think you should finish paying down your debt while your parents let you live at their home… In a couple of years, they’ll be fed up and will kick you out. When you’re on your own, you’ll have less fun money to spend.

  54. Turtle Head

    @Anya: I did in fact read the post. Generally most of the comments prior to mine were congratulatory in cleaning up his irresponsible financial management, fine. The arrogance of the poster cuts right through the text. Nice work you fixed a mess that you shouldn’t be in in the first place? Big difference between a few bad choices and 12k in debt and 6k in legal bills. At the bar, this popped collar ass is easy to point out, though I feel most of those who related to him are of the same ilk, to each his own. As a commenter has posted, living at home can lead to a skewed view of financial responsibility. He obviously makes enough money to be financially secure and subsequently pointed out his excesses. This mess could partially be avoided without the crutch of living at home and acquiring the “penchant for the good life”. Live within your means, not like your idols on television.

  55. Sara

    Don’t try to quit smoking right now. It’s bad for you and expensive, yeah, but it’s too much to try to to do at once. I also commend you on your success this week, but you need a plan if you want to succeed in the long-term because I don’t think your restrictiveness this week is sustainable. First, you can and should stop using your credit cards if you haven’t already. You can still use cash to go out and do whatever, but if you stop using the cards, you won’t build any more debt. That, is really not that hard. Second, find ways to still have fun but are cheaper. How did you have fun in college? Didn’t you drink before you went out? Hang out at people’s apartments? You could also buy a flask and carry cheap liquor around with you.

    Also, be honest with your friends about your debt. It’s not embarrassing to be in your 20s and have credit card and student loan debt. A ton of people do. Tell your friends that you are poor and need to eat cheaper places or go to cheaper bars. I can’t think of any friend, even if they are a really high salary, who would think badly of me if I or any of our friends said that. They will seriously understand. Find some financially responsible friends and latch onto them. Emulate their habits, etc.

    Also, you might consider finding a part-time second job or doing some freelancing to help you pay down the debt more quickly.

  56. TPinIOWA

    This is great. The first step to change is awareness. Keeping a detailed account of your discretionary expenses for one month gives valuable insight into who you are, where your heart is, what is important, what is not important, and what can you do to improve. It is empowering to be honest with yourself. Especially in the arena of personal finance. Most people have no idea where they spend their money. Keep it up. I am working on the same thing.

  57. CJY


    “Wealth is in restraint, not indulgence…”

    I love that…so wise. I’m going to remember that.

  58. From the Author...

    First off, thank you all for for your input- whether it was meant to be constructive or negative.

    I wrote this about a month ago and have learned a lot since then. All the comments that pointed out my “manic” attempt to save money were actually mildly correct. This was my first real attempt to change the error of my ways and I did it in a very drastic fashion. Sure, I saved a lot of money that one week, but I’ve realized that I need to find a comfortable middle ground while also keeping in mind that one of my biggest priorities in life right now is getting out of debt.

    One thing that was left out of my “Note from Author” was that approximately 9K of my CC debt is at 0% interest for another 12 months. This may prove those right who were hating on me living at home… I used it as a crutch and subsequently got further into debt. Another thing is that I created the title of this post myself, not Ramit. In my intro “essay” to qualify for this, I explained the amazing lifestyle my family has provided me up through college in detail. Now that I have a career, I wasn’t cut off, but it is expected of me to provide for myself… I did so just as I have my whole life, but realize that I can’t afford $300 pairs of jeans whenever I wanted, etc. I didn’t explain this because I didn’t want to come off as a brat. By the way, it is extremely cheap to live where I’m at, so my salary is considered extremely high for someone fresh out of college… this may have added to some sort of false sense financial well-being.

    For those hating on my living at home- I realize where you’re coming from. I actually hate it… I need a place of my own. This is probably the largest factor driving me to achieve my goal of getting out of debt ASAP. I’d rather spend one more year at my parent’s house instead of taking a few years to pay off the same amount of money.

    The good news is that I’ve probably saved about $400 extra since I wrote this article a month ago. I’m still plugging away at it! I have an excel spreadsheet that helps me allocate my funds too. I go home for lunch everyday except for Friday w/ coworkers, and writing this article has taught me that writing down every expenditure helps me achieve my goal. I’ve read some really helpful tips from you all and plan putting them into action!

    I wrote this article to document what I consider to be my first steps towards financial responsibility. Take from it what you will. Its comforting to see how many people can relate to my situation or give me constrictive feedback.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’m not an idiot. I didn’t go to Chicago that weekend.

  59. Ben

    The lottery is a tax on [statistical] ignorance. Just don’t.

  60. Raj


    I sympathize with your situation tremendously. It is difficult to live the basic and typical young urban professional lifestyle without spending a ton. Kudos to living at home: that saves a ton of money, provided the parent units are ok with it. I know Ramit does not put much stock in trimming little costs here and there, but I’ve found that ordering an espresso shot instead of a fancier drink from Starbucks can save a ton, especially if you do it every day. After all, it’s the caffeine that we want, right? Also, if you’re overzealous with the bar scene, consider committing to buying only one alcoholic drink per bar per night. Have subsequent drinks (if any) be non-alcoholic. This saves a ton of money as well. And I agree with previous comments regarding the credit card debt. I would even recommend stopping 401(k) contributions completely (making sure not to withdraw from the account) and applying those funds directly to paying off your credit cards. The minute the credit card debt is clear, restart the 401(k) contributions before you even blink.

    All the best,


  61. Bridget


    Good start! You might want to consider giving your parents rent money. I think they’d appreciate the gesture and you’d have an even better idea of how you’ll need to budget in the future. Not that your parents might, but my friends saved their son’s rent money unbeknownst to him and then gave him a cool sum of money when he left home.

  62. quinsy

    Hi there, I am a physician and I am glad to see you making changes in your life. I am hoping that since you are now getting into the hang of financial change, you might be interested in quitting cigarettes too. It is the best thing you can do for your health. I also worry about the fact that you seemed to treat the cigarettes as a reward for good behavior. My #1 suggestion to you would be to look at the things you enjoy and try to come up with other reward systems for yourself. Many of my patients tell me “it’s my only bad habit” (sort of the way you say “it’s my guilty pleasure”). I tell them “you picked the wrong bad habit.”

    Tips on quitting smoking:
    1. Do it in a way that works for you (cold turkey vs. cutting down). Don’t feel like you have to do it one way or the other since it is about you and your behavior and you know best how to change that.
    2. Visit your doctor. The simple fact that your doctor tells you to quit smoking has been shown to help people quit smoking. Especially since you seem to be the type that performs well when being watched by an audience, hence the diaries. Also, we have many great resources to help people quit these days, from Chantix to Zyban to nicotine patches. We can help you come up with a great plan to help make quitting easier. Your insurance will likely cover this. Expenditures from both you and your insurance company will be saved big time by quitting!
    3. Think about your habits in order to break them. The best way to break habits is to think about what causes them to manifest. Same as with finances, you have found that avoiding going out with friends saves you money. It might help keep you from smoking too if it keeps you out of bars! If you smoke in the car, put gum or mints or something in the car to keep yourself busy. If you smoke at home, throw your ashtrays away.

    Those are my best quick tips, I hope they’re helpful! Best of luck in both knocking out your debt and improving your health. We are rooting for you.

  63. xmasy

    people dont listen to me but i say the hell with 401K. i dont have a dime in a 401K plan but have a lot to show… me…a lot.

  64. xmasy

    oh yeah…another thing…drink a lot at home before going out to the bars……

  65. robwiss

    Don’t cash out your 401k. The automatic deduction from your paycheck and the obstacle of having to actually cash it out are the only reason you have any money at all right now. The only reason you have that money is because you’ve never thought about it. Stop thinking about it and keep contributing to it.

    Consider setting up an automatic saver plan with an ING account. It takes 15 minutes to set up an ING account, link it to your bank account, and set it to automatically deduct from your account once a paycheck. You saved around $200 this week. Put around $400 a month into your ING account every month. Consider going to $500. You may be surprised how easy it could be to have $500 less a month. Remind yourself that you must save this money and use it to pay your debt at the end of the month. Once your debt is paid continue saving the money.

    Go to the ATM once a week and take out $100. Use this money for food/entertainment/cigarettes. Keep any extra in your wallet. Don’t purchase anything unless you do it with cash. It is well established that people spend more when they buy with credit cards instead of cash. If you manage to save some of your $100, take it out of your wallet and set it aside. You only get $100 a week. I keep gas out of the $100 since I view it as a necessary expenditure and it’s harder to stay under $100 with gas involved. You felt horrible about some of your decent decisions this week because you had no budget. $9 for a pizza buffet wasn’t bad. $16 on gas wasn’t bad.

    Considering that I know someone who dropped $40 on Touchtunes (the jukeboxes in bars) this weekend, I don’t think you’re doing that bad. However, you lack a plan. Whether you choose my plan, another poster’s plan, or decide on one of your own, you need to pick one or you will soon be right back to foolish spending.

  66. finance girl

    Well, it sounds like you know you need to change some of your daily habits so you are more financially disciplined, and that’s a great start.

    Is there a way you can bring some basic foodstuffs with you to work to keep you from impulsive food purchases?

    That way you will eat more healthy food (assuming you are bringing things like fruits, grains, veggies to work) and save money?

    Anyway that when you go out, you alternate between alcoholic drink and bottled water? 2 birds with 1 stone in that it’s healthier and cheaper.

    Do Not Touch That 401k!!!!!!

  67. Doctor S

    Sometimes when people open themselves up like this, they do it to try and find answers to move forward from the past. He did not do this to get ridiculed, regardless of how bad or good his past decisions were. Congrats to him for wanting to change and opening himself up to the public. I would do it in a second.

    Whatever you do, dont cash out your 401K, you will thank all of us later!

    If you have to, pick up an extra part time job if possible, and devote all those earnings to additional payments on credit cards.

    Stop going out for a month and see how much you save. You want changes in the future you gotta make moves now!

    These comments are amazing, I might have to share my issues with everyone.

  68. ArsBars

    As a 20something myself…one spending habit I’ve worked on that makes a big difference is the Starbucks spending! $3.50 on a drink, adds up after a couple fancy coffee drinks in a week. Invest in a mug and bring your own, or I’m sure your office has a coffee maker, start taking advantage of that. Another way to cut back on Starbucks spending is instead of buying the fancy espresso drinks, order straight up coffee instead! Good luck!

  69. The Money Diaries « elle & ish – shopping, decor, fashion, makeup and figuring out how to pay for it all

    […] The Money Diaries: The spoiled 20-something used to living beyond his means […]

  70. Baru

    Interesting and kuddo’s fpr the person who wants to look at their financial habits. The funny part of it is that if you’ve friends that always go out for dinner and for drinks, you let your friends decide about your financial future, abeit no financial future as all will be spent on eating and drinking out. We cook for each other or do potluck. Granted it’s probably a revolutionary concept but cooking at home is so much cheaper, healthier. Why does hanging out with friends and having fun always need to cost more money than you can spend? What are you trying to proof? That impulse buying works? For who does this work? What can you do to change your habits? Eat out, drink out, and be not so merry after you see your bank account at zero? What are the choices and changes you can make?

  71. Kimberly

    My advice:

    1) Begin investigating less expensive ways to have fun. What you’re doing is great but if you feel deprived, sooner or later it will boomerang. Realize that the ways in which we typically have fun are habits, and not our only options.

    2) Living with parents allows for much more disposable income than you would have living entirely on your own dime. Make a spread sheet that includes all the things you’re not currently paying for such as rent/mortgage, home owners/rental insurance, garbage collection, cable, internet, landline, utilities, healthcare, food, savings, etc. Figure out what you would be paying for all these things per month, and subtract that amount from your net pay to find out what you have leftover. This is the amount your entertainment budget will eventually need to fall within. I’m not suggesting that you immediately make this change. Just keep it in mind and perhaps start moving towards that reality.

    3) Make a realistic budget you can stick to. There probably are many online sources that can help you create one. You can also ask the advice of someone older who’s money handling skills you admire.

    Good luck! You are off to a good start.