Now that Cam and I are settling in to life in here South Carolina, we’ve been working to make sure that our finances are in order. Even though we’ve been married for a year, this is the first time that we’re both working full-time, now that Cam is done with grad school, so we’re really trying to make sure that we start things out on the right foot financially. I must admit, I am really blessed that Cam is much more gifted then me when it comes to finances. (He’s definitely a numbers person, while I’m a words person…I’m sure this comes as a shock) He’s really taken the reins in this area to create a plan to make sure that we’re contributing to our retirement, growing our savings, and sticking to our budget. Ugh. Budget. I’ll admit, I am not a huge fan of this word. I just hate the feeling of being constrained that we can only spend this amount on this category in this month. I know that’s not exactly how a budget works, but that’s how I feel, like I have these strict parameters that are so confining. Deep down, I know that having a budget and sticking to it is the key to real financial freedom in the sense that it ensures that we spend within our means, have money saved for important purchases, and are prepared for the unexpected. However, I have also come to realize that there are a great number of parallels between money and food. The relationships that people have with these two things account for a lot of the problems in our society, but it’s really amazing how similar they are. They are meant to be used as tools to help us live fulfilling lives, not as forces that have control over us and create destruction, but unfortunately that’s the role they play in many people’s lives. Just as food gives you energy and health to enjoy life, money should provide you with the resources to achieve your goals. And as Ben Franklin once said, “eat to live, not live to eat,” making money shouldn’t be what your life revolves around. But while all that’s well and good, the places where I tend to struggle with money is the same place I struggle with food–consuming empty calories. What do I mean? I eat things that aren’t good for me that I don’t really enjoy when I’m not really even hungry. For example, I will mindlessly eat Nutella and graham crackers in front of the tv; I’m not really enjoying them, they’re not really satisfying my hunger, and I just end up feeling like crap later. I notice that I do the same thing with money quite often. I’ll go to Target (such a landmine for me!) and inevitably end up spending $100. On what? A random collection of things that I don’t really need, I probably won’t remember buying in a week, and I usually regret after. All this guilt, less money, more calories, on things I’m not even enjoying. So this fall, I am really trying to make a more concious effort to stop spending my money/calories on mindless things I’m not going to enjoy, and instead to save them for things that are really worth it. So this means holding out for a decadent dessert at a restaurant or a nice pair of leather boots instead of my normal tendency to just buy cheap boots at TJ’s that I know will fall apart after I wear them a few times or polishing off the remains of a bag of stale marshmallows while watching Bravo. So I’m trying to work on this issue, I’ll admit, I can get really bored talking about finances, however, Cam’s been wanting to talk about our budget a lot lately, and sometimes I just get a little overwhelmed. But I happened to be at the library a few weekends ago and I saw this bright pink book with a high heel on the cover in the new books section. I picked it up thinking it was a new chick-lit novel, but alas it was a book about personal finance! (I just can’t get a break from all this money talk!) “Shoo, Jimmy Choo!” by Catey Hill is basically a modern girls’ guide to money. I flipped through it and found it very funny and entertaining, and I felt like she was describing me and my friends. She basically tries to give a basic overview of all personal finance issues to 20-somethings that could use some help managing their money (aka you have a degree in Communications like myself). And while it is fairly repetive and all common sense, it really speaks to a demographic that I fall into, aka working college grad with a penchant for shopping, and it tries to make finance more relateable to a young woman’s life. One thing that she talks about that I could really relate to was identifying your spending triggers, aka the whole empty calories issue. But everyone has different issues when it comes to finances and this book helps you identify what your trouble spots are, and helps you put a plan in place to reach your financial goals. So while this book isn’t really providing any earth-shaking information (basically it was everything Cam and I had been talking about, the only difference is the message comes wrapped up in a bright pink package with a stiletto on the front), it’s definitely a book that I would suggest to any of my girlfriends!