Last week, my beloved e-reader fell to the floor and the screen shattered. I am not on the cutting edge of technology, as you would guess from the fact that the e-reader was a five-year-old original style Kindle. In replacing it, I realized I’m feeling a little left out of all the fun games and apps floating around for smart phones and tablets. In truth, I have a little bit of Angry Birds envy.
So even though I’m late to the game, I am finally going to buy a tablet. Specifically a nice, basic, 16GB iPad mini. Which means I need to save up $299, plus tax, warranty (especially the accident coverage), some kind of fun skin, and a super hard-core shock and water-proof carrying case. In all, my savings goal is $400.
I am no stranger to budgeting. In fact, I spend my Wednesday nights teaching budgeting to a group of homeless youth. So I have a pretty good idea where to start. My fiance and I use (and teach) Elizabeth Warren’s 50-30-20 budgeting plan. This means that we keep our needs (food, shelter, transportation, medical) to around 50 percent of our income. While this is unrealistic for someone making minimum wage, it was within reach of us on student loans and a graduate teaching assistant stipend. We moved to a city with a lower cost of living rather than our dream location. We took a cheap apartment outside of town, use public transportation to commute, use low-tech cell phones, and keep a 10-year-old car. By keeping our needs low, we don’t have to look for places to cut; there is already enough money.
Under the 50-20-30 plan, 20 percent of our income goes directly into savings, and 30 percent is for our wants. Out of that, we have some regularly budgeted items we both agree to pay for. The remainder is our “walking money” that we each get to spend as we like, no questions asked. In order to save up for my iPad mini, I plan to set aside 10 percent of the cost of the iPad mini each month out of my walking money, which will allow me to buy one in 10 months. Since our budget already allows a certain amount toward fun, it is only a matter of re-directing it, instead of making major sacrifices.