Tips to Save More Money

 

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Hello, lovelies! It’s time for another finance post. I thought I would share with you some tips I have discovered during my twenties that have really helped save me some money over the years. If you’d like to see more finance posts, leave a comment down below and I will be sure to write more on this subject.

Without further delay, let’s jump right into it.

Unsubscribe from coupon emails

Out of sight, out of mind. Having those email coupons inundate your inbox can make even the strongest wills break. Just like that old trick of freezing your credit card so you don’t use it, people have gone through very drastic steps to avoid overspending. This is one of the easiest steps to take. If you can’t see the new cool things being released by your favorite brands, you won’t be tempted to break budget and splurge. This goes for clothing stores, amazon, kindle, music releases, etc. Unsubscribing will leave your inbox cleaner, and your mind happily oblivious to the new trends in consumerism.

Cash back only works if you pay off your card each month

It might be really tempting to assume, “oh, well I can just put this on my credit card. I’m getting cash back on all my purchases, after all.” Wrong. Unless you consecutively pay your card down to zero at the end of the month, that cash back is pennies compared to the interest you are being charged by having a balance left on your card, and can actually end up costing you money. You might think you are saving money by using your card more, but unless you are paying it off each month, that money back bribery is costing you more. So you might have $16 of cash back and think, “Alright! I’m getting cash back!” but if you take the time to read your bill, you may find that your monthly interest cost for that month is $32, leaving you paying $16 more. If, however, you are one of those people who is consistent with paying off your card, that cash back is indeed beneficial.

Create a budget

Creating a budget is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself if you are trying to save money. A lot of people have no idea what’s going on with their finances, or leave the finances up to their partner. While it might be nice not to have to worry about money every second of the day, by avoiding the problem, you are often only making it worse. If you know you are currently having money issues, the only thing there is to do is to look into the problem and find out why. Just like looking under a bandaid at a nasty cut, no one wants to do it, but if you leave it, the problem could become much worse. The first step to correcting your financial troubles is to get control of them, and by control, I mean you should know where every single penny that comes into your pocket is going. You can find out more about creating a budget in my post, How to Budget in Your Twenties.

Cancel subscriptions you don’t really need

Are you one of those people who is subscribed to every internet platform possible? Maybe you have a YoutubeRed account, an 8Tracks account, you are paying for a domain, and Amazon Prime too. Oh, and let’s not forget netflix. All those monthly subscriptions can add up. Ask yourself if you really need to be subscribed to all those things. Sit down and figure out which ones can be eliminated, and then take the steps to cancel those expenses.

Do more home cooking

Eating out can be extremely expensive, especially if it includes alcoholic beverages. This is another category where, if you don’t keep track of your spending, can end up getting out of control fast. You can still enjoy the occasional dinner out (alcoholic beverages included), but another suggestion is to try your hand at more home cooking. By buying discount food items at the store and preparing the food at home, you can end up saving a ton of money. Not only can you make delicious meals to your liking, but you can hone your cooking skills too. There are a ton of youtube videos that discuss buying weekly or monthly groceries for a certain budget, and shows you how to prepare your ingredients if you are unsure how to cook them.

Carpool

Are you and a friend going to the same place? It would be silly to spend two trips worth of gas when you could ride together for one. Switch it up weekly so that the cost of gas is evenly distributed between the group. It’ll give you more time to chat with them, and save you money at the same time. Make sure your friends don’t abuse this system, though, by making you drive every time.

Shop sales

If you do find yourself out at a store, whether for clothes or food, by shopping sales you can end up saving more money than you would think. So you’ve unsubscribed from those clothing store coupons, but you know there’s a sale coming up at the end of the month. Stores usually post sales for major holidays and semi annually. If you are familiar with these schedules, it’s easy to plan your shopping days when you know there will be a sale going on. When you go into the store, be sure to start your shopping trip at the back near the clearance items. This is a great way to find cheaper clothing first, and if you don’t find anything you like, then you can browse the newer collection.

Use coupons

When I was growing up, I remember going to the grocery store with my mother and watching her pull out her divided wallet of coupons. She already had a stack together based on what she knew she would buy, and she handed that over to the cashier. It can be tedious finding coupons, but when you’re really pinched for cash, just remember that this option is always available. It might not save you a ton of money, but if you are doing a big shopping trip, it’s one of those things that can add up to quite a savings.

Avoid late fees

These things are so annoying and they always make me so angry. If you are late paying a bill–or worse, overdraw your account–they charge you a fee. Usually this fee is quite a lot of money, upwards of $30. Now, if you are late paying a bill or overdraw your account, chances are you didn’t have the money to begin with. So what do they do? Charge you more. Luckily I pay enough attention to my account balances and bills that this rarely happens for me, but it can be a pain when it does happen. No one ever expects it, and the additional fee can really throw a wrench in things. Again, the best way to avoid this is to stick to budget and make sure you know where your money is going.

Use your library

The library isn’t just for books. You can find lots of stuff there, including free internet, magazines, movies, and cds. Best of all, a library card is free. If you find yourself short on cash, but still want to enjoy a recreational past time like reading or watching movies, check them out of your library. As long as you return them within the certain amount of time, it’s all free. You can read classics all the way to modern publications if you time it right, and their selection of movies is pretty broad too. If your local library doesn’t have what you are looking for, there are always other branches you can travel to in order to find what you want. I personally love libraries and the quite spaces you can find in the corners amidst the books. It’s great for reading, studying, browsing the internet, or socializing. In fact, most libraries these days double as a community center. You can find cheap or free classes depending on where you live. For example, the Pittsburgh Carnegie library offers free language classes! How cool is that?

Make your morning coffee at home

Starbucks are on every block these days, and it’s so tempting to stop by one on your way to work, but just like everything else, morning coffees can add up. If you are someone who needs the caffeine to function, consider preparing your own coffee at home. By buying in bulk from the grocery store, you can save some extra cash, and it doesn’t take that long to brew a fresh pot or cup. Kurig’s can get expensive, but if you stick to grounds or whole beans, you can use as much or as little as you want, making it last as long as you want too.

Know when to keep or throw away groceries

How many times have you gone to the store, bought kale, spinach, and limes with every intention of using them, but at the end of the month find yourself always throwing them away because they’ve spoiled? This happens more often than I’d like to admit. If you know you really aren’t going to use quickly perishable items, why buy them in the first place? Shop intentionally. If you have a recipe that calls for fresh vegetables, then by all means buy them and use them, but don’t just go through the store picking up things randomly if you have no idea what you’re going to use them for. They’re just going to sit in your fridge until you clean it out and throw them away. Conversely, there are also people who don’t know when to throw their produce or meats away, and end up throwing away perfectly good food. Do some research as to the shelf life of the foods you buy so you can better determine what is spoiled and what isn’t.

Save a small percentage each paycheck

This is one of those points that usually gets a lot of shit thrown at it from people who argue “If I’m broke, do you really think I’m saving anything?” Well you should be! Even if it’s five dollars per pay, over time that builds up to quite a savings. Everyone should have a small savings amount for emergencies so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay for something serious like a doctor’s or dentist’s visit. And yes, this might mean that you have to take that money away from an area like “eating out”, but that’s just called prioritizing. As a twenty-something, you should be old enough to know that sometimes you have to forgo the fun things in order to make sure the important things are taken care of.

Skip the gym

Gyms are expensive. You know what’s cheaper? Not going to the gym. There are ways to exercise without one. If you like your cardio, you can go running at a local park. If you’re more on the slower side of things, you can buy a set of weights at someplace as simple as walmart, and while it does cost something to invest in weights, it’ll be a lot cheaper than paying a monthly bill to a gym. And if you are one of those people who like the social aspect of the gym, there are ways around that too. There are plenty of apps these days that allow you to connect with others during your workout challenges. Fitocracy and Sparkpeople are just a couple of the free apps that I have used in the past. You can get motivated, add friends, and share your progress with people just like you. My favorite free forms of working out are doing yoga along with Yoga With Adrienne’s videos on youtube and going walking at my local park.

Thrift or buy used

That song doesn’t lie. It really does cost $50 for a t-shirt depending where you shop. Buying new clothes from the brandname stores can get pricey. One of my favorite stores is Torrid, and I can only afford to shop there sporadically because they are so dang expensive. What alternatives are there? You can check your local thrift stores for gently used clothes, or check sites like ebay. One of my favorite youtubers, Kiera Rose, always posts thrift-haul videos where she shows the super cute clothes she found for two or three dollars at her local thrift stores. If you travel to thrift stores where you know rich people live, you are more likely to find better clothes. I once found a real fur coat by traveling to a thrift store in the Latrobe area, where there is a small population of rich folks. Thrifting can be very time and energy consuming, so I suggest you go when you are in a shopping mood and not looking for anything specific, because you probably won’t find it. But thrifting is good for when you want some new clothes without breaking your budget.

Keep track of donations so you can claim them on your taxes

If you sort through your clothes and end up getting rid of four garbage bags worth of stuff, you can write that off on your taxes. If you get rid of furniture or baby items, you can write that off on your taxes. Of course, we’re talking pennies here, but hey, if you really want to take advantage of your government benefits, this is totally an option. The more you give away, the more you can claim. This also counts for monetary donations for charity.

Turn off electronics you are not using

Again, we are talking pennies, but I wanted to include this one because how many times have you walk out of a room without turning off the light? How many of you leave your chargers plugged into your phone or computer? Even though the cost is marginal, by being vigilant of how much electricity you are using, you can be more conservative with your bills. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Take faster showers. These are all things you can do to ensure your apartment bills are at least a few dollars cheaper. I mean, if you really want to be that nit-picky.


That’s it for this post! Do you have any suggestions for saving money? I’d love to hear from you!

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

How To Budget In Your Twenties

Money is weird.

Getting money is even weirder. And by weird, I mean oxymoronically frustrating and annoying. You want it, you need it, and yet you hate it for holding you back, keeping you from doing the things you love, or landing you with no food to eat. That’s your first problem, and mine too. I was thinking about money all wrong. The constant pressure I felt from my finances left me with a hatred towards the very thing I wanted to get more of, and it created a really confusing, negative mindset.

How many of you get sick when you think of your debt? How many of you live from paycheck to paycheck, counting everything you buy to make sure you’ll have enough to afford the necessities? Ick. That’s no way to live. In this post I am going to share with you my tips and tricks on how to get your money issues under control so you can stop worrying about the financial debt monster.

Money is weird. But you don’t have to hate it!

So where should we begin?

Step 1 | The first thing you need to do is sit down and have a long talk with yourself.

Get honest about your relationship with your finances. If you can’t admit that you have a problem, you can’t work towards improving your situation. If you know you overspend, acknowledge it! If you aren’t good with prioritizing funds, that’s ok! By realizing that something needs to change, you can begin taking the first steps to getting into a better financial position in life.

After having this pragmatic intervention with yourself, you are going to need some tools.


Collect the following:

  1. Paper
  2. Pen
  3. Colored highlighters or markers (At least 6)
  4. Your bank statement from the last three months
  5. Your cellphone
  6. A calculator
  7. A yummy beverage

Once all of the supplies are gathered, proceed to step 2


Step 2 | Tally your spending

Go through your bank statement a write down all the withdrawals made from your account within the last three months. Exclude transfers and deposits. Neither will count for this step. Only focus on money that has left your possession in exchange for goods or services. Write these all down in a neat little list with three columns. One will be for the date of the withdrawal. The second column will be for the name of the item. And the last column will be for the amount spent. I know this step can be scary, but it’s like pulling off a band aid. You just gotta do it! After you have all the things written down, add them up with a calculator and write down the total. For the example below I made up a mock spread just to give you an idea of how it should look.

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Step 3 | Tally your earnings

Next, go through your bank statement and write down all of the deposits made into your account in the last three months. This means money that came into your possession. It could be from allowance, a paycheck, odd jobs, or questionable sexual favors performed for money which is probably definitely qualified as prostitution but you don’t want to talk about it because everything is fine and you feel fine and he gave you fifty bucks to bounce on a big blue ball and you’d have to be crazy not to accept that kind of check! Ahem…no matter the source of the deposit, tally these all together and just like before, write down the total underneath or around the total from expenditures.

Step 4 | Find the difference

Maaaath! Yep, more math. Don’t worry, we’re not done with the calculator yet either. Subtract the amount of the withdrawals from step one from the amount of deposits in step two. This will let you see how much of your income you spend in a three month span. Depending on how good or bad you are with your finances, this could be a relieving number, or a terrifying number. And if you clicked this post, chances are it’s more on the terrifying end. I did this step and ended up with a negative number. It’s ok. That’s why you’re here. Take a sip of your delicious beverage. Continue to step five.

Step 5 | Categorize the expenditures

Go back to the first list you made. This is where you get to have fun with your highlighters. This is by far the best step. Go through and highlight with one color all your food expenditures. With another color highlight all your car expenditures. Another color for rent. Another for phone. Another for fun/entertainment. Another for subscriptions. You can separate this step into as many categories you want. The point is that you learn where most of your money is going. Do you spend it all on eating out with friends? Do you have too many subscriptions? More than you thought you did?! Take a sip. Continue to step six.

Step 6 | Tally each color

Add up all the pink costs and put them into a category. Then tally all the other pretty colors into separate categories. For this step I color coded the name of the category with the color I used to highlight the costs. This will really give you the big picture of where most of your money is going. For me, my biggest category was bills. Obviously. We all spend a fortune on bills. That’s inevitable. But where are your other high categories? Did you spend $1000 on eating out at restaurants within three months? Maybe that’s a bit too high for your salary range. Maybe you need to cut back on that. So after you have each color coded category totaled, add all the categories together. It should match the number from step 1. If it doesn’t, you did the math wrong. Go back and recount. If it does match, move on to step 7. As you can see below, I am bad at math, and only human. I hope your calculations look neater than mine.

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Step 7 | Cry a lot

Just kidding.

Step 7 | Designate funds

How much do you want to spend in each category? This is where the budgeting part comes into play. Make a hypothetical spending allotment for the coming month. Want to spend only $60 eating out next month? Allot it. Want to save $200? Allot it. Once money is allotted to savings it cannot be touched. It is spoken for. That money hypothetically does not exist anymore. That’s the point of savings. Likewise, if you have money in your account but know it will be used for your new car you need to buy, your next months rent, or any other big expense, it is untouchable. So just because your savings account says $5600 doesn’t mean you have $5600 of usable money. That money is spoken for. It is up to you how to divide and designate your money. For example, I have money set aside for a new car, travel, apartment spending, an emergency fund, etc.

Step 8 | Create your envelopes

The last step, and another fun one, is creating your envelopes. You can do this as a bullet journal spread or just jot it down on a piece of spare paper. Draw an envelope for every category you have a color for. Write down the name of the category along with the allotment you created in step 7. As you spend that allotment, fill in the envelope. Example:

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For example, if you want to keep your entertainment/fun spending below $100 for the month, make an envelope with ten markings on the side like a ruler. As you spend that money, fill in each row with the color you chose. When the envelope is fully colored, that means you are out of money for that category and are cut off from spending more.

You can, however, take money from one category and apply it to another. So if you ran out of money for monthly food, you can take money off your entertainment/fun envelope. To do this, simply color in the rows in the entertainment/fun envelope with the colors of the food envelope. That way you will know you spend that extra money in another category.

Also, if you have extra funds at the end of a month, you can roll that over into the next month or save it, depending on how you’re feeling. So if you have a $100 allotment for entertainment/fun and only spend $60, you can roll over the $40 to the next month so you can spend $140 total, or you can save the $40 and put it towards one of your larger payments like bills or a new car. When you have system down, transfer the final draft into your planner of choice. In the example below I have shown what the budget envelopes would look like as well as what the saving envelopes would look like as you continue to save money and fill in the envelopes.

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Budgeting is sort of like babysitting yourself. When you think about it, you have to keep your eye on yourself at all times or else you’ll end up drawing on the walls with crayons, or in this case, spending all your money on candy. A good babysitter wouldn’t allow either to happen. So this is really a lesson in discipline. It is about being intentional with every expenditure, of being aware of where your money is going and how often. If the babysitter analogy didn’t resonate with you, consider it like a boss running a business. A good boss knows what each of his employees is doing and at what time. An unsuccessful boss has no idea what is going on in his business and acts surprised when the company loses money. You have to own this shit, and reign yourself in when you know you’re running off budget.


Was this post helpful? Would you like to see more finance posts in the future? Let me know in the comments down below, and also let me know if you have any other tips and tricks for budgeting!

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medication!