I have big plans in store for the near future. One of them is moving out of parents’ house sooner than I initially estimated. I’ve always been envious of my friends and peers who have good/normal relationships with their family and culture. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I don’t know how much longer I can live in a household where I’m given such strict limitations at the age of 22. Thus, I’ve decided to cut back significantly on my spending and start saving up for this endeavor. Apartments in New York aren’t cheap, you know.
To be honest, it can feel like a whole lifestyle change to start budgeting if you’ve never done it before – especially when you’re an online shopping addict like me. I can’t say I’m proud of it, but I can admit that the thrill of sales and the anticipation of waiting for your packages to arrive in the mail is probably why it took me so long to realize I have a problem. So I’ve created a handy-dandy list for those of you in a similar boat! :)
1) Create a monthly budget. This should be common sense. Microsoft Excel can be an invaluable tool but if you prefer to swing it old school with pen and paper, be my guest. There are many different ways to do this, but the bottom line is that you should be spending less money than you’re earning. This might sound easy, but believe me it’s not. When you start calculating the small instances you spend here and there, it really does add up. Set up goals for yourself. Allot a certain amount of money to only be spent on x, y, and z. Set restrictions on your spending. You will thank yourself in the future.
2) Unsubscribe from all your online store newsletters. Believe me, it will tame the temptation to spend spontaneously. It’s a trap. They lure you in by offering you a discount on your first purchase, then keep you hooked by spamming you several times a week with “new”, “amazing”, and “once-in-a-lifetime” deals. Yes, there may be a sale. But ask yourself first: “Do I really need it?” The thing about online shopping is how convenient it is. I’ve done more shopping on my iPhone during my lunch break at work than I care to admit. These e-mails just trigger the urge to take advantage of these deals asap. :X
3) Limit how often you eat and drink out. On special occasions or when you’re especially feeling peckish, why not? But if you’re going to a restaurant multiple times a week and hitting a bar every weekend, you have no right to say you’re “broke”. Instead, try packing your own lunch for work. Or learn how to cook that new recipe you saw on The Food Network! Additionally, why spend $9 on a single drink in the city, when you can get a 6-pack of good beer for the same price and have a casual night in with your friends? Better yet, buy a bottle of liquor and make your own perfect cocktails. ;)
4) Open separate savings accounts. When most people see one lump sum in their checking account, they instinctively feel like they can afford to splurge on things that they may not necessarily need. Maybe they even feel like they deserve to spoil themselves a bit for working so hard. It’s acceptable to do this once in a while but if you find yourself thinking this every time you look at your bank account balance, there’s a problem. If you open a separate savings account for every “big” thing you’re planning to purchase in the future and allocate a portion of each paycheck into them, you’re less likely to dip into those funds for the sake of immediate gratification. In my case, I have a separate savings account strictly for the accumulation of funds that will one day go towards my graduate school education.
5) Give up your unhealthy vices. Recently, I convinced le boyfriend to quit smoking and give the blu electronic cigarette a try. And it worked! He’s been a pack-a-day smoker since the age of thirteen, and was able to quit immediately with few withdrawal symptoms. A good idea, since a pack of cigarettes costs about $11 here. From this alone, he’s saving almost $3,000 every year! Now apply this to your own life – what can you give up that you know is bad for you? Maybe it’s finally time to kick the habit.