Updated: Aug 27, 2018
You're swimming in student loan debt, making payments on a hefty car note, and struggling with credit card payments all while working your butt off for less money than you deserve, but still you can confidently say that you are managing your money the best way you can. I get it! Truly, I understand. How in the world can you even begin to think about saving money when you have ample student load debt payments (and other debt) while also trying to have some sort of social life, and, of course, travel for fun because you deserve it since you work so hard. Like I said, I get it; really I do. One of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to money management is our own behavior. So, I've come up with just a few suggestions to help. In the long run, there may be some drastic changes that are necessary for you to get where I know you want to be, however, here are some tips that may help get you started:
1. Order water plain and simple; when you go out to restaurants, whether it be a sit down or a fast food spot, order the FREE water. I know, it's nice to go out and order what you want and not worry about it, but it's all fun until the bill comes. Instead, enjoy a nice beverage of your choice before you go out or when you get home. It's much easier on the pockets and it will probably taste better as you can make it exactly how you like it.
2. Plan ahead. This applies to everything, but most notably, meals and vacations. It's expensive and often unhealthy to buy lunch every day. Instead, plan to buy lunch only once or twice a week, or only on the weekends when you go out with friends. Try meal prepping to prepare your meals for the week in just one day if you are tight on time. If you ever get stuck, PBJ is always a great backup.
And when it comes to vacations, I know, you work hard and want to enjoy the fruits of your labor and I agree that you should be able to do just that. BUT (you knew it was coming) vacations should be planned in advance. Often times they are planned on a whim which puts unnecessary stress on your budget or increases the balance on your credit cards. Instead, try planning several months in advance to alleviate these stresses. Determine how much you would like to spend on the flight, accommodations, food and other spending monies and divide that total costs by the number of months you have until your trip. This should give you the amount you need to save per month for your trip. If the figure looks impossible, chances are you probably shouldn't go, or at least not until a later date so that you have more time to save.
3. YES! you need to have a budget. And it needs to be a written budget. A budget helps you to be accountable to yourself on where and how you spend your money. It's a learning process but a crucial part of money management. Notably, it can also help you determine if you are spending more than you earn (hence why that credit card balance never sees to go down despite your monthly payments). If you need a spreadsheet to get started, email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to send you one, no strings attached.
4. Are those shoes really that important? Yes! Of course they are! But perhaps you can wait until they go on sale instead. Solicit the help of Honey (www.joinhoney.com--- and no, unfortunately, we are not affiliated in any way) to help you track price changes and determine if you have found the best price available out there (on the web). Better yet, this company claims to help you automatically apply the best coupon code available at check out. It's nice to have new things, especially new shoes, but they look even better on sale. :)
5. Cut up the credit cards. Seriously, use the scissors (not the shredder) and cut it up into tiny pieces. Take a picture of the pieces (make sure the numbers are no more) or put the pieces in a mason jar and keep in on your dresser or in your drawer as a reminder of the brave day you said "no more" to credit cards. Not that credit cards are bad, but sometimes, we just have to break free of them.
6. Take advantage of special offers. Clip the coupons, download the apps for the special introductory offers and reward programs where you eventually get free or discounted items, but be careful not to get carried away. Remember, you want to take advantage of these offers, that means you must still be wise while using them. Which brings me to my next point...
7. Say no to Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts...at least sometimes. It's probably not a good idea to buy coffee and/or breakfast every morning. Sure, a cup of coffee is only $3 (on average) but buying this every morning means that you are spending $90 a month, $1,080 a year, and $5,400 in five years, and $16,200 in 15 years. Instead, try limiting the number of times you buy coffee to 2-3 times a week at the most, and instead try the coffee at work, or french press at home. And yes, be sure to download the Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks app when you do visit to accumulate stars/points towards free beverages. But beware of the special promotions that may rope you into purchasing beverages every day as an incentive to earn more start/points. A good rule of thumb is to limit your morning food/beverage spending to no more than $8 a week
8. The solution is not always that you need to make more money. Get that out of your head. It would be nice to make more money but the saying "more money, more problems" may be true if you do not know how to manage it. It all starts with being able to manage what you have by living on less than you earn (avoiding the paycheck to paycheck situation), avoiding high interest debt (those wonderful credit cards) and paying yourself first (saving a portion of your check before you pay your bills or do anything else, besides tithing, of course).
Do you think you could start implementing some of these ideas today? Sure you can! There just may be some hard decisions that need to be made. :) And if you need help, feel unmotivated or stuck, HoneyVest is always here to help.