“Treat yo-self,” they say, “you deserve a night of fun”, “live your best life sis”, they chant as your swiping credit cards, maxing out accounts and getting buried in debt. You never really think about how much money your spending on trivial items until the next bank statement appears but by then its too late. You’ve spent the majority of your funds and the next paycheck is two weeks away. What will you do until then?
Prior to me acquiring knowledge of how money works, I too was an abuser of the term “treat yo-self”. Buying handbags, online shopping, hair accessories, you name it, I would find a reason to make a purchase. Later, the frustration of not having enough capital to get me through the week would drive me into a wall of complete craziness. I knew then that I had to make a change in the financial department not only for my pockets but to have a peace of mind on top of a security blanket that I could rely on.
If the previous lines of this post are making you anxious, don’t worry, you can easily make changes to your expenses while still indulging in the pleasantries of life by following some simple tricks that will have your savings account flourishing.
Find a financial plan that works for you and stick to it
Paying bills can be a hassle, especially when you have little to start with. Before you go pulling your hair out at the thought of making payments all at once, first get comfortable with the idea of creating a financial plan that works for you.
When budgeting, you have the ability to sit down and dissect your assets and liabilities when looking at your bank statements, retail receipts, and automatic payments. The key in this step is, to be honest about the monthly income that you are bringing in and how much you are spending on a monthly basis.
To start, try taking a look at your pay stubs. If you are unfamiliar with the terms used to describe what is on a pay stub, here is a guide that will help. From there, pull up a copy of your bank statement that can be found via mobile banking options or by mail. Contact your financial institutions and enroll in monthly copies for your review.
After analyzing your income, circle all of the unnecessary items that are been deducted. For example, if you notice that you spend $30-$40 a month on coffee, you may want to cut back and opt into the idea of making a caffeinated drink at home to save some extra money. Continue on with this step until you’ve made right decisions based on your lifestyle.
Learn how to eat well on a budget
I like going out to eat just like the next person, but what I don’t like is spending $150-$200 a month on meals that I can make at home for half the price. Of course, eating out has its perks, but with perks comes expenses that you may not be able to afford.
When dining on a budget, you want to be smart in the choices you are making. Don’t get in the habit of pigging out and forget about your financial plan. Use the 2 for $20 options that many restaurants offer or feast out on appetizers and a drink.
If self-control is an issue, try giving yourself a monthly cap on how much you spend on outside food. For me, I restrict myself from spending no more than $50 a month on going out to eat, sometimes it’s more depending on the types of purchases I’ve made during a given time frame. Food shopping is also an expense that should be analyzed. Choosing local farmers markets and generic grocery stores over corporate grocery retail chains can save you tons of money over time.
Inform your friends about new lifestyle change
Some nights you will just have to stay in. Priorities should always come first and if your 25+ it’s time to boss up and wear your responsibilities proudly. Debt piling up? Start putting some money down to pay things off, credit score dropping? Inquire about the steps needed to turn things around. Friends keep inviting you out? Say no.
Adulting can be hard, and it’s even more difficult when the people around you can’t give you the proper support you need to get things right. Stop flexing for the gram and get your finances in order. Your older self will thank you for it in the future.
Traveling is my passion and there are so many hidden gems all around us. Every vacation doesn’t have to be an expense. Stay local and take weekend getaways for less. The U.S is home to a wide range of vacation spots that offer plenty of things to do at reasonable prices if you take the time to seek them out.
Borden your horizons and see where your next adventure takes you. Unsure of where to go? Here are a few ideas that will make the planning process easy!
Work hard for the lifestyle you want
I am pleased to announce that I have humbled myself in ways that have truly shaped me into the woman that I am today. And it feels good to know that I’ve worked hard for everything that I have. Granted, I still have a lot to learn, but thus far things are looking up for me and my wallet.
A little piece of advice, if your budget is not providing the lifestyle you want, consider projects that showcase your talents. Everyone is not built to be an entrepreneur, but there are ventures out there that will help you generate multiple sources of income.
Have a degree that you haven’t put to use? Utilize what you’ve learned to create income that can fuel your standard of living. Now don’t expect success to happen overnight. Good things take time, but while you wait, continue to do what you love while working hard to fix your financial setbacks.