The realization that you need to start saving money usually comes in bouts of desperation. There comes a point during the week when you realize you’ve gone to one too many happy hours, bought that $37 Killawatt highlighter (it was the last one at Sephora, come on) and also are desperately in need of some groceries. Checking your bank account then becomes something you mentally cower from. Staring at the login screen on your mobile device, oooh I can feel your eyes linger. Take two deep breaths. We know the feeling as the four figures in your biweekly paycheck dwindle, stress inevitably hinges onto every decision you make.
While it’s still somewhat in my psyche to think that you have to be making money in order to be saving money (and by that I mean making the amount of money to where saving seemingly even becomes possible) I’m finding a loophole within my own logic. Whether it’s setting $20 aside every week or logging down the amount I spend daily in my planner, saving is all relative. Saving money is not just about making money; it’s about awareness.
Here are some methods/things/tips I’m trying and why they work or don’t work:
- Force yourself to look at the evidence: What evidence? Oh this new jacket? Oh a $13 salad at sweetgreen for lunch? That evidence. It’s all the excess, confront it. How? What I’ve done in the past is I’ve saved my old receipts from my unnecessary spends and taped them to the wall above my dresser; that way, everyday when I get ready for work I cannot shy away from the evidence even if I tried. While it can be painful, it helps. By the end of the month, or better yet twice a week, add up your totals and take responsibility for your bank account. If your totals leave you feeling guilty, examine your receipts and see where you went wrong. There is a time and place for whimsical spending and it is called retirement, when you’ve married a billionaire. Cheers.
- Know your bills, monthly subscriptions included: It’s one thing to know how much rent costs, but it’s another to know where the other $200 or so goes when all of a sudden you’ve got $52 to last you another week. As someone whose parents only pay for my phone bill and health insurance (thank god I am not 26 yet), everything else, gym membership, wifi, groceries, comes out of my pocket. The expenses that always seemed to escape me were the $20 subscriptions to BOF and the New York Times, the $26 subscription to Squarespace to host my personal website and the $8 for Netflix. These are the things that add up and while they are indeed necessary, they still cost money! No freakin’ way right? Wrong. Get these expenses in order, can you hop on your family’s Netflix account, your mom’s Washington Post subscription? Do what you can, while you can. Take the money from canceled subscriptions and put it in your savings and DON’T TOUCH IT! It is not calling your name.
- Leftovers are great: Whew did this one just come out of left field? Not exactly. Living in the city, whether it’s lunch with a co-worker or meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in a month and a half for drinks – eating, drinking, going out, is not conducive to saving money. If you can’t afford to do it, don’t. And there’s no shame in that. I think a lot of the time we often feel pressured to do life big, thank social media for that one, but most times, we ain’t there yet. As Drizzy said, “started from the bottom now we here”, key words: STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM. Whether it’s a two vegetable stir fry or saving some of that Sweetgreen salad (girl, I know you still getting those) for dinner too, make the most out of your dollar and maybe even become a chef in the process.
- Remove temptation & value what YOU HAVE: If you’re like me, thrifting on the weekend or taking a stroll down Broadway to look at all the window displays after work is one of the best parts of being in New York. While there is plenty of amazingness to go around, stop looking for more of it and start appreciating what you do already have. Whether it’s finding new ways to wear what you have in your wardrobe, taking up meditation instead of spending money going to yoga class or simply planning on cost-free activities like going on a walk with a friend, find your new groove. Simplicity feels good, but only if you let it linger long enough for it to bear fruit.
- Read more about saving money: The more you engage with the topic of saving and having to save, you’re less likely to feel like the only one. And seeing that other people also really have to save makes you feel like less of a bum and more of a responsible adult. Google: how to save money, there’s an easy start.