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If I had my way, I would just forget this crazy budgeting thing and spend all my money. I would look stylish in my new clothes, my hair would be amazing and my new lipstick fantastic, and I would spend all weekend eating at the hottest new restaurants. However, this is not the reality that I live in. I must restrain myself for the sake of being able to pay my mortgage and bills, and not, you know, ruin my marriage. I’ve written about how our relative laziness cost us several unplanned thousands of dollars on one holiday, but thankfully, we’ve gotten a lot better at saving money — with minimal effort.
If you, like me, love to spend your money rather than save it, these are some of the fool-proof ways I’ve learned to save.
1. Purge Your Social Media
I get it. Your favorite clothing store has a rocking Insta. You love seeing the newest releases and being alerted to the sales. But the only thing that swoon-worthy fashion is doing is planting a seed in your mind about how maybe you should just go and buy that top you’re obsessed with. Purge. Unfollow all those tempting accounts, and see how quickly you stop dropping $100 on the latest must-have outfit. Whilst you are there, follow some money-smart accounts to give you daily inspiration.
Whilst you’re at it, unsubscribe from all those sales alerts. I know you don’t want to. How else will you know about that fantastic sale? But that’s the whole point. You aren’t meant to be spending! And whilst I, too, know how to “rationalize” (one top worth $100 was 50% off, so I just SAVED myself $50), it isn’t going to fly here. There are even apps out there, like UnRoll, that allow you to quickly unsubscribe from all those tempting alerts.
3. Cut the Takeout and Restaurants
Now, I am not a monster. I am not going to say never order takeout or go out to eat. But if you’ve got time on a Sunday, why not plan your lunches for the week? If everything is ready to grab-and-go, you might just avoid temptation. Or, make a big lasagna or casserole, and freeze the leftovers to eat next time you are too tired to cook to avoid being tempted to order Thai takeaway.
4. Join Your Library
I love to read. I read an average of a book a week, and, not going to lie, it gets expensive when the average book costs $20. And I never manage to find the time to physically go into the library. Plus, I have an intense dislike of the smell of library books. Anyone else? No? Just me then?
But if you are wondering, “Is there an app for that?” Yes, yes there is! My library has an extensive digital collection available on the app Overdrive. It even has the latest magazines — everything from gossip and cooking to home décor and computers. So now, when I finish reading a book at midnight and I cannot sleep, I just log into the app and download one of the ones from my wishlist.
5. Move Your Money
The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” rings true. Set up automated savings so that when you get paid, your savings are automated. Leave behind what you need for your bills and a bit of spending money. The rest should be squirreled away.
6. Hide the Credit Card
I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a tight budget, I sometimes get a bit “spend-itchy.” You know that feeling where you convince yourself that you’ve been sooooo good lately that you really can treat yourself “just this once”? I am so guilty of that.
To stop myself always reaching for my credit card, I simply hide it away out of sight. Sounds silly, but when I open my wallet and see only see my debit card, somehow it sinks it that I am spending real money as opposed to putting it on the “never, never.” Even better: leave it at home!
7. Watch the Cocktails
Let’s face it, Fridays are better with a cocktail or two. But don’t get caught slapping down your credit card and starting a bar tab. Before you head out, determine your spending limit, and withdraw that amount in cash. It keeps tipsy-you from shouting “Another!”
8. Utilize Change Jars
We’ve got jars strategically placed around the house to collect all our change. Every few months we go and cash them in at the bank on the understanding that whatever we make we can spend. So, whether it is $60 or $117 (happy hour vs. bring on the cocktails), we get to have a good night out.
9. Budget in “Blow” Money
This budgeting stuff is no fun — particularly if you don’t allow yourself the budget for treats and living your life. Allow yourself a set amount each pay check for the things that make you happy. I am not talking about money for socializing, or the gym. I am talking about money you can blow on whatever you want. Clothes, Sephora, a trip to the day spa — whatever your poison, budget it in. If you know you have $150 a month to spend on whatever you want, you won’t feel guilty about doing it, and you won’t feel deprived of joy.
And I am going to leave you with one last tip: If you like your morning coffee, treat yourself to that coffee. These lists always suggest cutting out coffee or making your own, and it always grates on me, as it is one of my few indulgences. So yes, I know that cutting it out could save me roughly $1,300 per year. But also, remember, a girl has got to live. Don’t cut what makes you happy.