You can never be too rich. Isn’t that how the saying goes? While not all of us are lucky enough to be raking in the big bucks, there are a few simple ways to make your money last a little longer. At first glance you may think your budget is already stretched thin but let’s take a closer look. There are almost definitely a few more pennies that can be pinched out of there.
Saving money is as fine or as broad an art form as you make it. If you’re starting at ground zero, first things first. Take stock of where your money is actually going. Look over your last month’s expenses and see where you’re spending those dollar bills. Things like rent and health insurance are non-negotiable but if you notice you spent $300 at Target last month and $400 to feed just yourself, those are the areas to cut from first.
Be Good At Saving
Sometimes people ask me “Kara, how are you so good at saving?” I throw my hair back, bat my eyes and tell them that just like the rest of this package, it’s just God-given baby. Then I saunter away, leaving them in awe.
Just kidding. I do happen to be good at saving, but it’s simply because I pay a LOT of attention to what I’m doing with my money. And what’s awesome is that’s all you need to do to!
I used to go to Target when I was bored. It’s a 3 minute drive from my house, and I justified it by buying things that I knew I would someday use. I would also spend a ridiculous amount of money on random surprises for my friends. Listen, I love my friends and believe in showing random acts of love but they simply do not need a candy bar or a funny card every time I go to the store. And I was doing that! Candy may be only $.80 for one but when you buy several over the course of a week or month, all of a sudden it’s $10 gone. More importantly, $10 over the course of a year turns into $120. That’s a nice little chunk of change.
Here’s a nice way to start. Challenge yourself to not spend money for one day. Think you can’t do it? I did that very thing yesterday. Here’s how it went:
I woke up and made breakfast at home (oatmeal and black coffee). Then I walked to work. I walked home from work and made myself lunch (salmon and mashed potato leftovers) and worked from home. That afternoon I drove to UT Austin, where I saw a free lecture by Harry Allen, former “hype man” for Public Enemy in the 80’s. He gave a great speech about how Public Enemy formed and talked about Hip-Hop today.
Afterwards, I showered at home, made myself dinner (pasta with broccoli and a cup of hot chocolate), then drove to a free event at a bar downtown. I saw the publisher of a local newspaper talk about why local politics are important and ways for citizens to get involved. I drove home and chatted with my roommates before I went to be around 11:30. It was a great day and the best part was that it cost me exactly zero dollars!
No more trips to Target when I’m bored. No more mindless purchases. I have saved literally thousands in the past couple of months! My goal is to pay off my student loans this year. What’s yours? If you have success with a no-spend day, try a no-spend week! Being aware of where your money is going is the only way to save yourself some more of it.