For as long as I can remember, I have been very frugal with where my money goes and comes. I'm not saying that I am an all-star when it comes to saving money when broke, but I am pretty proud to say that I have learned to managed my money well... for the most part. Ever since I was little, I was basically taught to do the opposite of how my older relatives were brought up. Sometimes, materialistic things can take precedent over what you really need and then you start to realize that your only happiness arrives when you get that Amazon package in the mail.
My mother always taught me how important your credit is to your future, and how it's always a great idea to have a good amount of savings in the bank. Essentially, my mother never wanted me to go through what she went through. When I was growing up, we had a lot of hardships getting apartments and saving for a raining day; but in the end, I saw how hard my mom worked to overcome her past mistakes and I pride myself to emulate that to this day. With that being said, I strongly believe that managing your money is a key skill to have — honestly, one of the most important — and if you are able to save even the littlest bit of money, then you are doing better than before. Here are some basic tips on how to save money even when you are broke AF.
1. Document Your Expenses/Income
This is the best way to start any budget. Once you start keeping track of where and when your money is exactly leaving your wallet, you will get a better idea of where you need to start to save money. I personally have an Excel sheet that houses how much my bills costs, how much my income is, and if I was able to save anything for each month. It's a great way to visualize how your month to month will financially look and where exactly you are able to save money.
2. Eat From Home And Bring Lunch To Work
OK, I know that the Chipotle down the street is bangin', but your wallet just can't afford that $12 lunch every single day. That is $60 right there that you just lost for the week. It might not sound like a lot, but if you add that up for the year, you just spent around $2,880 on just lunch alone. You could use that to travel somewhere really awesome. According to a Bloomberg article, this is the first year ever that Americans dining out overtook grocery sales. It's a little scary to think about where exactly all this money is going. Overall, just save the money, buy your veggies, and use that money to travel instead. Or put into a savings account — whatever you want.
3. Create A Budget & Figure Out Where Your Money Is Going To
Creating a budget is a must for when you are trying to save money. It will help you understand how to live within your means and make you understand exactly where your money is going to. While everyone loves a good cup of joe, one might not realize exactly how much they are spending on coffee each week. When you create a budget, you can have all the numbers right in front of you to paint the picture of your finances much easier. Use money apps like Mint, which will help categorize exactly where your finances are going. Once you see exactly how much money you are spending in a certain area (ahem, coffee), then you can make smarter decisions on where you could save and eliminate.
4. Save In Smaller Increments
Even if you save a dollar a week, it is better than not saving at all. Seriously. It might seem impossible at first, but in the end, if you just put that money away and don't ever touch it, you will have a crap load of money saved up before you know it. There are plenty of ways to do it — some debit cards even use automatic savings by taking the remainder of your change and putting it into savings. According to a Huffington Post article that referenced personal finance blogger J.D. Roth, he stated that you should start low when it comes to savings, "Some will argue that saving [1 percent] is meaningless," Roth said. "But if a skeptic will try to save just 1 percent of his income, he'll usually discover the process is painless. Maybe next he'll try to save 3 percent. Or 5 percent. As his saving rate increases, so his nest egg will grow."
5. Eliminate Bills You Don't Really Need
After you do your budget, you will start to see exactly what type of bills you have and where you need to stop spending money. If you have a clothing store credit card that is wiping you out due to interest, try to focus on eliminating that card by paying it off. Once you do, put it away and try not to use it. By doing this, you are eliminating a bill that you no longer have to worry about. Debt is always a tricky subject, but if you slowly start to get rid of the bills you don't really need (like that magazine subscription), then you can start putting that money into savings. Before my boyfriend and I moved to New York, we were trying to figure out ways to save money. The first thing we did was to get rid of cable, and honestly, we haven't missed it since. With programs like Hulu and Netflix, we are saving a crap load of money just by viewing our favorite shows through those providers.
6. Buy Quality Items
It might sound silly, but hear me out. If you buy good quality items, they will work better and last longer. Obviously, you can figure this out through trial and error, but for the most part, good well-made materials will last longer than buying the cheap of the cheap because in the end, you might spend more today, but you will definitely save much more tomorrow. Although these items usually refer to furniture, vehicles and appliances, but it could also pertain to quality fashion or jewelry items; they will not tarnish on you or only last three loads in the washer. By doing this, you will be saving a lot more money in the long run and actually saving you time, too.
With these little tips and tricks, you will be saving money in no time. It will take a lot of patience, but trust me, you will be kicking yourself if you don't do this. Mo' money, mo problems? I don't think so.
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