If looking at your bank statements requires a box of tissue and/or a bottle of vodka, “How can I save more money?” is probably a question you've asked yourself a time or 20. Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution... because chances are you won’t win the lottery (#toughlove). However, relatively painless adjustments to your approach to spending and saving can make a world of difference.
In Brokenomics: 50 Ways to Live the Dream on a Dime , author Dina Gachman draws on experiences that have been at times “mortifying, humiliating, demoralizing, and ridiculous” — yet always educational — to share money-saving tips, tricks, and philosophies that you can actually use as a twentysomething. She walks us through the pros and cons of everything from cutting rent costs by taking in pie-stealing, plate-hoarding Craigslist roommates to battling your student loan lender’s customer service reps. (See? She gets you.) Gachman’s approach to personal finance isn't always glamorous, but then again, neither is bankruptcy.
Brokenomics gives a realistic and comical look at the struggles young adults face as they become financially independent and learn lessons about wasting, making, and saving money. For those looking to bolster their bank accounts, here are 10 ways to save more money from Brokenomics you'll actually use. You can thank Dina when you're rolling in the dough... or at least being able to pay your rent without sacrificing a meal.
Accept That You Can’t Have Everything
In the tradition of mothers knowing best, Gachman's told her that “there will always be someone richer, taller, smarter, and better looking than you.” Like global warming, it’s an inconvenient truth. You will inevitably covet things that you can’t have, so you have to learn to be OK with that, as much as it sucks. Gachman suggests laughing it off. For all you know, the object of your jealousy had to sell a kidney to afford that necklace/car/house you’re drooling over.
Calculate Long-Term Costs
Even small expenses can get out of control when they become a regular occurrence. Gachman points out that a $5 latte a day would come out to $18,250 over 10 years. (Did you just retch, too?) Thinking of it in those terms, the idea of an IRA may start to sound a lot more appealing than a caffeine habit and ingesting nearly $20,000.
Save and Splurge Responsibly
A major tenet of Brokenomics is “Know when to save and when to splurge." Don’t deny yourself everything, but you shouldn't grant yourself everything, either. Being good with money requires recognizing the value of moderation.
Want to go to grad school? Unsure if you should pay for health insurance? These are your decisions to make, but Gachman highlights the importance of considering the possible ramifications. For example, you should take into account whether your future job prospects will allow you to pay back your student loans and how expensive hospital bills would be if you got in an accident while uninsured.
Examine Why You’re Making a Decision
If you’re going to make a big investment, make sure your reasoning is sound. If you do opt to go to grad school, it shouldn't be because you feel like you have to; it should be because you expect to grow academically, personally, and professionally. Likewise, Gachman would recommend considering a potted plant instead of having kids if you’re doing it just because it seems like it’s “time.”
Find Areas Where You’re Willing to Sacrifice to Cut Costs
Gachman had a friend who spent five years living out of his Honda to save for a house. It worked for him; he ended up buying three. However, if you like having a bathroom (and no one would blame you), this obviously isn’t for you. Instead, figure out what you can go without to get what you want.
Take Credit Seriously
With great buying power comes great responsibility! “There is no such thing as ‘just’ using a credit card,” writes Gachman. Debt can add up quickly, especially when interest gets tacked on. If you need a reality check, she recommends withdrawing money and paying in cash.
Take Advantage of Friends (Without Taking Advantage of Them)
Your loved ones may be able to aid you in your money-saving mission. To save for a trip to Europe, Gachman lived on her friends’ couch, paid them a small amount of rent, and plied them with home-cooked dinners. Friends can also be great to share and swap clothes with to limit your wardrobe budget.
Learn How to Do Things Yourself
A little know-how can go a long way. Gachman recommends more DIY in your life as a way to slash expenses. Instead of paying someone to hem your pants or whip up a fresh juice, invest your own time and get it done for a fraction of the cost.
Pad Your Bank Account for Emergencies
Expect the unexpected. Start a rainy day fund, or what Gachman so aptly calls an “I Didn't See This Sh*t Coming Fund.” When sh*t happens, you’ll be ready for it. Saving more money may require you to reevaluate and readjust your spending habits and your approach to finances. It’s not always easy, but think of it this way: Why be like this...
...when you can be like this?