Money

13 Women On The 1 Budgeting Hack That Saved Them Money

Small tweaks to help you save big.

ZHPH Production, Stocksy
By Maridel Reyes

Over six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus' economic fallout seems to be more devastating for women. Of the more than 700,000 jobs eliminated in the first wave of pandemic-related layoffs in March, the Labor Department reports that nearly 60% were held by women. According to a recent analysis by the consulting firm McKinsey, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs.

What’s more, women are leaving the workforce at a greater rate than men due to lack of childcare, Sallie Krawcheck, founder of Ellevest, tells Bustle. And women who work from home are losing productivity because of crushing family obligations.

Whether you've been laid off or furloughed, have reduced income, or are worried about your job's stability right now due to the pandemic, experts suggest building an emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. “We strongly suggest you reevaluate your spending,” Priya Malani, founder of Stash Wealth. “Find ways to free up cash so that it can be put towards saving for the future.”

If you’re looking for budgeting inspiration right now, here’s how 13 women made small tweaks — and ended up saving big.

Make Your Bank Come To You

“Is there anything worse than checking a banking app? After noticing that task always fell to the bottom of my to-do list, I finally realized: what if I made that necessary financial info simply come to me instead? So, I set up text alerts through my bank. Now I get a message anytime I receive a direct deposit and a weekly text showing my account balance. This makes me feel more in control and on top of what's coming in and going out.” -Kara, 34

Forbear Your Student Loans

“Cancel student debt! I’ve been able to save thousands since they put a hold on collecting monthly payments.” -Cathy, 37

Search Facebook For Freebies

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“I joined my local “buy nothing” Facebook group. Whenever I’m thinking of buying something, I post there first — and often, I can get it for free. It's also great for clearing out stuff you aren't using, without having to feel guilty about putting it in the trash.” -Nicole, 36

Give Every Dollar A “Job”

“The app YNAB [You Need a Budget] has been beneficial for me. It’s a budgeting program that assigns every dollar a job. Basically, every dollar is assigned to a job or a category even before it is spent. So, if you have a $2,000 check, you might assign $1,200 to your rent, $200 for utilities, $300 for groceries, and $300 for shopping or entertainment. It’s almost fun, like a Tetris game. It requires you to be forward-looking and intentional about every dollar. It requires you to be aware, but in return, you'll be in total control of your finances.” -Diana, 30

Procrastinate Your Wishlist

“Create a list of things you want to buy. And then put it aside and buy it later. Nine out of 10 times, you’re over it.” -Li, 37

Reverse-Engineer Vacations

"I plan most of my vacations not by figuring out where I want to go and then trying to save money, as most people do. Instead, I look to see where it's cheap to travel during the time I have available. For example, last year, we wanted to get away for Thanksgiving — a notoriously expensive time to travel. But by searching by price for hotel, activities, and plane tickets — back when we could safely fly — I found that my family of four could get away to Las Vegas for dirt cheap. Since the trip cost less than what I'd budgeted, I used the extra to book a photoshoot of my family to both record our fun vacation and use in our holiday cards.” -Catherine, 36

Set Aside All Your Side Hustle Earnings

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“I have a side business of sourcing and selling vintage art and furniture pieces. I use Venmo a lot and end up accruing a balance that gets super high by the end of the month. I don’t touch it and try to forget that money even exists. I withdraw it once a month, and as soon as it hits my account, I put [it] into my savings. So essentially, I’m making all of this money on the side, but making sure I don’t use it at all to keep it saved." -Julie, 28

Shop Secondhand

“Ninety percent of my clothes I got in the last couple of years are secondhand, including all my maternity clothes. Nearly all of my son’s clothes are secondhand, except for a few gifts. I do most of my shopping on Mercari.” -Morgan, 36

Make It Harder To Buy Things

“Don’t carry a credit card. And don’t have your credit card info saved in your browser’s autofill.” -Megan, 40

Track Everything

“I keep a small spreadsheet to track my spending. It is really informative and helps me stay on budget! It turns out I love expensive drinks and strange delicacies at grocery stores. And now I can give more to charity!” -Mae, 33

Give Yourself An Allowance

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“Pay cash for miscellaneous spending: Coffee, clothes, beauty, eating, and drinking. When I was going through a rough patch a few years back, I found the act of withdrawing the cash on Friday and knowing it had to last the week made me much more intentional about spending. To actually touch the money and count out the bills instead of just swiping made a big difference. I once found some amazing stuff at a vintage store on a Saturday. But then I had to make dinner at home all week and not go out and bring my lunch, and it was a great learning experience.” -Kristin, 40

Reconsider “Deals”

“Don't spend money to save money. All those ‘free shipping for orders over X,’ ‘buy two get the third free,’ ‘bundle these products and save X’-type deals are literally everywhere and really add up!” -Krista, 33

Switch To Online Grocery Shopping

“We swapped our weekly grocery trips for online ordering during the lockdown. Sticking with the grocery list is easier, and it's less tempting to place miscellaneous snacks and items in a virtual cart.” -Bari, 34