Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is the founder of the Fiscal Femme and the creator and author of The 30-Day Money Cleanse, a book packed with tools to help you feel more on top of your finances in just one month. If managing your money is a goal of yours going into 2019, here are her five tips to help you save $1,000 — in January alone.
At age 25, I was a Wharton graduate with a promising career in investment banking. To some it seemed I was doing everything right, but to me, it felt like just the opposite. I was working really long hours in a job I didn’t enjoy, and as a result, everything else felt off track, too. After some soul-searching, I decided to leave my job for another finance position.
Although I was happier in my new position, I took a pay cut and was bleeding through my savings. I had to get a hold of my finances, yet despite my background, I knew nothing about my own money. As a result, I was making mistakes in just about every area of my financial life — so I set out to find answers and get my financial life on track. Most of the resources available were dense, boring, and catered to older, white men. I wanted to change that. I started a blog to share what I was learning, and then others started reaching out asking for help. The Fiscal Femme was born.
My story is not unique, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Regardless of what those first steps are, making small, deliberate changes will yield impactful results. And, saving money doesn't have to feel like a long, arduous process.
There’s no better way to kick off 2019 than with a nice juicy savings goal. If you are like most of us, living paycheck to paycheck, saving $1,000 may sound pretty out of reach. But, just like with any big goal, breaking it down into smaller steps makes it much more manageable and doable. Here’s how to save $1,000 in January.
Find Your Motivation
For most of us, stacks of cash aren’t that motivating — it’s what we are going to use that cash for that gets us excited. For some, that might mean a feeling like freedom or peace of mind. For others, savings might mean finally taking a vacation, building up a rainy day fund, or starting to invest so your money works for you. Before you start saving, it’s important to get clear on your motivation. What gets you excited to have an extra $1,000?
Create The Space
Next, create the space for all of this new money to go. I’m a big fan of online savings accounts. When choosing an online savings account, all that matters is that it’s free, you earn some interest (~2 percent), it’s a FDIC member, and it’s easy to use. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes choosing.
You can also give the account a fun nickname that reminds you of your motivation. It can be as simple as “savings” or “peace of mind fund,” or as specific as “F-U fund” or “vacation fund.”
Map It Out
Then, map out what $1,000 of savings looks like over the course of January so you don’t leave it to chance. A thousand dollars over 31 days is $32.25 per day, and $1,000 over four weeks is $250 per week. What are some things you can do to decrease expenses or increase income by $32.25 per day or $250 per week in January?
To help, take a look at last month’s bank and credit card statements. Are there any expenses you can easily let go of in January? You might decide to drink coffee at work and save $5 per day ($155 per month), bring your own lunch to save $8 per day ($248 per month), or have your friends over for wine and snacks rather than go out for a savings of $75. Get creative and find win-wins where you don’t have to give up too much fun for savings.
Make It A Game And Keep A Tally
Each time you decide not to spend money on something or earn money, keep a savings tally. You can keep a list or even create a more fun and creative visual that tracks your progress as you get closer to $1,000. Keep this on your desk or even carry it with you. You want to be able to reference this and update it often.
As you add to your tally, don’t forget to transfer the savings over to your online savings fund. I’m a fan of transferring money over often, regardless of how small the amount. You can do this daily, every few days, or weekly, but make sure to get the money out of your checking account and into your online savings so it’s yours to keep.
Get A Money Buddy
Everything's more fun with friends. Just like having a gym buddy helps us get to the gym more often and have more fun while working out, enrolling a money buddy has the same effect. Who can you invite to save $1,000 with you this month? You can brainstorm ideas together and text each other to celebrate each time you save, or as you reach bigger milestones (i.e. $250, $500, etc.) along the way.
Personal finance can be daunting, and sometimes it seems easier to ignore our financial lives rather than face the music. The truth is, even small changes can make a huge difference for our overall financial well-being. Make some small changes in your life to save $1,000 this month.
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