One of my goals for the New Year is to spend less and save more. With graduation on the horizon (ahh) and the real world approaching, I’ve been feeling like there’s no better time to encourage healthy money habits.
Even if your goals don’t directly center around finances, money most likely impacts all of the goals you hope to accomplish this year and beyond. If you’re looking to boost your blog or business, you may want to allocate funds towards books, courses or materials. If you want to travel more, you’ll definitely want to have money set aside and saved. And if you’ve taken the traditional que and opted to focus on health and fitness, you’re probably in the market for workout clothes and a healthier (read: more expensive) grocery list.
No matter what, having extra cash set aside is never a bad thing!
In the past few months, I’ve made a few changes to correct my own spending and saving (or lack thereof) habits.
1. Know Your Habits
I know myself and my habits pretty well. I know that in the morning I want coffee, that it won’t take long for me to get hungry and once the hunger hits, I’m no good until I eat. My hanger (hunger + anger) induced lack of focus then justifies a trip to grab coffee and breakfast, which all together isn’t crazy expensive…unless you do it five days per week.
To remedy this, before bed I set a timer on my coffee pot so it’s ready when I wake up. There’s always a travel mug at the ready so I can have one cup before I leave the house and take another jolt on the go. I also keep easy breakfast items on hand for the mornings when I don’t have time to make a full meal. Granola bars, yogurt, PB&J and instant oatmeal are all staples in my kitchen.
I also keep snacks in my bag whenever possible, and have a water bottle ready –even when grabbing food out (you’d be surprised how much you save just by opting out of a drink).
2. Avoid Temptation Whenever Possible
Do you have your debit or credit card number memorized? If yes, it’s time to get a new card! I’ve never been this extreme, but I know that the easier it is for me to spend, the more likely I am to do it. If you’re going out to buy something specific, take cash out and leave your cards at home. I’ve managed to talk myself out of many online purchases just because getting up from my bed or desk to walk to grab my card was too much of a hassle.
Make it as hard on yourself as possible so that you only spend when it’s necessary.
3. Check Your Surroundings
I’m in my last semester of college, and most of my friends are students, too. But others aren’t, which means we’re in two totally different places –physically and financially. Don’t outspend yourself because you’re trying to keep up with friends.
If you know your one friend always tries to pressure you into a pricy food place or treats shopping like cardio, invite another frugal friend to balance you out of decline until you’re ready to treat yourself.
4. Allocate for Everything
Budgeting is not my strong suit, but it’s a definite necessity if you’re trying to save. In it’s simplest form, a budget is just an outline that allocates certain funds to certain things. I have an amount set to spend on bills, groceries, personal items, clothes, ect.
Examine the things that you need and want to determine where you can avoid to spend less and what definitely can’t be negotiated. Do you need to buy Starbucks brand coffee or will the coffee for half the price work as well?
5. Be working towards something
Saving money for saving’s sake won’t get you too far (probably only as far as the next good sale). If you’re working towards something, you can focus more on the reward than on the sacrifice at hand.
What are some big purchases you hope to be able to make soon? For me, I always dream of my post grad apartment, especially the work space I hope to create. Spending $15 ordering food now sets me back $15 from my dream space, so I skip it.
Balance is key, as with everything. Remember it’s still nice to treat yourself…to the latte, the cute planner or a new nail polish. Once you’re in the habit of spending less, you’ll become a smarter shopper, too. I treated myself to a new planner, but only because it was %50 off!
Little wins mean big savings.
image source: the every girl