Lately I've been challenged by the concept of saving. My grandmom used to always tell me, save at least half of your paycheck! It is something that always stuck in my head. But these days even doing that seems out of the question. There have been months that I've saved less than 20% of my paycheck and when I realize what I've done, I get such a depressing and sinking feeling. (Keep in mind that I am writing this post with: 3+ birthdays coming up in the next week, the holiday season is approaching, I want to buy myself new goodies on Black Friday, my car payment is due, and I
got home from J.Crew factory). It is kind of impossible to keep up with everything: the new iPhone, the next student loan payment, filling up gas in your car AAAAND having cute clothes. So do a little at a time. Patience, discipline and practicality are key.
That being said, I am no expert on finance. I have, however, tried a few things to change my usual habits when it comes to shopping and expenses. So, in my humble opinion...I'll offer up some of the not-so-new methods I've used lately.
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i also love tips from the everygirl (website photographed above, too.)
We all know that using cash as opposed to a card gives us a very different feeling at the cash register. Feeling the money slip out of your hands seems much more literal. I've been dependent on cards for far too long now. I began to stop depending on it so much when more and more big businesses kept getting cyber-"hacked" and the risk of losing all of my personal bank info. was much more likely. If that's not a wakeup call, I don't know what is! Cash is safe and harder to spend. And it will save you a ton of online-banking worries.
2. Stock up on groceries one time per week.
I love my weekly trip to Wegman's. I make a little outing of it - I get all my lunch supplies, and now and then a fun splurge item that I know I can definitely use later in the week for dinner. This week's treat: butternut squash ravioli. MMM! I also like Wegman's because you can knock out a dinner there, and while its a little pricier than other stores the selection is great and the options are healthier.
3.Cut out the take-out.
This is probably my hardest one to admit: I am a take-out food fiend. I depend on it. I am lazy. I don't cook much at all and when I do it is on the weekend when I have plenty of free time and rest. Take-out food is delicious and fattening and expensive and all it will do is drain your wallet (and plump up your waistline). Ahh, this is a hard habit to break (and I still break it all the time!) but I really do try to limit myself to take-out 1x/week**. I know if I have a stressful day/late night at work, I plan ahead and try to make that my night for ordering out. I plan ahead by sticking to plan #2 - purchasing guilt-free and semi-easy ingredients to cook at home such as soups, veggies, even sushi or gyoza as a little treat.
**As for restauranting (yes, a verb) I love trying new trendy places in the city and that little hobby makes money magically disappear. If I have plans with a friend to go to out to eat, of course I don't deny myself, but I do make sure I am disciplined and plan for the rest of the week accordingly. If possible, I stick to byobs, splitting appetizers, skipping dessert. If possible, plan for a lunch, where the same entrees are probably available and definitely cheaper. But like I said, I don't forgo my dates with friends often because I do think it is something important and "worth" the money.
4. Be selective about full-price purchases.
I have about a year of retail experience under my belt and after working that job, I vowed to myself: never buy any clothing full price. Like I said, I just got home from a J.Crew trip and I am so proud of myself because I put back EVERYTHING that was full-price and only spent $12 (on a super cute necklace, btw). There are so many ways to take advantage of sales and promotions going on in stores; one easy way is to sign up for emails (yes, annoying, but effective) announcing deals. I don't go to extreme lengths, but I also make sure I sign up for any non-credit card club membership (ie. teacher discounts or rewards systems) to get coupons in the mail. Some of my favorites that don't require any sort of credit card: American Eagle, DSW, Banana Republic.
No breakthroughs or amazing innovative ideas here, but they are helpful and have worked for me. Do you have any other tips? Do you agree or disagree with mine? I'm open to recommendations as well as suggestions! Money talk is boring, so thanks for putting up with me :)