It can be hard to save money right now – wage growth is slow, everyday expenses are greater than they used to be and for many people, saving up for a housing deposit is a distant pipe dream.
A lot of people think that saving money for the big purchases in life like a home or car means living like a hermit and never seeing your friends, but this is far from the truth.
You can still save money and be financially responsible and fun to be around – it’s all about finding the right balance.
Here are five ways you can do just that without being boring.
1. Conduct a financial health check
How often do you check your bank account? It’s likely that you’re flushing hundreds of dollars every year down the proverbial toilet on regular expenses you don’t need. For example, I recently found out I’d been paying $12 a month for a magazine subscription that was still being delivered to my old house.
Go into your online banking portal and grab a list of your direct debits and credits over the last six months, and cancel all the ones that don’t bring you any value. This leads us to our next point.
2. Passively save for the important things
If you want to save, you don’t have to make a 1,000-row spreadsheet where you log every expense, or be so frugal that you recycle toilet paper.
We’re not saying you don’t need to cut out expensive habits – you could definitely do without buying coffee every day, and bringing lunch into work helps too – but you can easily save by creating separate bank accounts for big expenses. For example, send 20% or more of your paycheck to your regular savings account, 10% or more to an emergency savings fund for when you have to go to the dentist, and 20% or so to a ‘fun’ account, which you can use for things like the latest video game or beers with your friends.
Setting up automatic payments to dedicated savings accounts will save you money without even realizing it, leaving the rest for the crucial stuff like rent and utility bills.
3. Ditch the plastic
If you’re struggling to save money but still have a credit card, why? That’s like a problem gambler having a bookmaker on speed-dial. The average American household has about $5,700 in credit card debt, and repaying this debt can take up a large chunk of your budget when you take interest into account. Cut the thing up and bury the pieces, and prioritize paying off this debt if you can.
Use your bank debit card for everyday purchases instead. They work just as well as credit cards but it’s your own money you’re spending, not the bank’s.
4. Stop buying foolish stuff
‘Foolish stuff’ doesn’t include things that bring you joy: if you like movies or gaming, for example, then, by all means, buy a new computer or surround-sound system. But with online shopping possible from just about every store, it’s very easy to add a ridiculous purchase to your cart that you’ll only ever use once, if ever.
Just think twice about buying a set of NERF guns for $100+. They might seem cool (they definitely are), but will they be of any use to you besides being a novelty?
5. Visit your parents
If this is possible, then the folks can be an excellent rort for free meals and second-hand stuff they don’t need anymore. You can use this as leverage for coming home to visit them too. A good meal on a Sunday with some leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch could save you a fair bit over time.
And if you can’t visit your parents, then befriend your elderly neighbor. They’ll appreciate your company, and it’s a scientific fact that old ladies cook better than anyone else.
Following these five tips can help you become a financially responsible adult who doesn’t need to worry about whether they’ll be able to afford the next round with your friends. Just enjoy yourself and allocate savings towards important things.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.