Money, Now + Beyond

5 surprising ways to save a little money so you can do the things you really want

Because there are ways to treat both yourself and your bank account well.

How many times have you been in the position of saying, “I do not have the money to do that?”

When I say “that,” I am referring to all of the things you would like to do, such as take that trip you have held off for years, or finally take the risk and start up your own business. While the internet keeps telling us that millennials are broker than their parents and face soaring housing prices and university tuitions, saving money is not impossible.

More importantly, you would be surprised by how much you can do on less. Here’s how.

1.  Purge your house of the things you do not need

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[Image Description: A gif of many extra things falling from a closet and on top of two men.] Via giphy
You may not want to get rid of anything, but that is not the point. The point is to go through every possession you own and assess how much you are using it on a daily basis. Perhaps it can be transformed into something new. Start with your closet. What are you actually wearing?

And, being honest with yourself, what have you barely touched in years?

While you may tell yourself that perhaps keeping everything you currently have saves you a ton of money, purging helps you organize yourself. It helps you realize a habit or trend you have gotten into hoarding things that only weigh you down.

2. Start tracking your actual spending

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[Image Description: A gif of “The Simpsons” where Marge explains to Homer how much he has spent on donuts.] Via giphy
This one probably requires the greatest discipline because we forget how much of our day is filled with financial transactions.

From the bills coming in to the Amazon Prime to the runs at the pharmacy or quick lunch between meetings, it feels difficult to exist in this world at all for free.  Before I began tracking my spending I tried to convince myself that I was not “so bad” with my spending.

I had my little rewards to myself.

Yet, when I actually wrote it down I realized those little rewards added to something bigger. One little purchase off Amazon Prime eventually became way too many. I looked through my credit card statement to find how out of control it was, and you should too.

3. Be around people who do not influence you to keep spending more money

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[Image Description: A gif of Schoolboy Q explaining the things he tends to spend his money on.] Via giphy
Going out, especially if you live in cities like Washington, D.C. or New York can become expensive.

When I lived in D.C. a few years ago and found myself between jobs, I could not afford to go out with my friends to new and trendy restaurants (except for happy hours). I decided that it was time to let my friends know that I wanted to look at cheaper options or was more than happy to watch some Netflix while cooking dinner.

To my surprise, most of my friends were fine with this. I had friends who enjoyed the finer things in life, but when they asked me to join them, I finally learned to say no.

I thanked myself every time I did.

4. Prioritize what matters to you

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[Image Description: A gif of a “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” mashup where Ron talks about how Bella needs to get her priorities straight.] Via giphy
I will not tell you to completely rid yourself of your gym/fitness memberships if you are actually using them and they are a part of your self-care plans.

No matter how strapped I have felt for cash, my group fitness is not something I can give up. However, maybe I can rid myself of fine dining experiences and gourmet food. I will be fine without them because I eat to live, not the other way around. I cannot tell you exactly what that may be for you, but prioritizing is not only cheap but a generally good skill in life and work.

5. Find a free hobby or creative pursuit

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[Image Description: A gif of a teenage kid dribbling three basketballs at once.] Via giphy
Not everything you pursue has to cost money. You can easily take up many free hobbies before finding passion in one that requires more investment. Most of the time spending any disposable income we have left happens during our free time.

When you spend that free time doing something actually free, the likelihood of spending decreases. Not to mention, you develop new knowledge and skills that keep you learning, even if you have left school. The internet is home to many free opportunities to learn just about anything.

While it takes discipline, it is rewarding in the long run. And hey, maybe you will become so good at your hobby that it turns into a side hustle that earns you extra cash!

You have no more excuses to not save in 2018. Saving money is not simply about having a number in your bank balance.

It is an exercise in self-discipline, and well, adulting.