In the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life comes at ya fast.” I learned this when, after graduating college, I suddenly had to get my life together and financially support myself. The horror.
But I’m also young and fun (I swear!). I want to go out with my friends, follow trends, and buy myself a little treat — and, actually, whatever else I want. Which is where the issue lies.
I know I have to afford essentials like rent, groceries, and utilities — but I’m also a woman of luxury. I like to get my nails done, I enjoy going out to brunch with my friends on the weekend, and getting a coffee is a daily ritual at this rate. If I were to reel in my lifestyle, would I still be me?
Budgeting can be daunting, but it’s never too late to do a complete financial reset. Yet, by learning that life is about balance, I’ve found a way to save money and reward myself with the things I want at the same time. Cutting yourself off cold turkey just means you’re going to want to spend even more later.
Monthly, I have a meltdown with my mom about the state of my finances. Judge me if you wish, I know you all do it. Without fail, she explains kindly, “You're doing great for the lifestyle you live.” That’s code for: they should’ve made you the star of Confessions of a Shopaholic, but you still put food on the table.
But this year, I want to go on vacation… and I’m moving. So, I'm literally being forced to save money, even though I’m built to spend it. Against all odds, I’m also determined to not deprive myself of the little pleasures in life — like an occasional concert or trip to Free People.
If you want to save money without sacrificing too much of your lifestyle, here are a few tips I’ve been experimenting with during these trying times.
Freelance Online Work
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If you have a job but want to make some extra cash on the side, there are plenty of freelance online platforms that make it easy to get started on your own time. By enhancing some of your AI, SEO, or writing skills, you can make a decent hourly wage by just working a few hours on your laptop each week.
Sites like Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork have a wide variety of freelance positions available at all times. You can also try paid online survey sites like Swagbucks, where all you need to do is take a few surveys.
This helps you get some extra help for bills and other necessities — or locks in that morning coffee without feeling guilty.
Take Cash Out
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If you want to really understand your spending habits, take your next paycheck out in cash. By only depositing money for online orders, you’ll be able to see where exactly your money is going. Plus, they say that it’s harder to spend money when you’re physically watching it leave your hands.
I like to keep an envelope in a safe place where I save $20 in cash from each paycheck. Since I don’t see this money in my bank account, I’m not tempted to sneak money from my savings for something extra.
Check Out Personal Finance Apps
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While I’m no expert on investing, I do know it’s a great way to make money without actually doing much. If you don’t know where to even begin, we have a great list of personal investing apps that are easy to use and great for beginners.
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No, not stocks. Take inventory of what you own: look in your closet, make a note of all the shirts and pants you have, the color shoes you have, the makeup in your drawers. The important part is to understand that you may not actually need the things you think you do.
Then sell some of your clothes on resale sites like Poshmark or Depop if you’re insistent upon getting that new pair of pants. Make sure to make the money back in some way, so you’re not feeling guilty for purchasing.