If you love the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" like I do, one of my favorite episodes features a scene where characters Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford spend one day treating themselves to anything they wanted, they called it:
That was pretty much my motto in my 20s.
When I graduated college in 2000, I was fascinated with the recent dot.com boom. I applied for a position at HotJobs.com and I moved to San Francisco to join the Account Management team.
I loved San Francisco but it was challenging financially. With half my paycheck going to rent, I didn’t have much wiggle room to do much else. I started heavily relying on my credit cards to get by. Ultimately, I lost control of my spending. If friends asked me to go to dinner, I would readily agree, knowing full well the expense would have to go on a credit card. I'd also travel to the East Coast for work, but would stay extra days on my own dime (cough, credit card) to hang out with friends.
I finally came to a point where I realized I couldn’t keep my spending pattern up and decided to do something about it.
I decided to get to the root of the problem and started by working with a Life Coach who helped me understand why I was not paying attention to the things/experiences/social gatherings I was purchasing day to day. So, I started saying no to friends and co-workers who wanted to go out almost every night. I brought my lunch to work every day. I stopped going on trips or extending my trips. I read books on developing a positive mindset. Now, I stop and ask myself if something I am about to purchase is a want or a need. I still to this day have to be conscious of my spending because if I am not paying attention, I can quickly go dark and spend up a storm.
Here are 10 Tips that helped me curb my spending:
- Be honest with yourself. Why are you spending so much? Really dig deep as to how you feel when you make an impulse purchase. What feeling triggered the need to shop?
- Just say no! If you have trouble saying “no” to social invitations, stop right there! Understand that you will miss out, but you can’t keep this pace up the rest of your life. Your friends will understand if you tell them you want to save money. If they don’t then…err…maybe they aren’t such great friends.
- Make a list of needed wardrobe staples each season. For example, think of a new button-down shirt to replace one that is stained or a pair of basic black flats if your current pair is worn out. Spread the purchases out through the season. Shopstyle is an excellent tool that will save and track your clothing, shoes, accessories, and alert you when they go on sale.
- Keep a goal journal. If you want to take a big trip or purchase your first home, write these goals down in a journal. Look at the goals daily to remind yourself to save for the long term. Visuals are everything, so try to include photographs if possible.
- Host a potluck party or picnic. I am a huge fan of the house party where everyone pitches in. It’s a very low stress and low-cost way to bring everyone together.
- Sign up for Unroll.me Stash all your promotional emails into one condensed email. This way, you will be less tempted to shop for items you don’t need just to save a buck or two.
- Use Loyalty or coupon websites that work with retailers. Websites such as Ebates (rebate website, earn cash back for every dollar you spend), Upromise (get a head start on saving for your kids’ college funds), and Coupon Cabin (a pure coupon and deal site).
- Get moving for less. If you like to exercise there are some amazing fitness Apps with a one-time fee. Grokker is a great example. You pay an annual fee of around $100 bucks and you get unlimited (and in my opinion) challenging Yoga, HIIT, Mindfulness videos to do right in your home (they have tons of promotions throughout the year). Or better yet, if you want to go the free route, YouTube has a TON of fitness gurus teaching some great classes!
- You want to eat organic? Instead of spending a ton at the grocery store, sign up for Thrive Market. For a one-time annual fee of $59 you can purchase organic and healthy food at wholesale prices. Plus, they give back to families in need, introducing them to quality nutrition. A win win!
- Finally, go through your spending and cut out anything you don’t use or need. Do you have an ongoing subscription you forgot you signed up for? Can you negotiate down your cable bill or switch to streaming tv? Set up a Mint.com account and start categorizing like crazy. Remember little things add up!
These tips should get you well on your way to saving money starting today! These tips help you save money without feeling like you are sacrificing any fun.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The websites listed are not affiliated with or endorsed by LPL Financial.