Is it just me, or are all of these “how-to” articles sounding pretty redundant? You know, with the clickbait title, strikingly attractive yet unrelated photo, and a list of things to “possibly” do that just “may” help you “almost” come close to doing what they said you’ll do?
I don’t have time for that, and neither do you.
I’m giving it to you straight.
No bull. No paid partnership. No false advertisement.
I’m just a 26 year old woman who grew up with money being scarce, and as a result, I’m the most frugal, penny-pinching (cheap in layman’s terms) person I know. I don’t play games when it comes to saving money. And whenever I encountered some rough patches of life—college years, unemployment, hurricane aftermath, etc., I was always financially prepared.
I may not be rich, but I am wise.
And when it comes to properly managing money, especially saving thousands of dollars, you need wisdom and accountability. Period. With that said, I’m not going to drag on anything else that has nothing to do with saving money (like I said, no B.S. around here.) You came here to learn how to save at least $6,000 a year, and that’s exactly what you’ll do. Let’s dive in:
1. Change Your Mentality
You’re not broke (No, seriously, you’re not). It doesn’t matter if you make a million dollars each year or are making below the poverty line. . .you’re still spending money, and a lot of it. For example, if you have an iPhone (or an Apple product in general), that is worth a down payment on a car. If you’re reading this article right now, chances are you’re not living on the street and, not only have access to the internet, you use it quite often. Many of us have several expensive things that we buy and consume everyday without even realizing it. If you live in America, that’s just the norm of our society. There are millionaires who are in debt, and there are people below middle-class who (aside from average home bills) don’t owe anyone a dime. So, the truth is, you’re not broke, you just have bad spending habits. Change your mindset.
2. Stop Dining Out
Just stop it. It’s not healthy for you, both physically and financially. Once or twice a month at a dine-in restaurant? Sure, that’s fine. But eating out twice or more each week? Especially when you already have groceries at home? (Come on, do you really want me to go there?) Let’s do some basic math:
One fast food meal, let’s say Wendy’s or Subway for example, will cost about $5. Not too bad. So most likely $10 if you just casually eat out twice a week. However, if you buy lunch everyday at work, Monday through Friday, that’s at least $25 a week. Multiply that by the 52 weeks in a year. . .
And that’s just fast food. It’s not factoring in weekends, or if you usually dine in one restaurant each week, like Olive Garden (if so, add at least $20 more to each week. So $45 multiplied by 52 weeks in a year. . .$2,340 a year for food that isn’t groceries.) Moral of this story? If you’re trying to save money, eat at home.
3. Stop Emotional Spending
I don’t know if “emotional spending” is an actual coined term, but it’s in reference to the following: spending money simply for the pleasure of satisfying your boredom, as a way of “having fun” or relieving stress, because it’s a new trend, or any other reason aside from simply needing new clothes you’ve outgrown. Remember that “accountability” word I mentioned earlier? Here’s how to put it into practice:
- You pay Beyonce’s bills, she doesn’t pay yours. If you can’t afford an expensive concert, don’t go.
- You’re one person. You don’t need 15 pairs of shoes.
- Yes that [insert desired apparel] looks great on you. You know what else looks great on you? A good credit score.
- Need some stress relief? Go for a jog. Take a hot bath. Go to a free yoga class in the park.
Don’t fall into that deceptive mentality that spending money relieves stress.
4. Learn How to Do/Solve/Fix Things on Your Own
So, last week I was washing clothes and the washing machine malfunctioned. It wasn’t that simple, old school version, but instead that new, high-tech Whirlpool front-wash version. The computer sensor locked the door and wouldn’t open, no matter how many times I reset it. I had two options: wait a few days and spend a couple hundred dollars for someone to come out and fix it, or be persistent and figure it out on my own. I opted for the latter. And the result? After an hour of researching dozens of home appliance repair techniques online, and frustrating trial and errors, I fixed it!
Moral of this story? Think about how much money you could save by learning how to fix a few things around the house or by learning how to make things yourself (YouTube is very resourceful). You’ll save the hundreds of dollars it would’ve cost to hire a technician or to replace them.
To my ladies out there, getting your nails and hair professionally done every month is great, but can be costly. Call me cheap, but I only go to the beautician ONCE A YEAR. And I only go to nail salons once a blue moon. I just do my own hair and nails at home. Those nail salon visits add up to about $20-$50 each, and about $30-$100 each hair appointment. Even going to both of them once a month adds up to $600-$1800 spent a year on grooming.
5. Learn How to Negotiate for Deals and Discounts
Time to get your hustle game on. Analyze products or services you currently pay for and research exceptions, loopholes, and cheaper options. For example, car insurance. A couple of years ago, I bought a new car and made a phone call to my current car insurance to update my account. Since the car was newer than my previous, my monthly premium lowered about $10. Then, I asked the representative how they factored in driving records. It wasn’t until after I asked that she took another look at my account and realized that I qualified for their ‘safe driver discount,’ meaning I hadn’t had an accident in the past three years. That took an additional $30 off of my premium each month (which made my insurance $220 less for the year).
Listen, you never know until you ask! You better ask about your car insurance policy, gym membership policy, credit card rewards, and anything else that offers good deals for loyal customers.
And speaking of gym membership, did you go today? Or yesterday? Or the week before? If your answer is “no,” or “once,” cancel that $80/month membership and either get a cheaper one (like Planet Fitness for $10/month), or workout for free at home (again, YouTube is very resourceful).
6. Perform the Process of Elimination
So most of us have discovered that you can watch just about anything on the internet, whether it’s via YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. With that being said, if you have cable, you don’t need it. If you have a laptop, you really don’t need an iPad or tablet. Yes, they’re convenient. But no, you don’t need it. If you’re really trying to save some extra bucks each month, sell stuff you don’t need. You can use online platforms like Craigslist, Facebook, Ebay, Instagram, and countless others to display your items and sell them. Quick and easy.
7. Seek Alternatives
Last, but not least, the best way I save money is by alternative shopping (another phrase I think I made up.) This means finding a cheaper alternative of what you generally buy or where you generally shop. For example, thrift stores such as Goodwill (if you have patience and know how to search well) have plenty of name-brand, gently worn clothing that some people donated simply because they couldn’t fit it or never wore and decided to give it away. Stores that are going out of business (ahem cough, Macy’s) are having tons of sales right now and plenty of items on clearance. Also, Target usually cuts their prices of clothing and store items as soon as the season changes.
You’d be surprised what you can find at a local thrift store, garage sale, or sales rack. And hey, don’t ignore all off-brand grocery items. Many major brands are literally the exact same thing (ingredients and all), as the store brand, but cost more just for the name.
Now, let’s do the math of everything I spoke about as an annual expense:
- Dining out: $1,300- $2,340
- Emotional Spending (estimate $100/month minimum): $1,200
- Professional Services (for fixing, grooming, etc): $600-$1800
- Extracurriculars at Average price (gym membership): $960
- Owning Stuff you don’t need that can be sold (iPad): $600
- Shopping name brands/expensive groceries each month: $300
TOTAL: $4,960-$7,200 spent annually that can be SAVED
As I mentioned earlier, change your mentality. You have to be serious, disciplined, and humble. I literally saved $6,000 last year when I took a leap of faith and worked full-time as a freelance writer (and I didn’t make much, the struggle was REAL, haha). My savings enabled me to pay rent each month without worry while pursuing my career.
May this post be helpful and resourceful in your journey.
Peace & Love,