And I am not talking about ordering that extra side of guacamole.
Well, if I am being honest, I don’t remember the last time I payed extra for a side of guacamole. I mean $3 extra dollars?! Get real…
I have been unemployed for seven months now, and what I have really learned is just how easy it is to spend money. I have always considered myself a pretty big saver, but there is something about watching the balance in your savings account go down, down, down that really puts things into perspective.
The thing is, I am not stressed or worried about it. And I think it is mainly because I have put some guidelines up around my spending.
My Five Rules for Spending Money:
- Buy What You Need. Lord knows I love to shop. So I am by no means going to preach to you the virtues of putting your credit card in a bowl of water and sticking it in the freezer. Instead, buy what you need. The first step to this is taking inventory. Put on some music and get organizing. Go through your closet to see what you’ve got and what needs tossing out or replacing. When you find a moth has turned your sweater into swiss cheese, purchase a replacement guilt-free. But when you go to try on a pair of jeans, remember the four you already own and back away slowly. Then, put an all-out ban on purchasing certain things (mine was makeup) and create a one-in-one out rule for clothing shopping. For me, finding minimalism has been the best way to save money.
- Give Up the Services. As someone who is naturally pretty low-maintenance, this wasn’t too hard to impose. $200 on a hair cut and color every three months, a $30 gel manicure every three weeks, and a $100 facial weekly really adds up over a year ($6,450 to be exact). You don’t have to skip out on the services completely, just opt for an in-home version when possible. DIY a face mask and break out your favorite OPI nail polish (I find it chips less than Essie) and call it a pamper night. The one service I have spent money on: laser hair removal. Although not cheap, I like that I am investing in permanent results, unlike with waxing. Also, razors are expensive so I am counting that as money off the top.
- Be A Smart Shopper. I get it, some times spending money is unavoidable. So when you can, shop smart. For me, this looks a lot like buying last-minute flights on the cheapest day possible (a Tuesday, which is easy to swing when you don’t have a 9 to 5) and checking Retail Me Not before buying anything. I also opt to forego housing costs by staying with friends while traveling. Aside from an Airbnb in Santa Cruz and Bend, all of my travels have led me to a friend’s couch. As you read this, I am in Alaska, where I am paying for housing, but opted for the much cheaper $29 a night cost of a hostel. Oh, and when you do spend money, get some points for it! I love my Capital One Venture card because I can earn cash back or, better, airline miles for the money I am spending. Just be sure to pay off your monthly balance entirely to avoid paying interest.
- Quality over Quantity. In my eyes, sometimes being a smart shopper means investing in top quality. When deciding to take the plunge and purchase hiking boots and a backpack for an upcoming trip I am planning, I decided to purchase top of the line gear. After trying on a few different backpacks, and even ordering a men’s small with the hope of saving myself $100, I decided to purchase the backpack that fits my body perfectly and will last for a longer length trek. The same went for hiking boots. Although pricey, they have all of the specifications that I required and will last me on many trips, through desert or water and valleys or mountains. A great tip here is to purchase at the end of the season, when everything starts going clearance. Yes, you might not be able to wear that bikini for another eight months, but when it is time to break it out, you will smile knowing you saved 50%.
- Invest in the Things You Love. Ultimately though, what I care most about is investing in the things I love. For me, that means investing in experiences. Purchasing concert tickets, a pass to a new museum, or a Southwest seat to Seattle, I will gladly spend my money on things that bring me happiness. And although my bank account shows that I am loosing money, it has not felt like a loss at all. I mean, isn’t this why we work? So we can build a good life for ourselves, filled with activities and products that bring us joy? So work hard and play harder. Spend on the dinner out with friends, on the acting lessons, or on the fishing rod. Life is meant to be fun.
And, as I keep telling myself, you can earn it back with some hard work and tight budgeting.
What are your guidelines when spending money? Let us know below.