Since I’m in my final year of graduate school, I try not to think too much about saving money, only because I have no money coming in. Okay, that’s somewhat of a lie – I do have a part-time job at the library where I write and post social media content. But all of that small amount of money goes straight to everyday expenses and rent. I also occasionally find coins on the street. Does that count?
Even though I don’t have real money coming in, I do get excited about the prospect of being able to budget and save money in a real way once I graduate. So today, when I was avoiding working on my final projects and was instead taking a stroll in the wonderful land of the internets, I found this article: “7 Financial Decisions Made In Your 30s That May Haunt You in Your 50s.” There’s nothing like fear to make me click.
The article has a lot of good tips and ideas for saving money and it’s definitely worth a read.
This tip was my favorite:
Pay Attention to your Dollars
The author writes:
“If I could take back what I spent in the past twenty years on coffee, clothes I bought on sale but rarely wore and my “guilty pleasure” books, I’d be a wealthy woman.” – Nancy Anderson
It’s so simple, right? But so hard to internalize and practice regularly. What are your indulgences? Mine are definitely drinks – from $4 lattes to $1.89 diet cokes to $7 glasses of cabernet. It’s hard to just start cutting these seemingly small indulgences out of your life. As silly as it may sound, these treats bring me great happiness in my day.
Now, the question is: How to pay attention to the dollars? (For some people budgets work. I’m not a budgeter, but like I said, that’s mainly because I have no money coming in.)
For me, two things have helped. 1) Keeping a journal of what I spend. I go through phases of this. Certain days I am religious about it, and then I drop off for a bit. But basically, the gist of it is that I write down EVERYTHING I spend that day, including the $1.50 for the bus. It helps to get a basic idea of what you’re spending everyday.
2) I set a daily limit. My daily limit is somewhat high, but you’d be surprised how quickly it goes. I try and spend about $30 a day. Now, this may SEEM like a lot, but really try and do it, and you’d be surprised how hard it is. Many days earlier in the week, I only spend $10-12 on food, drinks, etc. But when it comes to Thursday-Sunday, it gets harder. There are social functions – dinners, drinks, movies. A meal out, with a drink and tip, will generally cost $25-27 (at the types of places I go to.) So this means that I have to spend $3 the rest of the day, or eat into the other days. Which is generally what happens. For instance, I spend just $10 one day, and then one weekend day, I spend $50 when I end up going to see a play or movie and pick up a bottle of wine for a party.
What works for you? How do you pay attention to the dollars?