Ahh, money. It’s elusive, yet ever-present, hated but loved. We can’t live with it, can’t live without it. And we all know that feeling—that pit in the stomach—when you’re thinking about your financial situation, whether you’re stuck in dire straits or trying to save but feel like you’re getting nowhere.
Well folks, it doesn’t have to be this painful. Actually, it can’t be this painful, because this is life—so we better start finding a way to enjoy it. Or at least, a way to actually do it. Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard yards. We’ve scoured the modern library (internet) for all the pro tips on how to save money, and it turns out they’re actually pretty achievable‚in some cases, they’re even life-enriching (pun intended).
So before you give in to that pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque life, try these ten tips to start saving money right now.
1. Set Goals
We aren’t talking buying a house or planning retirement necessarily, but it’s much easier to save when you have something in mind—or better yet, written down—that you might want to achieve with the money you’re putting away. That doesn’t have to mean something material that you want to buy becomes the object of your penny-pinching either; choosing a monetary goal can also be motivating. If you’ve got it in your head that you want to have your bank account reflect a certain amount in six months time, you might be surprised how easy it becomes to say a big fat NO to spending on things that you don’t really need.
2. Break Things Down
Okay, so you think you know what you want, and you’ve written your financial goals down somewhere. Now it’s time to figure out what you can sacrifice on the micro-scale in order to get there. First, figure out how much you need to save per day or per week in order to reach your goal. Then, start finding a few things you can stop purchasing on that basis—and be diligent about it. How? Print out your most recent bank statements (‘cos we’ve all gone paperless, right?) and grab a few different coloured highlighters. Green is essentials (food, bills, rent), pink might be luxuries (coffee, dining out, clothes) and yellow could be somewhere in between. Or, if you’ve got a particular ‘problem spend’ (say, I don't know, maybe UberEATS?), choose a specific colour just for that. Highlight away, and then reel as you discover the amount you’re wasting because you’re too busy or too lazy to drive to the restaurant, or to prep your week’s worth of work lunches on a Sunday afternoon. Often, it’s the small things that add up.
3. Open A Savings Account
Yep, you heard me. Having one account, attached to one card, that you’ve always got with you—it’s a recipe for disaster my friends. Check with your bank what they’ve got to offer in the way of savings accounts, and set up that auto-transfer. If it coincides with payday, you will barely even notice the savings money leaving your spendings account—it’ll just be as if that’s how much you get paid. Forget you even have the rest. Or, if it’s watching that savings number dial-up that motivates you, check it regularly. Add to it yourself when you resist the urge to spend a random $20 somewhere, chucking it into savings instead just to pump yourself up. Whatever works for ya.
4. Streamline Your Subscriptions
Do you really need Netflix AND Stan? You could be out scheming ways to make money, rather than watching mindless TV that costs money. Plus the subscriptions are so easy to turn on and off that you can re-subscribe to binge watch the latest season of UnREAL and then cancel again when you're done. Are you taking full advantage of your Spotify Premium? Sure, adds are annoying, but if there’s a whole host of features on Premium that you aren’t even using, couldn’t you just put up with them to save the extra dosh? Gym memberships seem like an adult thing to do, but guys: we live in Australia. We’ve got good weather coming out of our ears and plenty of open, public space to be used. Lay the cash out on a couple of dumbbells, boxing gear and maybe an exercise ball, and you're set. You might be surprised how much healthier your bank account looks at the end of the month without these little debits trickling out.
5. Don’t Treat ‘Treating Yoself’ Like It’s Not A Treat
Don’t worry—we’re still The Urban List. We’re never gonna’ tell you to give up delicious outings altogether, or say that espresso martinis aren’t a justifiable use of funds (they totally are). All we’re saying is that the frequency at which some of us tend to ‘treat ourselves’, often resembles something closer to our normal state of being than an actual treat. Impromptu decisions to splurge on fancy dinners or the latest printed Auguste maxi will kill your budget. Try making a prioritised list of the ‘treats’ you desire: the restaurants you want to try, clothes you want to buy, or experiences you want to have, and then, when you get an urge, remind yourself of your priorities by returning to the list. The next step is identifying moments that deserve treats—birthdays, promotions, making it through a difficult period at work or home. Not only will you save money, but you’ll actually eat, have and see the things that you really want, and you might even find that you value them more!
6. No Spending Days
If you haven’t ever felt the sweet, sweet release into freedom that is going a whole day without cracking open your wallet, you are going to want to try this right now. A particularly good thing for the bank account (and the soul) if you’ve been haemorrhaging cash (e.g. summer), No Spending Days slow the spending momentum and allow you to reframe your financial situation. Pro tip: work a No Spending Day into your regular weekly routine for all round budget and wellbeing wins.
7. No Plans Sundays
We’re sure that No Plans Sundays, or NPS, if you will, is going to be the next big thing. It’s simple: don’t make any plans on Sundays. None. Nada. Don’t even make plans to go for a morning coffee. Not only will they help you spend less on weekends (by avoiding lavish long lunches that you could’ve made at home and kept the leftovers from), they’ll also give you time to prep for the week. Make your lunches, concoct a big ol’ cold brew for the fridge and get your affairs in order. Sidebar: NPS also does wonders for your mental clarity, which usually gives way to better money habits.
8. Remove Temptation
Yes, we all love to be trendy. We’ve got our Facebook, Instagram, and Inbox set up to tell us what to buy and when. As nice as it is to scroll your Insta feed and see the latest cool threads on perfectly proportioned influencers, have you ever stopped to think how utterly unnecessary it is? Review who you follow on social; maybe there are brands or people you could follow instead who might inspire you to manage your money better, or at least to find more fruitful uses for it? It’s great to know about the latest promotions and sales if you need to buy something specific, but the constant influx of ’20% today only!’ is only going to make you spend more than you otherwise would. That’s the system. Trust us.
9. Learn How To Make Everything
Seriously, we mean everything. Linen is trending hard right now, we get it. Go hunting for some fabric, get a pattern, and make it for half the price (or less). It’s literally a piece of fabric wrapped around your waist. Does your favourite muesli cost like $15 per packet? MYO with delicious ingredients bought wholesale instead. Do you crave those healthy super bowls that you can only get at specific cafes around Perth? You can make them at home, every morning, and save heaps of dosh. The same goes for soaps, candles—even cheese if you want to get really serious. Learning how to make things like this won’t just save you money, it will also make you a more well-rounded human! Winning!
10. Be Realistic
At the end of the day, saving is going to absolutely suck if you aren't being realistic. Don’t try and save $8K for a European holiday on a part-time wage, 5 weeks out from your proposed trip. Well, try, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t make it, and, you know, maybe don’t go into debt by still going to Europe. Don’t think that putting aside a bit of money every pay cheque, even if it’s measly, isn’t worth it. Think in percentages, not dollars. It might feel silly putting $30 a week into savings, but who’ll be laughing when you’re sitting back in your mansion that overlooks the beach?
Here are Brisbane's best cheap eats, so you can put a few extra dollies into savings next time you go out.
Image credit: Paramount Pictures