For those that have read this blog, you know how much I have in retirement savings. If you’ve watched the video on my home page, you know how much I’ve personally saved along with how old I am. (Ok you don’t have my birthday or social…relax!) The reason that you know this information, specifically how much I’ve saved, is because I’m proud of that dollar amount! I’m proud of how much I’ve saved because I did it the old fashioned way: maintaining employment and always finding ways to get a raise to increase my income (*cough* those two things are really important). I didn’t make half a million a year like some who are lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) enough to work in extremely lucrative careers. My career started me at $50,000 and I had to work my way into the six-figure range over the next 8 years.
Then, I went and quit my job. If you know me, you know how challenging it is for me to be without a steady source of income. I’ve had a job since high school and worked throughout college, even though I was fortunate enough to come from a well-off family where I didn’t need to work. I worked because I don’t like to spend my savings on basic living expenses. I like having savings. My savings are for travel, going-out, shopping, my future home, future children…etc. You know, the big stuff.
Ask anyone and they will tell you, over the past few years I was making enough money that I had no problem spending it on things I considered ‘fun’ (vs. necessary), things like snow trips, a great shoe collection, a new car, a fancy wedding, nice furniture, trip to New Zealand… you feel me? But when I quit my job to start this business, things changed overnight. So fast, in fact, I can already write to you about it. Below you’ll find tips and tricks to help you “live within your means” as my husband likes to say.
Grab and discard your low hanging fruit: Don’t feed into our consumer-istic society
Do you remember what it used to take to get you to purchase something? You had to either go to the store or see a commercial on TV and then go to a store. 10-15 years ago, it was so much harder to spend money. Today, you might spend more time inadvertently viewing ads than speaking to your significant other or best friend. Think about it, Instagram pays influencers anywhere from $85-$100,000 to post something that might lead to a sale. Facebook does the same thing. Even if ads weren’t blasting in your face, the fact that you can order things without leaving your house is a business’s dream, and unfortunately, could be your financial downfall…
Ok, so what do you do about all this easy spending that we now have access to? How do you stop yourself from simply pressing “add it to my cart”? Below are some seemingly easy tricks that you can do to avoid temptation in our digital world.
1. Go through your Instagram/Facebook/social media and “unfollow” anyone that you’ve considered or actually bought something from. Yes, even those that claim to just be a “lifestyle” brand are selling you things ALL the time. Just tap once to see the products tagged in their photos…
2. Stop going to your favorite websites for shopping. I had two clothing sites that I went to every few weeks because they always had sales. I no longer visit them and therefore no longer get ads from them on my Google feed. (And no, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it.)
3. Cancel your subscriptions. In our household, we’ve probably had 5 subscriptions to various businesses that claimed to help us “save time” from running basic errands over the past year or so… sadly, they are no more. If you really need something on a regular basis, you have to want it so badly that you are willing to get your ass out of the house and to the store (you know “the old-fashioned way” ;)
I know this feels painful, but think of it this way – 10 years ago you wouldn’t have even had any of these digital options. I mean, I could go back to a Sidekick or Blackberry phone…just saying.
Monitor your travel expenses
Travel can be two things: (1) How you get to and from work/events and (2) Travel to another city, or even another country. Let’s talk about the ‘to and from work/events’ first.
I would say the number one thing I find people don’t pay attention to is their Lyft/Uber bill each month. It’s astonishing how much you can spend on this if you don’t pay attention to your app spending ($7 here, $10 there). It’s been 2 months since I’ve used Lyft to get me anywhere on a weekday. I’m back to the bus. I used to do it, why can’t I go back? If that saves me $300 a month, then why not? What’s so bad about public transportation? You can listen to a podcast, people watch (a favorite of mine), or just take in the sites, all why paying a minimal fee for getting to your destination without having to worry about parking, mileage on your car, or filling up for gas. Again, how did we used to get around before companies like Lyft existed? Let’s get back to the good ol’ days.
Ok, so what about vacation-related travel? As someone that’s been to nearly 40 countries, this one hurts the most. Not everyone can afford to travel in the same way. In today’s world of lifestyle brands, professional travelers, and lifestyle bloggers all scream-typing YOLO, it’s hard not to try to “keep up with the Jones’s” when it comes to travel. Take a look at your 2019 calendar, and see how many flights you will realistically need – Flights for weddings, birthdays, or personal trips. For each flight that you take, you have to pay between two to ten times the price on the rest of the trip (hotels, food, adventures). If you have to say, “No” to a wedding, or skip your annual trip this year, do it. Going into debt for a wedding isn’t worth it. Get your finances back on track first.
Make a plan
It’s not enough to just cut back on things here and there. As you’ve learned from my prior blog, it’s important to have goals and track them. If you constantly find yourself dipping into your savings you need to find out why. What’s making you cut into your savings? Is it something you really need, or just something that you want?
1. Start by tracking your expenses (there are apps like Mint or YNAB for that).
2. Identify where you are overspending.
3. Cut that shit out ☺
Don’t “treat yo-self” every time you make a little extra, or if you’ve had a bad day
The same rules for a diet apply for your finances. If you workout and then eat a burger and fries, you have likely consumed more calories than you’ve spent. Best case, you break even. Worst case, you just gained weight. . If you get a raise or a bonus, don’t take that extra money and immediately spend it on something. Even if that something is something that you really want. Ease into the rich life over months to see exactly how far those extra dollars can take you. Oh, and for the love of me and my sanity, save and invest some of it. ☺
I can tell you it’s really hard to change your lifestyle from wealthy to poor and very easy to go from poor to wealthy – just look at some of the celebrities. That said, if you’ve barely been able to afford your wealthy lifestyle, take a step back like I am. One day, I’ll be back on track and I’ll have that six-figure salary. But until then, hello bus and goodbye regular shopping sprees. Yo best life is when you are stress free and can do the things you love. Don't let consumerism dictate what makes you happy.
Happy Living Within Your Means,