My story, why I’m broke:
My parents always wanted the best for me, and although they found every way imaginable to save money, I always got what I needed. The key word being ‘save’. As a kid, my mom would do things that would be totally frustrating, like refusing to ever turn the heat up. I would say, ‘Mom, it’s freezing in here.’ And she would casually tell me to go put a sweater on.
On my side of things, I was getting the things that I wanted, like new basketball shoes, cool clothes, and toys that the other kids had. What I didn’t realize back then was that my parents held onto every penny like it was worth it’s weight in gold. They grew up poor in big families. Saving was not a luxury, but a necessity. But money was never an issue in my little bubble, and that’s probably where my fiscal irresponsibility began. The words ‘want’ and ‘need’ just meant the same thing.
As a university student, I began to understand that I couldn’t live like this. I guess I started to grow up (finally at the age of 21), and I knew that the big safety net that are my parents wouldn’t be there forever.
Some steps I’ve been taking to mitigate my awful spending habits:
1. Make a monthly budget: Knowing how much I can spend on certain things like eating out and gas have helped me spend a lot less. I found that I tried to lie to myself about how much I would spend week-to-week. Be totally honest with yourself, you’re doing it for your own benefit and no one else is going to know. It’s funny how all the little things add up to devastate my bank account. I’m semi-dependant on my iPhone, so I got an app called Mint to help me out. It links to all my bank accounts and categorizes my spending. It’s a great visual to see if I am overbudget. I love it, and you might want to give it a try.
2. Limiting my credit card use: Money just pours out of me with no filter when I have my credit card on me. Going out for drinks and eating out are huge money wasters. So recently, I’ve been leaving my card at home and taking out cash before I go out. Creating a limit so I don’t go out of control. Shopping online can also be a problem, so at one point I gave my parents my credit card so I would need to get their approval before buying anything. Obviously, they didn’t approve anything, which helped me limit spending on my ‘wants’.
3. Being smart, thinking like my parents: Going out to a bar to watch the game or stopping by MacDonald’s for a snack can add up. Instead, I’ll invite a couple friends over to watch the game, have a few drinks, and I’ll make some nachos. That’s less than $10 for a fun time instead of spending $50 at the bar. It’s not nearly as frugal as my parents can be, but it’s definitely a good start. There are always ways to have fun without emptying your bank account, just take an extra second to think before making that impulse-buy.
I know a lot of you are way smarter than I am, and you’ve probably been doing this your whole life. But, if you’re like me, these 3 steps are a good place to start. And check this site out for more tips! Feel free to leave a comment about what you think. How have you been saving money lately?