First, we’ll start this post with a little affirmation. Inhale, exhale and say aloud:
I am not broke. I am in control of my finances and urges.
And if you don’t believe that, say it again. As Dave Ramsey says, “Poor is a state of mind, broke is just a place you’re passing through.” And it’s time for a relocation, amirite?
I will note, I am no financial guru. Half the time I’m trying to figure it out myself (can we say champagne tastes on a ramen budget?), but here are some tips I have found valuable along the way.
Evaluate Your Situation
Knowledge is 100% power when it comes to your finances. How do you know how to reign in your spending if you don’t know where you’re spending it?
But wait. How the heck do you figure out where you’re spending it?
Well. There are a few ways. Mint is one of the industry leaders on helpful apps to figure out where your money is going. If you are diligent in itemizing all your transactions, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful charts that tell you that it’s probably time to cut that Tuesday night taco habit.
In addition to general spending, it’s great to just have a general idea of what your bills are. Sometimes I make a Google spreadsheet, other times it’s just a tear and wine stained piece of paper. But it’s important to do an audit quarterly to note potential money leaks.
Once you’ve listed out your bills (include monthly subscriptions like Hulu and birch box), you can go through and figure out where you can shave some fat off your budget. Personally, this is where I get rid of monthly subscriptions that I really don’t need (Sorry, Ipsy. I have enough junk) and strategize on how to lower some of my bills that take a bigger chunk of my money (I regretfully had to get rid of HBO. Still calling Spectrum regularly to figure out how to lower the rest of my cable bill.)
Save Dat Money
I’m not even going to tell you why you need to save, because at this point I’m sure you’ve been hit with an emergency (like, why are my tires always in need of changing?!) before with no extra cashflow to cover the solution. And in addition to emergencies, you also want to save for adulting goals like weddings, babies and most important, vacation. There are some people that diligently take a sizeable chunk out of each paycheck without breaking a sweat, responsibly planning for another day. For the rest of us, there are ways to save without stressing out about how to live after.
One way to do so is through savings automation. I use Digit*, which takes a look at my bank account and transfers small bits of money every few days into an online savings account. It’s a great way to save without thinking of it, and it adds up before you know it. Acorns also helps you save money using the “round up” method. They round up all of your purchases up to the next dollar, then invest it in the stock market for you. Finally, you can just use your bank’s scheduled transfers to regularly move money from your checking to savings accounts.
Of course, another way to save is to avoid or reduce instances of spending money. There are creative ways to do this. Once, my friends and I had a Brunch Potluck where we all brought a dish and a bottle of champagne. Organizing fun events like this can be a lot more budget friendly without skimping on the fun. Try out the 24 hour rule, which says wait 24 hours before making a non-essential purchase. By then, you might have talked yourself out of that Biden fangirl shirt that you thought you couldn’t live without. Set a series of short term goals for your savings, and be sure to reward yourself when you reach them. Positive reinforcement is the bees knees.
The Bottom Line
The key to getting unbroke is having a clear plan for your money. Know how much you’re spending and make plans to spend smarter while you’re also saving for the short term and long term future. And get creative! You can be smart about your money without having to sit home and stare at your beige apartment walls every weekend. Flourish, my fellow millennials.
*Disclaimer: I am a huge advocate for Digit because I use it, but when you use my referral link I do get a small referral reward at no cost to you.