By: Urvi Patel
Bank account: $1000.00
Me: *goes out with friends one weekend*
Bank account: $3.62
Money slips through our fingers like sand. One day, we’re living large, and the next, we’re eating ramen for dinner. To live a financially balanced life, what expenses can we cut down on in our everyday life? Let’s find out!
Use cash. We live in a time of credit cards and debit cards. There are definite advantages, like convenience and safety, but there is no escaping the biggest drawback when it pertains to how we spend money: when we don’t see physical money leaving our wallets, our minds convince us that we’re not actually spending that much.
How do we combat the cycle of spending, overspending, cringing at the sight of our bank account, and repeating? For a week, or even just a couple of days, monitor what you swipe your card for, how often you swipe, and the amount you swipe for. The next week, go to your bank or ATM and withdraw the amount of cash that you used in the previous period. Here’s an additional tip: withdraw money from your bank’s ATM to avoid fees from other ATMs! Over time you will grow aware of how much you have and how much you want to spend. I can’t remember the last time I consistently had cash in my wallet, so I’ll give it a try with you!
Make coffee. Purchasing coffee isn’t always about the coffee; sometimes, it’s about the experience and the comfortable feeling of walking into work with a disposable coffee cup in hand. What isn’t comforting is spending $720 a year or about $3 a day if we purchase coffee every weekday. That average doesn’t represent the cost of fancy coffee either. Think about how you could spend that $720 in one year or $3,600 in five years.
Now, if this relates to you, no need to drastically change who you are! However, I encourage you to reevaluate your routine. Ease yourself into a beneficial change. Wake up early and make a pot of coffee before you start the day and then walk into work with a reusable coffee mug like the confident and eco-friendly adult that you are. It’s a different routine with the same comfort and less cost. Set a practical goal for yourself and before you know it, this positive change will become your routine. Give it a go and share your story with us.
Cook meals. “Dining out is convenient and fun!” Yes, it is. It is also more expensive. According to Time, the price gap between preparing meals at home and dining out is getting bigger, meaning it is certain that we save money by limiting how often we dine out. Let’s say that during the weekdays, you spend around $10 for lunch. That’s $50 a week and $200 a month. I’ll let you do the math for how much you’d be spending per year. Let’s think about the alternative. Could you make a similar meal at home with the right groceries? Yes, you definitely could! What’s stopping you?
“I like the experience of dining out.” Well, pursue a new experience of learning recipes or inviting friends to cook with you!
“I can’t cook.” I understand. However, I won’t take a self-proclaimed lack of abilities as an excuse. Check out these 26 Cheap-and-Easy Meals that you can try. If you have other recipes or have tried these meals by yourself or with friends, share your experiences with us!
Take inventory. We don’t all live a minimalistic life and that’s okay. However, for those of us with closets full of stuff, we forget what we already have, and end up buying more than we need. Spend a Saturday taking inventory of your clothes, shoes, books, appliances, and everything in your space. From there, set aside what you haven’t used in the past year, and donate it to your local nonprofit or thrift store. Who said you couldn’t be a helpful member of the community by cleaning? Now, next time you find yourself shopping, you won’t buy what you already have, saving you money and space.
Wait 20 minutes. We see the word “sale” and excitement shines in our eyes making us eager to find out more. Challenge yourself by practicing self-control: Before you pull out your cash for the 30% off jacket or the newest gadget that society convinces you that you must have, wait 20 minutes. If, by the end of the 20 minutes, you still believe it is a worthy and practical purchase, by all means, go forward and accept the outcomes. I guarantee you though, the 20-minute rule will help you save more in the long run.
At the end of the day, we want to be financially balanced adults and every day, we can take simple steps to work towards this goal:
Give these a try and let us know in the comments how they impact your daily life!