Recently, my friends and I have decided that we want to take a vacation in December. With it only being six months away and my current financial situation, I have found myself extremely stressed. With a medical bill over $3,000 that I am slowly paying off and an income that is less than the bills, it is making it hard to imagine doing anything other than only going back and forth between work and home. Luckily, I have some tips, which I used while I was paying off my college loan, that I thought I would share, hoping they will be helpful for you as well.
1. Don’t Overspend
If you are like me, then you are along the lines of a shopaholic. Retail therapy is one of my favorite things. Instead of really thinking about whether or not I actually need something, I will just buy it. This is especially true when I’m stressed, then I tend to go on a shopping spree when I get my paycheck. Unfortunately, this just leads to more stress. Instead, whenever you go shopping, think about what you actually need versus what you want. While times are tough, only stick to your needs, because you can always get your wants later. This narrowed my spending by about fifty percent.
2. Make a List
Every time you have to go grocery shopping, or run to the store for just a few things, make a list. While you are at the store, do not get tempted buy things nicely displayed, it’s a trick the store uses to get you to buy things. In addition, you will save some money this way by not giving in to any temptations.
3. Bring Your Lunch
At work, I would buy my lunch every day. I would always go to Subway, and buy my sandwich and a drink to wash it down. Once I really sat down and figured it out, I realized I was spending six dollars a day on a single meal, and by the end of a five-day workweek, I would be spending $30 per week just on one meal. So instead, I started making my own sandwiches. I found a loaf of bread (store brand) for under a dollar, and a variety of different things I could use to make my lunch, along with beverages I could take along with me for under $30 that tend to last me at least 2 weeks, which is perfect since I get paid bi-weekly.
4. Make a Budget
When you receive each paycheck, look at it and really decide where to spend it before going out and buying anything. For example, I like to write down different categories, such as bills, medical expenses, car insurance, gas, gym etc, and write down how much I owe for each of these things during this period. Next, I will subtract the total amount of that from my paycheck, write down another group of categories; fun, unexpected expenses, medical, food, going out, etc, along with the previous categories, and divide that amount amongst all the categories and that determines how much I have to spend for each thing. This also helps me put some money into savings from every paycheck. You have to stick to the budget though; otherwise, this will not be an effective way to save money.
5. Set A Little Aside from Every Paycheck
This is probably the most common way people save money. I did it when I was saving up for a big trip to Nashville, and it worked for me then. I would put $20 or more from every paycheck into my savings account at the bank, and earn interest on it. Now that my bills are higher, and my paychecks have only increased a little bit, I find it hard, but I’m trying to set at least $5 aside from every paycheck. If I am able to do this, then in 6 months when I am planning to take my vacation I will have saved about $60. That really does not sound like much, but it will be extra spending money to have while I am there.