STOP Spending and START Saving Your Money Now
When I was a child, I always imagined going to Jerusalem. I remember sitting in CCD on a Tuesday evening in eighth grade, and day-dreaming about being in the most Holyland. Fast forward about 8 years and I actually made it to Jerusalem. I made it happen while I was in college full-time, balancing rent, utilities, my puppy, and a car. I did this by cutting out expenses I did not need. I spent a portion of every weekend planning my income and my immediate expenses, and any money that I had left over, I put into an interest savings account to afford this trip.
I want to give you guys some tips on budgeting so you can totally achieve financial freedom. It’s not sexy and it’s really not that fun in the beginning, but I can promise you that learning the skill now will make the future you so thankful. Keep reading to learn my easy 3 steps to accomplish any goal, afford any purchase, and see any dream you have come true.
Step 1: Write down your income and expenses
To start out, you need to get a baseline of how much income you actually have. If you make $400 a month, write it down. Next, make a list of your immediate expenses. These are things like rent/mortgage, utility bills, gas for your car, and groceries. Get a desk sized calendar or a planner, and fill it in with your pay dates and bill due dates. If your goal is to reach financial freedom, don’t forget any credit card due dates!
When you look at this list of income and expenses, if your utility expenses are more than your income, you may qualify for assistance. Don’t be afraid to apply for this if you need it. Our government has created programs that help people afford their bills all year round, but most times the deadlines are in the winter. If you can get on one of these programs, your utility bills may become income based. You may also qualify for a grant that goes directly to your bills and allows you to have your bills auto-deducted from that grant each month. If this happens, you may find yourself sighing of relief for months.
Step 2: Think about your unnecessary purchases and prepare to eliminate them
Make a list of as many purchases you make but do not need. This includes the Chipotle you buy for lunch when you have perfectly good food at home to eat, and even that cute little keychain that you just ‘HAVE TO HAVE’ at the register of your favorite mall store. Here, you have to be honest with yourself. This is a huge part of this budget.
I want you to read this next line out loud right now and say it in your head when you catch yourself spending on something you don’t need: I CAN DO WITHOUT BECAUSE I HAVE GOALS. I know it’s silly…but it takes practice and time to make a habit. No, $10 won’t make a huge difference in your pocket at first, but with consistency, you will find that your expenses are much more manageable than you think.
Part two of this step is start saving the money you are no longer spending so that financial freedom in the future is more achievable. For some people, a bank account with no debit card works to just to deposit saved money. For others, putting the cash into a hidden envelope is the magic key to saving. Whatever it is that works for you, you have to put this money up and do not spend it!
Step 3: Write down your big and small goals and leave them somewhere you’ll see them often
Write down your short term goals. If you want to go on a cruise, write it down. If you want a pair of Louboutin boots, write it down. When you visualize it, you can actualize it. That is something I’ve learned through my journey of becoming a successful saver. When I first started saving for my trip to Jerusalem, I was putting $1, $5, and $10 bills into a jar every few days. Before long, I was depositing $50-$60 a week into my savings account. It took me eight months to save enough money to cover my flight, hotels, meals, local travel expenses, and souvenir money. The more I said my mantra “I can do without because I have goals”, the more it rang true in my ears. I no longer wanted to spend the money that I didn’t plan to spend. I no longer was struggling to manage my bills because I knew when they were due, how much (estimated) they would be, and I knew when I got paid. It felt good knowing I had the money. If I needed to rearrange my bill the due dates to work better for me, I did that. I basically did whatever I had to do to become financially responsible.
The point is, you can afford pretty much anything when you STOP SPENDING. If you stop spending money on things you don’t need you will be able to afford the things you need and the things you want, with no guilt attached.
If you are stressed about your money, you’re like most people around you. You have the power to take your finances and make them work for YOU. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t get worried when you feel like you don’t fit in because you’re saving and not spending right now.
Write down your income and expenses.
Write down the things you are spending money on and eliminate them from your budget.
Write down your goals and keep saving towards them.
Before you know it, you will have accomplished your goals, too. I hope that this article has gotten your wheels turning, and that you are thinking of saving your money now to achieve financial freedom in the future.