If you keep up with the blog or my YouTube channel you know that Austin and I are engaged and planning a wedding. While its completely unnecessary to have a big fancy wedding, I’m a total princess and I want one so that’s what we’re doing. Even though we’re making cuts to traditional aspects of a wedding that aren’t important to us like a cake, guest book, and favors – we’re still going to be spending a lot of money. With so much money being put out I’ve been looking for ways in my day-to-day to cut costs and keep as much money as I can in my own hands. Here are a few tips and techniques I’ve been using to keep a few extra dollar in my pocket
- Pack your lunch! And don’t tell me you don’t have time because you will find the time if you really want to save money. I find it’s easiest to pack my lunch the night before while I’m making dinner. I either make extra servings of the dinner itself to pack up for lunch or chop up a salad while my dinner is cooking. When I would buy food in the cafeteria at work the average meal was about $6.95 (which is on the affordable side admittedly). Over the course of the year, even including 2 weeks of time off and holidays, buying lunch everyday would come to over $1500. This is something I’ve been doing for over a year since I went vegan and it’s made a big impact on my bank account as well as prevented a lot of food waste from buying groceries that didn’t get used. That’s a double win.
- Limit your eating out. This sounds like a simple idea but if you aren’t tracking your spending its easy to eat out a dozen times in a month and not even realize. I know for me and Austin, if we’ve both had a long day and get home late Taco Bell is a go-to for us since its right around the corner from our home and easy to veganize. We could probably make a healthier version of our beloved veganized 7 layer burrito in 30 minutes for a quarter of the cost at home.
I have three ideas for tackling this money hole. You could create a monthly allowance for eating out and once you hit your budgeted amount you are done for the month. You could plan one or two highly quality restaurant nights every month which allows you to still eat out but with a more elevated experience. The trick to this one is that you can’t allow yourself any fast food runs. The last technique to try is to only eat out when its a social experience. Pairing eating out with quality time with friends and family will make it a much more enriching experience and it creates the mental connection that eating out is to be a treat shared with others – not a convenience.
I’ve personally been using the budgeting technique since I’ve been tracking all my income and spending with the EveryDollar app, which leads us to…
- …track all of your spending. In December I started using EveryDollar to track my income and budget where all of my money was going. The premise is you plan out where “every dollar” is going and you stick to the plan you lay out. I’ve found using this method of tracking my finances is helpful not just for planning for wedding expenses, but also for saving and paying down debts.
- Stick to only buying the necessities. You don’t have to think of necessities in the strictest sense of the word. Obviously, if you run out of concealer you can buy yourself a new one. Instead, avoid revamping your wardrobe for the hell of it, stay away from stocking your home with snack just in case you have guest, don’t buy 3 hot new eye shadow palettes just because they’re limited edition when you already have plenty of eye shadow. Replenish an item where is necessary but don’t buy things you have plenty of. I’ve been guilty of this time and time again (lipstick, candles, planner stickers, clothes) but putting a complete stop to it and only replenishing when needed will open your eyes to just how much money you were throwing away.
- Take advantage of any perks your workplace offers you. This is a tricky one because not all workplaces have perks, but if your’s does take full advantage where it makes sense. Here are a few perks that me and/or my friends have in our workplaces that can really save money: fully paid for company phone (some companies may not allow person use but mine does), discounted workplace gym with free access to personal trainer and classes, coupons and discounts for local activities, discounts for big box store memberships, retirement savings plan set up and contribution, discounted dry cleaning, employee discounts on company goods, free coffee in the break room. You can always get a personal phone, join a more elaborate gym, and go back to buying fancy Starbucks drinks once you hit your financial goals.
- Unplug items you use less frequently than twice a day. The savings from this is minimal compared to other tactics on the list, but every penny counts when you’re working towards a goal. And honestly, this is probably the easiest thing on the list to do because it requires zero will power. Turn off the toaster after you warm up your morning bagel, you’re wallet will thank you.
- Go to all of your preventative doctor appointments. This may sound a bit out of left-field compared to all of the other items on this list, but trust me it’s very important. Nearly all medical plans cover a yearly physical, pap smear, and eye exam with additional exams covered as you age like mammograms and colonoscopies. Serious illnesses could leave you with thousands of dollars of bills, so it’s important to attend every preventative appointment in order to catch illnesses early and minimize damage done to both your body and wallet. If you have dental coverage be sure to go to your semi-annual cleanings as well. Major dental work gets costly fast and even rich dental benefits often only cover up to a couple thousands dollars worth of work.
- Buy second hand. If you absolutely have the itch to shop head to the thrift shop instead of the mall. Finding something spectacular is far more rewarding when you thrift shop since there’s a thrill to the hunt. It’s also going to be miles cheaper than if you were to buy a comparable item from a standard retailer, while still scratching your shopping itch.
These are the tips I’ve used to help me reach my financial goals. I hope that sharing what works for me will help some of you. It’s always important to be responsible with your finances and that’s been a hard hurdle for me to tackle. If yall would like to see more posts about saving, spending, or money tips in general just let me know.