I used to refer to MPR as painfully practical. He likes things that are black & white, he asked for underwear & a bookshelf for Christmas, and he purchases everything he can from Aldi. I’m convinced that if he won the lottery, he’d spend his winnings on student loans, a modest townhouse, and vinyl records.
Me, on the other hand? I have an affinity for all things pretty. Before we got engaged (and later married), I had grown accustomed to spending my money on whatever I wanted, but all of that changed when we opened joint savings and checking accounts. I’ve since gotten serious about personal finance, read up on best practices, and became debt-free earlier this year when I paid off my student loans and my car (🎉).
But I still have a weakness for pretty stationery, white & gold desk accessories, and almost everything from Express. And it’s starting to get in the way of our next big purchase: a house. So I decided to dust off these strategies we used while saving money for our wedding as motivation. Whether you’re saving up for a house, are looking to build a nest egg, or simply need a vacation, here are 10 tips that I’ve used to help me save money.
Based on what you’re saving for, how much you need to save, and how long you have to save it, decide on a realistic monthly figure you can stash away. Once you’ve settled on a dollar amount, treat it just like one of your monthly bills, ex. student loans, cell phone, or car payment, and automatically remove it from your checking account at the end of each month. I like to move everything to a savings account so I’m not tempted to spend it.
During the winter, MPR & I often “hibernate” until the ground thaws. This means home-cooked dinners, Red Box movies, and library books. Baby, it’s cold outside. Enjoy your sweatpants and warm apartment.
So you don’t become a complete hermit and lose all your friends, go out occasionally, but abide by the same principle as in college: pre-game. Going to the bars? Have a couple drinks at home so you buy less when you’re out (as long as you’re not driving, of course). Going out to dinner? Eat a little something before you go so you don’t need to order a huge meal.
4. Coupon Queen
Sometimes, you just need to get out. Date night? Try something new you find on Groupon, whether it’s a restaurant you’ve never been to before, or an activity that takes you out of your comfort zone, like indoor rock climbing. There’s tons of cheap date deals to be had. Desperate to go shopping? Stick to the sales, outlets, or discount stores like Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Unkempt? Take advantage of Mani Mondays at your local salon or cosmetology schools that offer haircuts and facials by students at a discount price.
5. Accept family invites
Family party, Sunday dinner, free ride to Florida, and two seats to a baseball game? RSVP yes, yes, yes, and yes. Everything is better when it’s free!
6. Brown bag it
I know you’ve heard this before, but packing a lunch for work every day saves a ton of money over ordering out. I’ve learned to really savor lunches with clients and media reps because going out is a treat now. Same goes for coffee. Skip the Starbucks and satisfy yourself with a k-cup.
I unsubscribed from all of my emails from Anthropologie, Express, Sephora, and Macy’s. If I don’t know there’s a sale going on or that they released their Spring collection, they don’t exist.
8. Be responsible
When you come across extra money, whether it be your birthday, a tax return, or an inheritance, spend it wisely. If you can, stash the whole sum in your savings account. Easy come, easy go. Or, use it to pay off a debt or pay ahead on a monthly payment that is preventing you from saving. The quicker you pay things off, the quicker your money will be freed up.
9. Rack up points
If you have a credit card that accrues points for cash, gift cards, or travel vouchers, put your smaller expenses on it and pay it off in full every month, just to earn the points. I even use this strategy on business travel, which my agency reimburses me for, so it’s pretty much like free triple points on hotel stays, and free miles on my flights. You can use the points to cover the airfare on your next vacation, get free gift cards for stores you shop at frequently, or even get a jump start on your holiday shopping.
10. Cut extra expenses
Think you could survive on Hulu+? Cut cable. Have a shorter commute now? Cut your sirius xm radio. Don’t usually get around to cracking that issue of NYLON? Don’t renew your subscription. You won’t miss them when they’re gone.
Sometimes, being an adult is no fun, but it’ll be worth it when you reach your goal!
What are your best money-saving tips?