My dad is an accountant so he was always on my sisters and I to keep track of our finances and learn monetary responsibility. Even now he still likes to ask where my money is going and how much I have saved. It is more important now for me to keep track of where my money is being spent as I do not have the disposable income that I once had. Bills, mortgages, household duties, pets, and other life necessities can put a real damper on girls’ night out; you look a little lame when you suggest a place with no cover and order water.
Saving money is really hard. It sounds easy, but if you’re like me there are weeks or months where I couldn’t tell you where all my money went (try explaining that one to my dad). My lifesaver (and money saver) has been keeping my receipts and tracking my spending on an excel spreadsheet I keep on the fridge. It seems tedious, and sometimes it is, but at the end of the month I am always glad I did it. The first few months are a good indicator of how you spend your money. I found that it’s best not to be too hard on yourself and just accept that you may spend $100 a month at Starbucks or maybe you go a little overboard every time you are in Shoppers. Instead of being ashamed (it happens to the best of us), take note and be more aware the next time you are stopping to buy toothpaste.
When you look over your monthly spending at the end of the month make a goal for next month. For example mine have been: only grocery shop on Sundays and always bring a list, only eat out once a week this month, stay away from the mall ALL month, and bring your own coffee from home every other day. Just like any goal setting, keep it simple and doable. Having five goals for one month will be hard to keep track of and you can feel like you are broke and housebound forever.
Another tip I live by is shopping near the end of the month rather than at the beginning. This way you have all month to think about what you want to buy and save up a little money for the new pair of shoes you want. This deters me from buying a latte every day, or stopping by Chapters during my lunch break to pick up some random mug or book I don’t really need.
There is probably an app for this, but I find having to physically write the numbers down and have it stare me in the face from the fridge to be more effective than relying on myself to remember to use yet another app. When creating your spreadsheet think of the different segments of your life where you are constantly spending money. For me my categories are groceries, gas, eating out, hygiene, household, dog, fitness (classes), shopping, Starbucks, and other. I’ve had the same categories for over a year now and they have worked for me but you could also add your phone, and energy bills to the list or if you have kids, etc. The categories are listed across the top and the dates are down the left hand side. At the bottom of each category column I have a total to make it easier to compare month to month. You could also have a monthly spending total to make sure you are keeping enough money to save.
To not overwhelm yourself at the end of the month with a stack of receipts, going through them at the end of each week and tracking them on the excel sheet will make it easier and keep you aware of your monthly goal. It is a light reminder that you are accountable for every penny (or nickel now) that you spend.
What is your best money-saving tip?
Originally written for Modern Socialite.