A few months ago, I decided it was time to get myself on the right financial track. A few things had gone on in my life that prevented me from making correct financial decisions—a divorce that left me without a second income, taking on all of the living expenses plus adding a spousal payout into the mix—and I began robbing Peter to pay Paul.
I knew I couldn’t go on like this because it was causing a ridiculous amount of anxiety and stress. (Sound familiar? Here’s how therapists recommend dealing with anxiety.) Every day I woke up worried about bills, figuring out how I could make things work, and strongly weighing dying my hair back to my natural brown colour so I wouldn’t need to pay for highlights (No, I will never be a brunette).
Looking for ways to help me better manage the money I had, I stumbled upon The School of Betty. Started by Brianna Firestone, The School of Betty helps inspire women to have a better relationship with money. Firestone herself was buried under about $50k in credit card and student loan debt and was not only able to make a serious dent in her debt pretty quickly, but she also tackled the emotional connection people have with money and spending. I felt like this resource was exactly what I was looking for.
With her help and encouragement, I have been able to save hundreds of dollars that I wouldn’t have otherwise. All of the tips are simple, and while it’s true that there are instances where it may be harder for you to save money, everyone can at least be able to balance their budget and decrease any anxiety around cash flow.
Below, some of the tips I learnt from Firestone that have led me to financial freedom.
1. Check your bank account daily
Humans are conditioned to move towards pleasure and away from pain. So if money is painful for, you probably don’t want to spend time with it. Rip the Band-Aid off. Knowing where you spend your money is the first place to look to know where to save it.
Not only does this help figure out where you are spending money, but it also helps you to see what you may be charged for that you aren’t using. For example, I was being charged about $17 per month for an Amazon Fresh account that I had only used one time—I didn’t know it was a recurring charge. So, that was money out the window that I immediately put a stop to.
2. Leverage your emotions
If spending is emotional, use it to your advantage. Imagine a financial goal (say, paying off a credit card or saving for a vacation). Sit and visualize or write out how you will feel when you hit that goal and what you will do with it. Bonus tip: Use this strategy for your retirement savings, too.
3. Get on the positivity train
That’s right. Think about it, you likely grew up never talking about money, and when you do talk about it now, it’s most likely it is all in the negative: “I’ll never get out of debt,” “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” “I’ll never be able to afford that.” What did money ever do to you to deserve that? Go for 24 hours only saying positive things about money.
4. Recognize a want vs. a need
This sounds easy but trust me, if you want something, odds are you will justify it. If you are about to buy something, ask yourself: “If buying this means I have to give up my financial goal of xxxxx, do I still want to buy it?” If you did your emotional work around your goal, you most likely will pass on that purchase.
5. Get in alignment
Guess what? If your actions aren’t aligned with your goals, you aren’t going to hit your goals. (Check out these tips for achieving your goals.) Realize you have three options when it comes to your money: You can make more money, spend less, or both. If you want to go on a vacation but spend most of your paycheck on a car payment, you have a decision to make. Palm trees or new car smell… what’s it worth to you?
After taking in all of Firestone’s tips, I took a good, hard look at what I was spending and began cutting with a frenzy. First to go, after evaluating my account, was my mean Starbucks habit. It saved me a little more than $200 per month. I never knew someone could drink so much coffee! I also stopped relying on take-out dinners and lunches out, focusing on being a responsible adult and cooking for myself. Not only did this save me another $200 or so in take-out costs, but by planning my meals, I ended up saving another $75 or so per month at the grocery store. I moved my weekly manicure/pedicure to monthly for a pedicure and as-needed for a manicure, and moved my waxing appointments from a very upscale place to one that isn’t as luxe, but does just as great a job. These two things saved me more than $150 per month and, honestly, my eyebrows still look amazing. I also decided to reduce my nights out with friends by one, which saved me another $100 per month and I actually loved the extra time at home with the dog.
In the middle of losing some weight, I was taking some very amazing (but pricey) SoulCycle classes. Cutting back on these in favour of the free gym access I had at work saved me between $350 and $400 per month. (Check out the celebrity workouts you can do at home.)
After seeing the numbers in my bank account increase, I decided that I could do more. I cut my cable package down, decreased my data usage on my phone, nixed my pet’s subscription box, started tracking electric and oil usage in my home to see where I could cut back, and began tapping coupons and rewards programs for added cost savings.
I’m looking forward to renovating my home with the extra money—and at this point, I may be able to add a patio, too.
Next, check out the rude money habits you may be making.