Ours is a world of temptation. Whether it’s the Starbucks on every corner or the ease of purchasing off iTunes, we have every convenience at our fingertips.
Spending is basically what our society is built upon, but so are big dreams. So how do we make the two work together? Well, unfortunately for your coffee addiction and binge watching of The Sopranos (RIP Tony), saving and budgeting have a lot to do with it.
We’ve rounded up some strategies to help you save and invest your money. Let’s start with saving first:
Get Personal With Your Money’s Value
I first started saving money to go backpacking. I got it in my head that every $10 I didn’t spend, was one night’s accommodation (yes – in a bunk bed, in a hostel, with 17 other people, but accommodation non-the-less). In that mental space, I forced myself to constantly choose between another day of travelling, or whatever $10 item I didn’t need that happened to be in my hand. If the money you’re trying to save enables you to fulfill a dream, find ways to relate the two. This will keep you focused.
Use Cash, Not Plastic
Using plastic burns through money, not literally of course, but very close. Buy the things you need with the money you’ve allocated for yourself rather than being whimsical with your credit and debit cards. Seeing your money physically disappear before your eyes makes it easier to stay on budget, so you don’t end up with an overdraft at the end of the month.
Check Your Bank Fees
Speaking of overdraft, is it necessary? No. In most cases banks “sell” add ons to your basic banking needs in order to make a wee bit more money off of you. Talk to your financial institution and make some cutbacks. Don’t spend money that doesn’t actually exist and get dinged with extra fees each month.
Pick the Right Credit Card
Credit cards are a necessary evil for most people, but make sure you are getting the best possible deal. Can’t pay off every bill right away? Get the card with low interest rates and no yearly fee, not the expensive one that gets you flight points. Set up your online banking to make automatic payments on the due date so that you don’t end up paying interest, or worse: getting a call from your credit card company during an intimate candlelit dinner (hello mood killer).
Use a Budgeting App
These days, we have way more options than Excel to track our budgets. There are some great budgeting apps out there. They will let you know if you are on track financially, and how much you will (hopefully) have left over to save.
One of my favourites is Mint, for its very clean design and easy to follow tracking. You set it up to link to your bank account so it’s brutally accurate. Which is good; it’s time to face the music.
Adjust Your Spending
Once you’ve set up your budgeting app, you’ll see where your money is going, and where you can cut back. If dining out is costing you too much, get inspired by some new recipes and host dinner parties to save a buck or two. When you do need to go out, choose options that are more budget friendly (or eat a bit first at home and eat a lighter aka cheaper meal while out). Instead of going to an expensive event, get outside and explore.
You’ve Saved Money, Now What?
Now comes the fun bit: it’s time to make money off of the money you’ve saved. Even if it’s a small amount, understanding investing will help you out down the line, so get practicing.
Rather than jumping in headfirst, take your time to actually learn what investing is all about. It’s not all a Martin Scorsese movie, (trust me, I’ve tried). Find out if your local college or university offers any intro to personal finance courses. Bonus: They’re a great place to network.
Another option is the Learn app. It’s kind of like Duolingo, but for investing. It starts with the basics and then teaches you more detailed stuff as you start to get it.
Once you think you’ve gotten the gist of just “what” investing is, practice the “how.” There are a variety of real time investment games you can purchase in the App store to get you going. Try out Best Brokers to see how you do. Remember, it’s not a fast game, so patience is key.
The Big League
All three are expanding into a variety of countries and offer 24 hour access to what is happening with your investments. And the best part? They offer low or zero fees on each trade you make, so you’re saving more money!
So there you have it. You won’t be eating ramen forever, so start making moves now for your financial future. You’ll meet some cool people on the way and add some more skills to that personal brand of yours. It can be daunting at first, but you? Yeah,sa you can do it.
Looking for more tips on adulting? Check our our strategies for seeming more successful.