Whether you love it or hate, it’s fact that money makes the modern day world go round. Before coin and paper money existed, people had to rely on a coincidence of wants, meaning I had to think my four chickens were equal value to your one cow. In the modern age, it would be next to impossible to barter a shirt in exchange for a burger, or purse for an hour dance class. Value is relative to the person who owns the good or who is providing the service, and, let’s be honest, we can’t even agree on trivial matters (cats vs. dogs, how to pronounce pecan, coke vs. Pepsi, what color a dress is….)
Money is a great invention that streamlines transactions and makes society efficient, but it is also a source of stress, anxiety, and unwanted hair loss that only causes more stress and anxiety.
The words frugal, cheap, skinflint, etc. have been used to describe my spending habits. I prefer the words resourceful, thrift, and savvey. Financially, I feel successful for my age. I have a retirement account, savings account, a couple of investments, and solid checkings account. I am almost completely financially independent apart from my $50/month phone bill and occasional cards with comic strips and a $20 (thanks mom and dad!)
Over my adult life, I have fine-tuned my art of saving as I’ve discovered where to splurge and where to save. Here are some simple tips that can save you $6,000 a year!
You don’t have to be Rachel Ray to get food on the table. I’m here to tell you that you are 100% capable of making rice, cooking chicken in the oven, and steaming vegetables. If you can tie your shoes and wash your hair, you can boil water, use a microwave, and heat up a skillet.
Getting coffee and a breakfast sandwich every morning is around $5. That’s $150 a month! Buying eggs, spinach and bread and brewing your own coffee is around $1.50 a day, meaning waking up 10 minutes early will save you over $100 a month… that’s $1,200 a year!
Set time aside every week to go to a cheaper grocery store. I am a die hard Trader Joes gal myself. Spinach and kale are only $1.99 a bag, you can get four frozen turkey burgers for $2.99, a dozen eggs is $.99, frozen brussel sprouts (my current obsession) are $.99, and the list of deals can go on and on. TJs also has a great frozen meal options including super food pilaf, burritos, and cheap frozen pizza. Heating up the $2 frozen burrito over going to chipotle saves you a quick $8, which puts you $64 ahead a month if you get chipotle (or something similar) twice a week.
TIP! Pay for a reusable grocery bag. Nothing is worse then trekking through the subway and having your bag break.
If you pack lunch a mere twice a week and make your own breakfast, that comes to almost $2,000 saved a year. Not to mention, you can make healthier choices which will make your body feel better and increase your mood, energy, and productivity which could in turn result in earning more money.
BONUS TIP: When weighing up jobs, consider whether or not they will feed you. Many promo gigs, waitressing jobs, and catering events will include a meal. I always sneak in some Tupperware in my backpack because more often than not they will throw the food away at the end anyways.
SPLURGE ALERT: pay for decent Tupperware, $20 for a good set it well worth it.
2. Public Transit
You’ve been up since 6am, and now it’s dark, cold, and rainy. The last thing you want to do is take the 45 minute trek home on the subway. Just do it. Innocent cab rides that are “Just for tonight” WILL become a habit. Before you know it, you’ve spent over $200 a month on cabs for rides that probably would have been equally as long on the subway. That’s another $2400 in savings per year. If I take a cab, I always ask myself, “how many hours of work will this cost?”
SPLURGE ALERT: invest in a good book or fun app to make the subway go by faster.
3. Going out with friends
This is by far the biggest pocket drain. You’ve been working all week and just want to have some fun. But in a city on a Friday night, drinks will set you back at least $10 per beverage and an entrée will be another $15 on top of that. Let’s be real, you’ll have at least two drinks and you’re table will also split the guacamole. Before you know you, you’ve dropped $75.
Allow yourself to have fun and see friends. It’ll make you FAR happier and will give you something to look forward to. But you can be smart about it.
Here are four ideas that can be under $25 if you are smart about it!
Option 1: Instead of going out to dinner AND drinks on the weekend, suggest eating before and meeting at a bar. You can always get that infamous $1 pizza if need be.
Option 2: Instead of going out on the weekend, go out for a happy hour during the week. You can easily find a $5 wine with $6 apps. Suggest splitting a few things and eat a snack before hand so you don’t blow $15 on Pad Thai. Check out our review of Carroll Place and Black Ant if you need some recommendations!
Option 4: Suggest a movie or game night in. The whole point is to be with friends, right? So get frozen apps from TJs and tell everyone to bring chips or wine.
By swapping out a weekly $75 outing to an equally fun $25 or less experience, you can save $50 a week, which adds up to $2,400 a year!
4. Clothes and “things”
Don’t buy things you don’t need. Plain and simple. That new purse might be a tempting reward after your paycheck finally shows up, but don’t do it. I normally have a three day rule. If I see something I really like, and I’m still thinking about it three days later, I get it.
SPLURGE ALERT: There are some things that you should spend a bit more on. Get a professional interview ensemble, a good audition outfit, and sturdy shoes. All will serve you well, and it’s worth dropping a little extra cash.
Other ways to save
- Consider free food, free gym membership, etc. when picking your survival job.
- Be on the lookout for free events and take some time to do the research (facebook events is a great place to start).
- There’s no shame in going to Dollar General for those little expenses that add up like tooth paste, soap, and sponges. In NYC, Lot Less and Jacks are great discount stores I frequently visit.
- Order toiletries and health items online. You might as well hand over you first child if you shop at Duane Read.
Saving in those four major categories will help your wallet tremendously. Once you take out the avoidable spending, you can redirect you funds towards things that are important to you.
Here are the things I spend extra on:
- Dance classes: I live in NY to pursue dance, so I prioritize taking class (even if rates have gone up to $22).
- An occasional nice meal: I love living in a city with great food, and I want to take advantage of it. Every now and then I DO drop $75 on a great brunch because it is something I can look forward too and something I love.
- Aluminum Foil, name brand paper towels, and toilet paper: they do actually last twice as long as cheaper knock offs.
- Quality makeup that won’t irritate my skin and that will work for the stage or street.
- Sparkling water: Is it stupid to pay $5 a week for sparkling water? Yes. That $260 a year. BUT. I love it.
These simple changes can save you $6,000 year!
As always, stay frugal.
How do YOU save? Comment with your favorite tips and tricks!