Ever since I was a young age, I’ve been very conscious about money. I’ve always been a saver. So sometimes when I hear coworkers, friends, or even people on the train talking about how they make money yet have to live paycheck to paycheck, I ask them some simple questions and give some pointers that I have found helpful in my life.
1. Do you eat out often?
Now I was very guilty of this one until recently. I hate cooking, and so does my fiancé, so we would go out at least 3 times a week to a restaurant or even fast food. But my fiancé, who makes more than I do, still couldn’t figure out why he had no money. He forgot that the coffee he buys with the breakfast sandwich every day and going out to lunch with the boys almost every day adds up too.
Try bringing in your lunch if you don’t already. Brew your coffee at home instead of buying it every day. Limit yourself on how many times you go out or if you do, eat only half of what you order so you can take the rest home and make another meal out of it.
2. Do you go out often?
My co-worker, couldn’t understand why she was broke. She only went out to the bars on weekends. And was where the problem lay. For many people, going out on the weekends entails dinner and drinks at several bars. If you live in the city, bar drink tabs add up very quickly. And if your friend is with you that doesn’t have a job, you’d be lying if you’ve never picked up their tab too out of guilt.
Give yourself a going out budget for the week. If you spend all of it on Friday night, discipline yourself to not spend more on Saturday night. And regarding the jobless friend? I would say if they are at a bar, they are adult enough to pay their own tab. A birthday drink is one thing. A pity drink is another.
3. Do you shop often?
Shopping, in general terms, can be a mood lifter. The act of getting things can make one feel better. However if it is the emotional reaction of purchasing something that you are seeking, then you will start to notice that your things start accumulating while your bank account shrinks.
The next time you need a mood lift, trying going for a long walk. Or if you do find yourself at the mall ask yourself, in all seriousness, if you want the item versus you need the item. Do you need a new pair of jeans because you ripped your old ones, or because this style is in right now and you were just begging for a reason to get new ones. If you start limiting yourself to fewer want purchases, then not only will you have more money for the need purchases, you should have more money in general.
Although these may seem like simple, silly, common sense changes, you would be surprised at how many people with “no money” will probably fall into one or more of the above categories. It is a work in progress and good habits need to be developed and encouraged, and don’t happen overnight. But I’m sure if you start bringing your lunch, cooking in more often, and limiting the shopping sprees, your bank account ( and your sanity ) will thank you.