I’ll never forget my first “big girl” paycheck. Well for starters, because it was only about six months ago. But also because it’s when “treat yourself” started to jokingly become my mantra. Up until then, I had lived like your typical broke college student. I couldn’t remember the last time I had gotten a pedicure nevertheless the last time my gas tank was completely filled. The purse I had bought on clearance two years ago was starting to fall apart at the seams and the bottom soles of my only pair of boots were too damaged to even wear anymore. For over four years I had promised myself “when I get a job, I am going to get….”. At one point I actually had an ongoing list of all the things I desperately “needed” or things I had gone without for so long. So it was easy to cash that first paycheck and take a trip to the mall with some of it.
Now I will say that I was smart and I did put the rest of that paycheck into my savings, a good habit that I have since stuck with. But that isn’t to say that in the beginning, I did not start to spend money like I was a Kardashian. Suddenly, we needed cute new towels to match our shower curtain and one of those fancy stamps with our address on it. I even had a hair stylist pressure me into buying a $30 conditioner at the salon (still a little mad at myself for this because quite frankly the conditioner sucked). “Treat yo self” was becoming a lifestyle for me instead of an occasional and well-deserved treat. To me, I felt like I did deserve it though. I’m getting up and going to work every morning, I don’t have kids, and I don’t have a mortgage…so why not? I remember thinking. And in a way, I did have a point. I was at a time in my life where I technically could treat myself a little, but that didn’t mean it needed to become a daily habit.
As I talked to some of my older friends, I noticed that altough we now had similar lifestyles, they weren’t rushing to the nail salon every time their gel manicure started to chip. Instead, they were saving their money. SAVE, a term that was never really mentioned during my college years because at 19-22 years old it’s pretty hard to think of putting money into a savings account when you’re just happy that your checking account isn’t in the negative.
I quickly started to realize that just because I had a little more money than I was used to, didn’t mean I needed to “make it rain” every chance I had. Instead, I could do something that my future self would thank me for. I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast one day when he said something that really put things into perspective for me. Dave explained that people over-spend simply because they are uncomfortable with having money. Many of us are used to being broke, that we don’t know what to do with ourselves when we do have money. He was right. Sure, it felt good to get new things that I had been wanting for such a long time, but I knew that this was actually the perfect time in my life to give my savings accounts a little T.L.C.
Here are five tips that have helped me with saving money.
- The 3 day rule. This one can take some getting used to and is sometimes a struggle for me. I had read an article that said that the trick to saving money and not splurging on unnecessary items was to simply wait three days before you purchased it. So basically any time I see a super cute mug in Target or a pretty shade of lipstick at Ulta, I have to tell myself to wait and come back in three days. If in three days I still must have that unnecessary mug or overpriced lipstick, then I can simply go back and buy it guilt-free. What I’ve learned is that there are A LOT of things I can definitely go without. By the time it hits day 3, I’m either impatiently waiting to make that trip back to the store or I have totally forgotten about whatever it was that I had wanted.
- Don’t even tempt yourself. This has probably been the easiest tip for me to follow. Instead of letting my entire paycheck chill in my checking account, where I am reminded by a text from my bank every morning of exactly how much I have in it, I slide most of that paycheck (after my bills are paid of course) right into my savings accounts. Two things happen when you do this. 1.) You think you have a lot less spending money. 2.) You feel really good when you see your savings accounts growing. I even go one step further and sometimes take whatever is left in my checking account the night before pay day and put it into my savings.
- Unsubscribe from advertisement emails. You don’t realize how often you subscribe to store and restaurant emails, until you begin to notice that you get more emails from Bath and Body Works than you do from actual people. My inbox had basically become a landfill for businesses to dump their “special offers” and “sales” into. I downloaded an app called Unroll Me and it easily unsubscribed me from any of those types of emails. I can’t buy 6 hand-soaps for $25 if I don’t even know that there’s a sale going on.
- Shop with your significant other. I can do some real damage by myself in a T.J. Maxx for an hour. But when I have my boyfriend with me (who luckily hates shopping), I’m way less tempted to spend hours mindlessly roaming around the aisles for things that I could seriously go without. He will also tell me when I don’t need something, which can be annoying in that moment but ultimately really helpful when I later realize that he was right.
- Next step….the Acorn app. I just downloaded this app last night and I haven’t sat down and set it up yet. Basically Acorn is an app that connects to your bank account puts the “change” you get from purchases that you make and puts into into your savings for you automatically. Talk about effortless saving. I’ve heard some really good things about this app so I am excited to try it.