Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal in 1951, “To learn that money makes life smooth in some ways, and to feel how tight and threadbare life is if you have too little. To despise money, which is a farce, mere paper, and to hate what you have to do for it, and yet to long to have it in order to be free from slaving for it.” Yet twenty first century readers still have quite the same bittersweet relationship with these green notes. Can’t live without it, don’t want to be enslaved to it. Mostly people would like to be rich, so that they are free to do what they want with their lives. Travel, follow their passion unrestrictedly, spend time with family or read, write and recreate. But the bills have to be paid, savings have to be made and an umpteen number of payments have to made, which ensure that we keep our noses to the grindstone.
Most people believe that if they had more money their problems would disappear. Now I don’t want to reiterate clichés here like money can’t buy happiness. Gabrielle Solis from Desperate Housewives said, “That’s just something we tell poor people so they won’t revolt.” Sure it can, at least some of it. But money can never be the only source of your happiness. Jim Carrey, who we can all agree has pots of money, said, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.” I myself have met plenty of rich people who complain of not having enough money or are constantly seeking ways to making more money. So spend money wisely, but don’t be ruled by it. Read this article for effective tips on money management in your daily life. Above all, follow your passion and be happy. Money will come and go, life certainly won’t.
10. Trippin’ On Transportation
Fuel costs have become extraordinarily high. Cars are expensive to maintain. Their insurance costs a fortune. Roads are chock a block with traffic. Yet even teenagers are granted their own vehicles. Having a nice car is a status symbol to reckon with, not to mention convenient beyond dreams. Be damned that this dream is costing you your pension fund. Not only that, you are eroding away the environment which is your legacy to the future generation. Instead opt for fun substitutes like carpooling, public transport and the failsafe walking. You get to make tons of new friends when you carpool with friends or colleagues. Public Transport can be an incredibly liberating way of exploring a city and getting to see it from new perspectives. But not as liberating as when you are walking or biking to work. Apart from saving money, this method also ensures that you are going to be at the fittest best of your life. Saving money on that gym membership by default, I see.
9. Reuse Repurpose Recycle
My friend Mark initially resorted to restoring thrifted furniture to renovate the guest bedroom of his house on a modest budget. But that was a gateway for further addiction. Now his house consists of beautifully curated and repurposed clever finds from garage sales, thrift stores and little known vintage shops. Even though he renovates all year round, there is nary a dent on the pocket. Be it giving your house a makeover, creatively recycling objects in the kitchen or bathroom or for storage, making use of leftover objects in the garage and lawn, etc, you could try adopting this method to save yourself some serious cash. Not only is it financially sound, but it can get really addictive. There are innumerable blogs on the internet that beautifully detail how to maximise every object around the house and garden. Start with Pinterest and then travel wherever the internet will take you. Apart from saving oodles of money, this technique is also incredibly environment friendly.
8. Eat At Home
The way eating out and fine dining has been glamourized in today’s world, I wouldn’t blame you if you felt incredibly lame eating in night after night. But if the feel of crisp green notes in your pocket makes you feel good, then this is a small sacrifice you’d have to make. And you’ll be better off for it. Your bank balance and your body will thank you for it. If you are accustomed to eating out even twice or thrice weekly, then try this experiment. Eat out as per your schedule one week. Keep the invoices from your check. Next week, religiously cook at home and eat in. Compare the invoices with your grocery shopping list to see how much you saved. Chances are your grocery bill for the week is less than the price of one single meal you ate out. Now go buy yourself something pretty with the money you saved once you have solemnly sworn to eat in no matter what.
7. Travel Station
Exotic locations abroad are top priority in your travel list, but have you explored the fantastic weekend getaways that are right next to your home state? The world is full of wonderful places to see. Contrary to what Fox Traveller will tell you, not getting to see London Paris or New York is not the end of the world. Expensive European and Caribbean vacations can wait. Hop on the train to explore nooks and corners of your own country that has previously eluded you or drive down the fantastic American highways to a choosy destination. American highways are quite simply the best in the world. Such a shame to not take advantage of them. Take the Phil Dunphy route and hire an RV to have a memorable vacay with your family, the memory of which you will cherish for decades to come. The good thing about all of the above options? You can experience all the joys of travel without spending a bomb on flight tickets and custom duties.
6. Buy What You Need, Not What You Want
The moment you see a Sale sign, run. Given our inbuilt shopping instincts and hyper materialism of the twenty first century, it is best not to trust our will power. You think you are saving money when you crack your credit card at the sales, but actually you are losing so much more. It is better to strictly buy what you need at normal store price than to veg out your savings during sales. Set aside money from your monthly budget to splurge on end of season sales, but do not give in to impulse buys. If something on a shop window attracts you terrifically, ask yourself how different your life would be without that product in it? If the answer is not very, then you can afford to skip it. The extra weight on your wallet will make you feel very proud of your self-control.
5. Do Your Own Taxes
The internet is a magic place. And this magic was not available to people even a generation back. So take full advantage of the era you live in and don’t dish out hard earned money for services you could easily do yourself. File your taxes in plenty of time so you don’t have to rush in last minute. There are a million easy and free software’s that will assist you in every financial nitty gritty that you might need help in. You can also google tips on how to go about doing it. Expert blogs are dime a dozen too.
4. Supermarket Do’s And Don’ts
Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Like never. Your hunger impulses with drown out the sound logic of your brain, and before you know it, you are saddled with a bill that’s running hundreds of dollars. Resist your impulses to pick up the attractive knick knacks that line the cash counter. They are overpriced and put there for exactly that purpose. Stick to the outer aisles, the inner aisles have all the wicked stuff that that will tempt your soul and your wallet into blackness. Make a thorough shopping list before you go the supermarket and stick to it. Resist from deviating, no matter how strong the desire. Buy things in bulk. Its cheaper that way and also saves you a ton of effort.
When buying electrical goods, check out their power consumption potential and buy the lowest ones possible. Buy LED lights. Make it a habit to shut off fan, lights and other switches when you are exiting a room. Opt for a cooler instead of an air conditioner. Apart from being horrible for the environment, they are very expensive to purchase and run up power bills that can seriously burn a hole in your earnings. Observe Earth Day once a week, that is for one hour shut off all switches once a week. A Television is superfluous. You can get cable on your laptop, and it is more convenient that way too.
2. Rainy Day Emergency Fund
Devote at least a part of your savings towards setting up an emergency fund. Life is unpredictable, to say the least. Emergencies of all kinds can occur in the blink of an eye. You will be glad to have this cushion to fall back on, rather than opting for all sorts of ultra-expensive loans and payment methods. Be it a repair emergency or a hospital visit, you can live and breathe easy knowing that you will be taken care of.
1. Make A Budget (And Stick To It)
I am not asking you to live like a monk. Far from it, take into stock all the entertainments necessary for you to live a happy life. Be reasonable, but don’t be too sacrificing. Then draw up a reasonable budget that you think will facilitate your lifestyle. Categorize this budget into expenses like travel, food, bills, shopping, etc. Keep a little room for adjustment. Then lock that in. No matter what, do not deviate from this pattern. The rest of your earnings you put in a savings bond, invest carefully in stock market or make worthwhile purchases that will double your money in the years to come. It is crucial to stick to the budget. It will be hard at the beginning, but soon you will become a pro at ignoring the nagging voice in your head which tells you to remain only in your comfort zone. A few months of practicing these stellar habits and you won’t have to stress about money in your life at all.