Money, it’s a gas. Or, at least, it runs out as fast as gas does. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be incredibly hard to start up the nest egg you’ve been planning for years. But it’s not impossible. With a few tweaks to your daily spending habits, you’ll find you have more than just spare change in your pockets by Friday evening. If you want to save money, read on.

1. Think of hourly worth

When I was a young adult working at a summer camp, I was always amazed when most of my coworkers would come in with a fresh deli-made bagel, bottle of orange juice, and cup of coffee every morning. We only made around $10 an hour, so those that made this a daily habit had already spent the money they would make in their first hour of every workday before they even got to work.

If you want to save money, quit the impulse purchases. Every time you want to buy something, think to yourself “How much time would I need to work to pay for this?” If the amount of time absolutely appalls you, put the item back on the shelf and move on.

2. Savor things and experiences

If you add up your daily $3 Starbucks coffee habit over the course of a year, you might be shocked to realize you’re spending anywhere from $700 to $1000 yearly on a drink that lasts you twenty minutes. Your first impulse would be to stop buying the coffee altogether. But what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy yourself every once in a while? Instead of making it a habit, cut down to once or twice a week. Save your “coffee day” for the rough mornings, rather than getting it all the time because it’s what you normally do. You’ll end up enjoying every sip you take just that much more, knowing you won’t be allowing yourself to have another one until the following week.

3. Think of time off as lost money

If your boss offers overtime, take it. Chances are you just wanted to go home and relax on the couch for the evening anyway. If you make $15 an hour and get double-time for working longer hours, and your boss offers you two extra hours of work, is it really worth losing $60 to catch the Seinfeld reruns you’ve seen a hundred times? You might not have technically lost any money, but you lost potential money. It’s one thing to have missed opportunities in the past, but to disregard future opportunities that you still have the chance to take advantage of is a complete waste.

4. Spend where it matters

Money is essentially meaningless until you give it meaning. If you have a million dollars in the bank but refuse to touch it, it’s just a number on the computer. But if you have $100 in your pocket and spend it on a romantic dinner with your wife, you’ve spent $100 not just on dinner, but on making a memory that will last long after you finish dessert. A dollar might not go as far as it used to, but since you are free to do with your money as you please, make the most of every penny you earn.

5. Think of money saved as money earned

Going back to the idea of not spending habitually and splurging on unnecessary items, change the way you think of money saved. It’s one thing to say you “saved” $500 this year by not buying a donut every morning, but you could also look at it as you “earned” $500 this year by not buying a donut every morning. It might not seem like it, but didn’t it take effort to give up that sweet pick-me-up? You were working to give up the habit you had formed, and for your troubles, you earned some extra money in your pocket. Think of how much money smokers could earn if they gave up the disgusting habit! Once you earn this money by giving up something fairly inconsequential, you’ll be free to spend it on the things in your life that actually matter.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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