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How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Social Life

How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Social Life

It is a tale as old as time; we want to grow up, master the art of adulting and have an impressive bank account that we can turn to for everything from the mortgage to a night out without ever fearing it will be empty. But this is never as realistic of a goal as we hope.

I will never forget the first time I told my mom I wanted to move out after college and get my own place. She was incredibly supportive, but she sat me down and told me I needed to come up with my budget. “Write down what you make versus what you will be spending.”

I thought this would be an easy enough project. After all, my friends would be coming over to see my place, instantly saving me money on eating out and going on expensive adventures. But even with the unrealistic expectation of expenditures, writing down rent/mortgage, electricity and utilities, etc. it quickly became clear that I would have absolutely no money whatsoever. So I was going to have to learn to save before I was able to move out. But how was I supposed to do that? I didn’t want to give up my social life, but I also didn’t want to give up my wallet!

Don’t Panic! Here’s How You Can Keep Your Money and Your Friends.

1. Don’t order an entrée

I always wind up with leftovers when I go out, so this tip helped me save money and stop wasting food! When you go out with friends, choose appetizers or desserts as meals to cut 20-50% off the cost of your outing. This can also be fun if you’re friends do it, too. It makes eating anywhere feel like a tapas restaurant![1]

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Just be aware of the kind of restaurant you’re visiting. While most establishments are happy to take your money, some do have a minimum spending amount and even charge fees for sharing. This info can always be found on a menu or in advance via their website.

2. Drink your own booze

If you plan on going to a bar, drink at home before heading out. If you still want a drink when you get to your destination, opt for only one since bars always up the prices of alcohol. But please don’t drink and drive. This one does take some time to get used to though, as you have to practice a lot of self control. You will be tempted to order more than one drink, especially if you’re at a specialty bar. But remember what your financial goals are when that temptation strikes.

3. Break the Rules

Listen, I’m not trying to get you kicked out of your local movie theatre, but have you seen the prices on popcorn and candy?! Bring your own snacks and buy tickets online from discount sites like Swaybacks or Gift Card Granny. Additionally, some theaters offer reward programs which can add up to discounted tickets.

If you don’t want to get caught bringing in food, opt for a DIY movie night at home with your friends.

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4. Attend a concert for free (as a volunteer)

Almost any event you want to go to will need additional help. Instead of hopping online to their website for a ticket, navigate to the “Volunteers” section of the site or submit a query via the “Contact Us” option. If you need help convincing your friends, remind them that there’s a good chance of meeting the band if you’re helping set up for their show. Sure, you will have to do some manual labor and you’ll probably leave pretty sweaty, but you would’ve been anyway if you were jumping up and down with the band!

5. Shop Secondhand

While this used to be a taboo idea, it’s become a fabulous option in recent years. With stores like ThredUp and Plato’s Closet, you can get cash for your own clothes and then buy other people’s consigned pieces. I’ve found it’s a great way to trade in your out-of-season pieces for trendier options without spending big. Plus it means you have an ever-changing closet which can give the illusion of constant shopping sprees!

Keep in mind that you won’t want to use this option for designer items you have strong feelings for. While it’s a great way to get a little extra spending money, you won’t get what you “think” they’re worth.

6. Keep your closet basic

If you fill your closet with basic pieces (think layering tops and well-tailored jeans), you can have endless outfit options just by switching accessories. If you get caught up with your friends shopping plans, opt for jewelry pieces you want to invest in rather than wardrobe upgrades.

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Recently I went through my closet and separated all of my pieces into outfits. If a couple things could work in numerous ways, I sectioned those items together. This has made shopping easier and cheaper since I don’t inadvertently duplicate items I have, and it’s also helped me speed up my getting-ready-routine in the mornings. Bonus!

7. Stick to a palette

This tip goes hand-in-hand with number 6. If you keep a consistent color palette, you can rest assured knowing all of your items (even new purchases) will coordinate. For instance, pick a color range like black, white and grey and know that you’ll easily pair outfits. Don’t think this means you need to have a cartoon character wardrobe in which you have 7 of the same pants, but just keep it neutral enough that you won’t wind up with that really expensive blouse that requires entirely new pants and shoes.

8. Give thoughtful gifts, not expensive ones

While thoughtful and expensive can sometimes go hand-in-hand, it’s important to stick to gifts your loved ones will cherish rather than fancy gifts they will use once and be done with. I have started shopping for holiday gifts year-round to balance out my budget. This way if I do want to get a couple bigger ticket items, it’s less overwhelming when the holidays arrive.

I like to use this rule of thumb when shopping for others: is it clutter and will they find use for it? I was once gifted a gorgeous crystal picture frame. It was very expensive and lovely, but I had no use for such a nice piece. It became clutter and I ultimately donated it.

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9. Use (discounted) gift cards!

If you plan your outings in advance, often times you can get discounted gift cards that work just like cash from Gift Card Granny or Plastic Jungle. And hey, your friends don’t even have to know you gave the gift card to yourself! Pro-tip: you can also use this as a gift idea for your friends!

10. Create your own social events

If you have a certain skill that your friends always say they’re jealous of, like cooking or decorating, use it to your advantage. Host a day of teaching your friends how to be great at that thing and you won’t have spent a dime! It’s a free way to have a busy social calendar and also be known as the helpful friend.

Like anything in life, saving money is easiest when done with support. Let your friends know what your goals are and ask them to encourage you when you want to make poor spending choices. Looking out for your financial health is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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