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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

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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