Reading the story of Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz and Julie Phillips, who saved $55,000 dollars in one year by choosing to buy nothing, brings back memories of when my wife and I first got married back in August of 2010.
Coming out of college was rough for both of us. Like most new college graduates, we were broke and had no money.
However, on the night of our honeymoon, we decided to make a savings goal. Our plan was have twenty thousand dollars in cash saved by August 2011. Sarah was still in school at the time, so we were going to have to accomplish this intimidating goal on the salary of an assistant manager in the retail industry.
As you can imagine, this wasn’t easy. Saving money is a lifestyle change; one that is more than anything, mentally and emotionally draining. Like Geoffrey and Julie, Sarah and I also lost friends. We also had doubts and many times wanted to quit.
However we stuck it out and reached our goal just a few days shy of the one year mark. The decision we made to save gave us a sense of security and peace of mind.
Hopefully you too will find these ten tips I learned useful as you plan to save money. They are simple and very actionable.
1. Check your pride; you will need to live minimally.
If you want to save money, you cannot be sold out to the cultural expectation of having nice things. This is because you will need to adopt a minimalist mindset if you are to be successful. Do not confuse minimalism for self-denial. I mean you don’t need a fancy car with a monthly payment. You may have to drive a beat up clunker for a while. Keep your clothing simple, no buying fancy designer outfits. Like Geoffrey, you will have to delay the pleasures of travel and consumerism.
2. Decide how much you want to save
You must have a tangible goal set. Look at your income and decide how much of it you want left your bank account at the end of the year. Geoffrey decided to save 65% of his take home pay while I decided to save 50% of mine. There is no magic number, just decide how much of your hard earned money you would like to keep. There is an alternative to being a consumer, and it is being a saver.
3. Whatever is left is your take home pay/ Allocate wisely
Say you make $3,800 after taxes a month and you want to save twenty thousand in one year like Sarah and I did, you will need to save $1,670 every month. This means that you only make $2,130 a month.
That is all you have for rent, gas, groceries, gym memberships, fun money etc. Make sure you allocate wisely.
4. Keep your rent or mortgage no more than 25% of your net income, or get a room mate
This means that your rent or house payment cannot be more than 532.50 if you use my example.
Sarah and I moved into a 350 square foot apartment for 315 a month that year. Geoffrey moved in with Julie to save money on the rent.
5. The quickest way to get a fifty percent raise is to cut your bills in half
I eliminated my gym membership fee ($60 a month) by working part time as a personal trainer at my local gym. I also cancelled my cable service ($180 a month) for Netflix ($8 a month). We also cut our grocery bill in half by sticking to simple diet foods (rice, chicken, potatoes etc.) I also biked to work, while Sarah walked to class ($200 in gas). All in all by cutting our bills in half, it was as if I received an extra $500 a month. Julie quit going out to eat all together and Geoffrey went as far as to quit getting haircuts.
6. Designate an accountability partner
Every month end, I would show my good friend Jeffery my account balance. Knowing that he was going to see my deposits was enough motivation to deter me from dipping into my savings. If my account was at $1,670 on January 31st, it had to be at $3,340 on February 28th. Geoffrey and Julie created a website and blog to let the world in on what they were doing and used this medium to keep themselves accountable
7. Save first, pay bills latter.
Saving money is all about priorities. It was my priority to pay myself first. Nothing else mattered.
8. You may lose some friends
Remember that we are social creatures and as such, your friends may not understand the commitment you are making to secure your financial future. Don’t take it personal. The same people who are now asking you why you are doing it, will eventually ask you how you did it.
9. Don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”
Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. For all you know, they may be broke or living pay check to paycheck. Be careful about being pressured to spend especially when you are around friends who make more than you do.
10. Reward your self
Every couple of months, reward yourself. Set aside up to $200 for something you may want to splurge on. This is more of a necessary mental break.
Good luck! May you be able to put away exactly the amount of money you hoped for!
Featured photo credit: Julie Phillips and Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz via finance.yahoo.com