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How to Stop Letting Your Money Control You

How to Stop Letting Your Money Control You

    Money is a mystery to many people and when I got out of college I was no exception. I knew I made a decent wage and I could afford to live but I never seemed to have any extra at the end of the month. When a large, unexpected expense would arise, I was sent running to my parents…or to my credit card. I had no control of my money; it was controlling me.

    To control your money, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Where is my money going? Once you begin to understand where the money goes, it’s easy to track and manage it.

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    Where is my money going?

    The first step is to figure out where your money is going. All of your money goes to one of two places: fixed expenses or variable expenses. Your fixed expenses are going to be things like rent, utilities, student loans, insurance and car payments. These expenses are the same amount every month and ongoing.

    Variable expenses are everything else like groceries, restaurants, clothing and entertainment. All of these things can be planned and controlled.

    One of the best things you can do to control your money is to create a Bills Calendar. Since I use Google Calendar, I made a new calendar called “Bills” and added all of the fixed expenses for the month. (Don’t forget any yearly expenses like Amazon Prime or XBOX Live, for example.)

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    How do I control my money?

    Now that you know where your money is going, you can control your money with a budget. Yes — budget is a scary word. It was for me too.

    Start with looking over your bank statement and listing all of your expenses for a month. Similarly, if you use Mint, this becomes even easier. Make a note of the categories you’re spending money and how much you’re spending each month. It’s good to look back at least 3 months, but the longer you look back the better idea you’ll have of what you’re really spending each month.

    Next, find one of the many budget templates available online and fill it out. You won’t use every category, so just you what applies to you.

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    The biggest misconception I had about budgeting was that once I set it up, I had to live by it to the cent. A budget is a living document. It is meant to be updated and corrected until it is a true representation of what you’re spending. I review my budget every other month and make corrections as needed.

    Automate your money

    When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the idea of Billpay is scary because you never know if you’ll have the money for the payment when it’s due. Now that you control your money, Billpay can save you money and stress.

    Many bill payees (such as auto insurance and student loans) will give a small discount if you sign up for their auto payment system. In addition, if you know your fixed expenses are taken care of, you will never pay another late fee again.

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    Now that your bills are under control it’s time to pay yourself. When you’re 21, the idea of retirement is a lifetime away. You don’t see a need for savings or a 401k or anything your parents worry about. But it’s never too early to start saving.

    Pay yourself

    I look at my savings account as paying myself. Sure, I get a paycheck from my job, and I “give” a lot of it away. But I need to keep some of that money for my “future self”. I need to have money for car repairs, medical bills, or even a new computer or vacation.

    I cannot emphasize how much less stressed you’ll feel when you start paying yourself and helping out your “future self”. Take a percentage of your paycheck and put it into savings automatically. You can set up a recurring transfer with your bank to move money into savings every paycheck, or you can set it up through direct deposit with your employer if you use a different bank with a higher-interest savings account.

    (Photo credit: A Calculator and Statistics via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on June 26, 2020

    25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

    25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

    “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

    If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

    You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

    Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

    As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

    And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

    But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

    • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
      • food
      • rent/mortgage
      • cell phone
      • insurance
      • socializing/entertainment
      • transportation
      • hygiene products
      • household bills
    • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
      • travel
      • clothing
      • medication (*depends)
      • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
      • gifts

    Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

    Save Money on Food

    1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

    Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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    Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

    2. Buy the store-brand version

    Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

    3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

    Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

    4. Have group dinners

    If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

    Save Money in Transport

    5. Get a bicycle

    Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

    6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

    Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

    7. Find the cheapest gas

    Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

    Save Money in General Shopping

    8. Shop online

    Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

    9. Sell your old stuff

    Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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    Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

    10. Bulk buying stores

    For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

    Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

    11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

    You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

    12. Generic brand medication

    More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

    13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

    It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

    Cut Down on Household Expenses

    14. Printing

    Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

    e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

    Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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    15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

    A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

    16. Shop around for insurance

    Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

    Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

    17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

    If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

    18. Don’t get a TV

    Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

    19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

    My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

    Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

    20. Have house parties

    Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

    For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

    21. Open festivals, meetups and events

    It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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    22. Volunteer

    If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

    23. Housesit

    There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

    Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

    24. DIY beauty

    French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

    25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

    If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

    Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

    Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

    • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
    • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
    • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
    • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
    • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
    • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
    • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

    Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

    What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

    Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

    More Tips for Personal Finance Management

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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