They say a penny saved is a penny earned. Over time I’ve realized this is incredibly true. For a long time I thought that I needed more money. But the truth was that I just needed to spend less and save more.
If you need money then the solution may actually be to SAVE more money.
Here are some of the ways I spent way too much money…
- $1,000/month renting my own place
- $600+ per month on restaurants/takeout
- $200+ bar tabs a few times a month
- $50-$100 bar tabs a few more times a month
- $100+ on recreational drugs each month
- $5 coffees every day
- $10 lunches every day
- $550/month car payment
- $120/month for motorcycle insurance
- $100/month average for motorcycle maintenance and related stuff
- $130/month for cable TV
There is probably more, but this is getting embarrassing.
As you can see I probably had about $2,000+ per month in unnecessary spending. I was young. I just got my first job. I thought that this is what people did.
Very soon though it started to catch up with me. I found myself needing more money. I thought the solution was to earn more. But I learned quickly that getting more money is not easy to do. So what did I do?!? I started to save more money.
This is how I went from over spending by $2,000 a month to saving over $2,000 a month!
Save More Money: Go From Spending To Saving
1. Splitting Rent
For any one right out of college this should be a basic way to save more money. While in college I lived with roommates and it was great. When I graduated I wanted to live alone. But honestly it wasn’t worth the extra $500/month I was spending each month. Having a roommate helped me save about $500/month in rent and other related expenses.
2. Cutting Cable
There aren’t many reasons to keep cable. It’s a huge expense that can easily be replaced with other forms. In my defence, when I graduated Netflix wasn’t as big as it is now, so it wasn’t an obvious choice to cut cable back then. After realizing how much it cost vs how little benefit it actually provided the cable package was an easy cut to make.
3. Skip The Crazy Bar Tabs
There were two things that were a big waste of money. Number one was not priming at home. We all graduated and we all wanted to drink at the bar like real people. That was stupid of us. Why buy $5-$10 beers when we could have the same thing for $1 at home?
Second was that we were out drinking 3-4 nights a week! Cutting back to 1-2 nights helped save 50% easily. Those bar nights were replaced with more productive activities like basketball, baseball and poker nights. Much cheaper and way healthier.
4. No More Recreational Drugs
Looking back it was clearly a mistake but there was quite a bit of money wasted on recreational drugs. There’s no real benefit in the long run. This got cut quickly. Learn to have fun while sober, you don’t need drugs to have a good time.
5. Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
Lifestyle creep is real, very, very real. Buying a motorcycle was my reward for securing a steady pay check. It was a lot of fun at first but like all lifestyle inflation it wasn’t long before that feeling wore off completely. Learn to recognize lifestyle inflation and avoid it at all costs. Unless something has a long lasting and clear benefit, don’t buy it!
6. Stop Buying Coffee
Once in the working world coffee become a necessity. Buying a coffee everyday is what most people in my office did so I did the same. This was probably costing me between $2-$5 a day on average. Getting a coffee press helped me cut out a lot of this spending. Making coffee at home with a press is super easy. Buying coffee then became a treat. Something I did once in a while with colleagues or friends as a social thing.
7. Bring A Lunch
Similar to coffees it seemed like everyone was buying lunch each day, so I did too. But at $10 a day it was insane how much money that cost me each month. Bringing my lunch 3-4 days a week saved me ~$100-$150 each month. There would still be 1-2 purchased lunches each week, I didn’t want to be anti social. But for the most part if people were getting take out then I would just eat my own lunch with them in the cafeteria.
8. Learn To Cook
Eating at restaurants is easy and fun. It’s a social thing that many people don’t want to lose. But learning to cook is a great way to be social and save money. Instead of eating out so much we had more dinner parties, potlucks and BBQs. Friends tried to out do each other with creative and delicious meals that they prepared themselves. Some of us became such good cooks that it ended up being way better than eating out.
9. Buy A Used Car
When I graduated one of the first things I did was buy a new car. I had a job so they gave me a loan easily. Looking back I’m at least thankful that I financed a car and didn’t lease a car. At least now I have a fully paid off car. But for a few years those $550 monthly payments really hurt. If I had to do it all over again I would buy a slightly used car for cash.
Need Money? Save More!
Those are a just a few examples of how I was able to go from spending $2,000 a month to saving $2,000 a month. Saving that much helped me pay off my loans and save for a downpayment. During that time my wife and I also got married so we had a wedding to pay for too. Learning to save more money was a godsend because otherwise the house/wedding would have been very different (or not even possible!).
It took me a while but I finally realized that my need for money was actually just a need to spend less and save more. Hopefully you’re in a similar situation.
Photo by tippi t via Flickr