The one thing I repeatedly learned in school while earning my finance degree was that saving your money is the key to financial success. It was quite interesting to have learned that most millionaires (the ones who started from the very bottom or with just a dream) live well below their means and actually don't spend money lavishly as one would expect (e.g. Mark Zuckerberg). In this day and age, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to NOT want nice things or NOT splurge on expensive goods since there are so many options out there. Just about every designer item I own was purchased by myself (while I was working part time in college) and also with the help of my saving strategies.
My first luxury item I ever purchased was the Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 Bag (which took me six months to save for but well worth it) that I still wear almost everyday. I was 18 years old, a freshman in college, a current engineering major (clearly that didn't work out lol), and also working part-time. I knew what I wanted and I did what I needed to do (like packing my lunch almost everyday of the week) to be able to save up the money for that purse. It just shows that if you really work hard for something you can indeed do it/have it.
I honestly don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a designer purse or that gorgeous pair of Céline heels...that is...as long as you can actually afford it. This is where the line usually starts to blur between saying "Oh, I have $1,000 in my account from work right now so let me buy that purse I've been wanting" vs "I've been strategically saving for this purse for months and finally have the amount I need to purchase it with no guilt"...HUGE difference. Now, if you're at the point in your life where you can walk into Saks and come out with multiple bags without blinking (or having a panic attack from the money you just spent) and have the financial means to do so....more power to you. But for the people (like myself) that currently have to plan to buy an expensive, luxury item, here are five SUPER easy money-saving tips that I have found to be very useful.
#1-KEEP ALL LOOSE CHANGE AND STORE IT IN A SET PLACE.
This is most definitely the easiest one to do out of all the five tips because it literally takes no effort on your part. Keeping the loose change that ends up at the bottom of your purse, or other mysterious areas, in a set place will allow it to start to pile up and you will be pleasantly surprised once it does. I would suggest getting either a cute piggy bank (like the adorable one in the pic above that I borrowed from my lil sis) or creating a cute "savings" jar that will motivate you to put your change in when you get the chance to help save for that item you've been wanting. Once it's full (or once you feel that you have saved a decent amount) go to your local grocery store that has one of those coin star change machines and you can trade it in for cash (most of them usually also have a small fee included, anywhere from 5-10%). Voila: instant cash and this method can also help you get out of the habit of using your debit/credit card for every single little purchase (like $1.50 gum) since it will make you more prone to using cash so you can have change leftover.
#2-PACK YOUR LUNCH TO WORK DURING THE WEEK.
Have you ever sat down and calculated the amount of money you spend on food in a month eating out? Well...I did and the number completely shocked me. Lunch (especially at work) is usually the time where your coworkers or friends want to go grab a bite at Chick-fil-a or some fast food place nearby. While $7+ for a simple combo meal may not seem like a lot of money, if you are doing this multiple times a week then it can quickly add up...not to mention if you then get takeout or go out for dinner that same night. Try packing your lunch for 1 or 2 days and see how much you save...I bet you will be really surprised. If you REALLY want to go for the gold try packing your lunch all five days (this can also of course help you lose weight as well...and bikini season is quickly approaching).
#3-SELL YOUR NEW/USED ITEMS ON SITES LIKE EBAY, ETSY, ETC.
Think about any of the items that are still in great condition that you no longer use (like a pair of shoes, a laptop, or even an old camera). You'd be really surprised by what people are willing to buy so it's definitely worth trying to sell it at a decent price (and then of course putting the extra cash into your "special savings jar" along with your loose change). Sites like eBay (my FAVE site to use to sell items) give you up to 1,000 free listings to sell your new/used items and you are only charged a small fee if the item actually sells. They also have really great protections against buyer/seller fraud just in case a transaction doesn't go as easily as you thought it would. If you're not comfortable with selling your items online then think about having a garage sale or even going to re-sale/consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange to sell the items for you (although you typically don't get a lot of cash back that way).
#4-ASK IF THERE IS A DISCOUNT OR SPECIAL GOING ON WHEN BUYING/MAKING PURCHASES.
Whether it's grocery shopping, ordering pizza, or buying a sweater from a local boutique ALWAYS ask if there is any type of discount that can be offered (like showing a student ID) or if there are any types of specials going on (buy 1 for 2, buy 2 get 3rd one for free, etc). It's amazing how saving little bits here and there can really make a big impact. I recently went to an outlet mall and went into a J. Crew Factory store and the cashier actually told me himself (otherwise I would have never known) that they had student discounts and let me use my college I.D. (even though I told him I had already graduated 3 months ago) which just goes to show that you never know what type of secret deals you can get. Remember that the worst thing they can say is "No", but you'll never know unless you take the initiative and just ask.
#5-KEEP DATES WITH YOUR BEAU OR GIRLS' NIGHT SIMPLE.
I actually really love this last tip because it allows you to really just enjoy the simple things in life and fully appreciate your friendships and significant others. Having a fun night in is a great idea if both you and your beau (or your group of girlfriends) are all trying to save up money and it can end up being more fun than actually going out. For dates, try cooking dinner together and grabbing a redbox movie that you both have been wanting to see. For girls' night, invite the girls over and buy one big bottle of wine to share and gossip over the latest celebrity news or play games that you haven't played since your early high school/college years; taboo was always one of my favorites...or try the ever so popular "Cards Against Humanity" card game that's become super popular. Don't want to spend the whole night in? Download different money saving apps (like Groupon) and find deals in your area that have deals down to 50% off the original price like "Painting with a Twist" (where you drink wine and paint) or studio movie grills that might have a dinner special for two. The opportunities are endless and it will be that much more rewarding once you see how much money you end up saving.
I hope all of these tips will be useful for you and I would love to hear about any
money-saving tips you use and what items you are currently saving up for!
money-saving tips you use and what items you are currently saving up for!