Living check to check is something that's been my reality since birth. Born to a single mother who worked at a convenient store, yeah...we weren't flowing in too much extra income.
You think I would've learned my lesson as I got older, but I didn't and for awhile I was riding that struggle bus. That is until I realized I was a freaking adult and had to learn about the wonderful world of living smart when it came to money.
Some assume it's about being cheap AF, but in reality, it's all about learning how to save and living within your means. If someone like me could learn to stop living check to check, then anyone can with these simple lifestyle changes.
Manage Your Money Emotions
We are definitely a culture that feels the power of the dollar. We idolize the rich and famous, stress the rich, and we all go insane when the lottery is larger than life. First thing's first, that needs to stop.
CurlBox founder Myleik Teele told The Root, “It is important to carefully manage your emotions about money. Love and money are two topics that we typically allow to have the ‘loosest meanings’ in our lives. I like to be straightforward with the stickiest of topics. Stop looking around at who has what. The way you will feel when you aren’t late or short will always trump the small inadequacy you may have by not carrying the latest handbag.” Learning to let go of the idolization of money will help you look at money as what it actually is, a way to pay your rent and handle your necessary business.
Live Below Your Means
We're not saying that you need to pack up and move to the ghetto, we're just saying that perhaps you don’t need that brand new car right now. You can ride a bike instead. Michelle Singletary agrees. A financial columnist for
The Washington Post, she told Nerdwallet, "Live below your means. Live below your means when you don’t have much money. Live below your means when you get money." Not because you need to live "less than" those around you, but because it'll help you save to have more fun when you can actually afford to.
Don't Waste Money On Trash
Literally, if you are going to toss something away anyways like trash bags, toilet paper, and napkins then you don't need to spend a lot on them. The off brand ones do the same job as the expensive ones with the impressive label.
Cut The Fat
Many suggest that you sit and write down everything you spend money on in a month. Keep track. That way you can physically see where your money is going, and then decide where you're spending too much. It varies from person to person, but things like gym memberships that go unused and eating out are two of the main culprit's people come across when they do this. If you don’t have time to write it down, apps like
PocketGuard can help you out!
Master The Coupon
No, you do not have to go to any extremes like those people we often see on TV who have stockpiles of laundry soap in their pantry but it is wise to get your own coupon routine going. Whether it's clipping out of the Sunday paper, checking out what deals certain stores offer online, or getting something like
The Coupon App for that, you can always find a deal.
Enjoy A Home-cooked Meal
Eating out is probably the biggest money waster, ever. It's not just the food either. It's the gas to get there, leaving a tip, the gas to get home. You can just hear the dollars adding up. It's fine to dine out once in awhile. Hell, even I love to once a week (even that's a bit much) but in the end cutting it down will only add to your savings.
Pay With Cash
Have you noticed that when you pay with a card you don't care how much something costs? That's because you can't physically see the money leaving your wallet. It's all pretend until you read your bank statement and wonder where $80 went. Oh yeah, you ate out and had some drinks. Damn. Paying with cash not only lets your mind physically see what you're spending, giving you some restraint but it also gives you a limit. If you ONLY have $20 on you, well that's all you can spend. So opt to leave your card at home.
Save All Your Change
I have friends that literally do not care one bit about dropping a nickel and leaving it behind. Me? I will chase it down because um, that's still money that can go to the bank. Plus, it really adds up. It adds up even more if you opt out of paying with your card and only pay with cash. No one is ever too old for a piggy bank.
Pay Bills On Time
Hello, you don't want late charges and you definitely don't want things to pile up to the point where you simply can't afford to pay and then have to decide whether or not you want to have your phone or hot water.
Save For Emergencies
You never know when the reality is going to stab you in the back. A job could end. A medical emergency could arise. You just never know.
agrees. They believe you should start saving in an emergency fund. I do 20 percent but you can tailor it to whatever you feel works for you. Just set it aside in an account that you can't access with a card, and watch it grow. And hey, it doesn't always have to be for emergencies. You can save it for whatever you want. We just want you saving! Ebony
Plan 6 Months Ahead
Black Enterprise suggest taking a look at your realistic expenses and planning out your funds to cover those necessities for at least six months in advance. That way you know how much you can save, and how much wiggle room you have to play.