This year, Mark and I have made it our mission to be more mindful with our money. Our main goals are to pay down debt and start saving each month. If you're interested in a more detailed look at our financial goals, you can check out this post from a few weeks ago.
Throughout January, the main thing I've learned about saving money is that your attitude and mindset have a lot to do with it. Instead of thinking "I can't save" or "it's too hard to save right now" or "I'll just do it next month," I've tried to focus instead on what I can do, realizing that even small steps in the right direction are still good steps. An even bigger help has been focusing on gratitude. Instead of sighing over what I don't have or wishing for what I don't need, I've been trying to focus on all the amazing things we do have. Counting your blessings helps you realize that you already have enough, even if society tries to get you to shop, shop, shop.
So today, I decided to share a few helpful tips that have worked for me this month.
Plan out your meals.
On Sunday evenings, I take a few minutes to think out the upcoming week's meals. I plan for us to eat one lunch (or brunch) and one supper out, with the rest of our meals eaten at home. Usually, I also try to plan a 'leftover" night in the middle of the week. This night helps us cut down on food waste and has the side perk of being a night I don't have to cook. I try to make it fun by looking up yummy Pinterest recipes to try.
Invite people over rather than going out.
Eating out can really eat up your budget. But eating at home doesn't mean you have to eat alone. Host a game night or movie night for friends. You can split the cost of the meal and enjoy good company. You get the benefit of eating out without the cost.
Unsubscribe from those sale emails.
This tip has two benefits: you clean out your inbox while simultaneously reducing those daily temptations to shop. Because who hasn't been tempted by those "scintillating offers of 40% off on top of clearance"?? Although, I'll be honest: Loft and Anthropologie get me every time.
Budget for little splurges.
One way to make budgeting and saving a little less, well, boring is to budget for splurges. Set aside an amount of money for personal use. Sometimes it's okay to #treatyoself right? One of my favorite indulgences is grabbing a coffee. So, I use the Starbucks app to determine how much money I can spend each month on coffee. I load that money on my Starbucks card and when I get to that spending threshold, I wait until next month.
Which brings me to my next point. Just wait. If you see something online or in the store that you really want, just take a breath and wait a day or two. If you still really want the item, well then maybe you should go for it. If you've forgotten about it, congrats, you just avoided a spontaneous splurge. This month has taught me that saving is kind of like exercising. If you can keep up the practice for 30 days, it'll become habit. Go a few weeks without spending, and you'll feel the urge to buy start to dwindle. You'll start to focus more on what you need rather than just what you want.