Talking about money is tawdry, and I’ve always made it my personal goal to not broadcast how much I have. Now, this is not because I have just sooo much of it– primarily because I don’t. It’s because style should be timeless and effortless; wealth is irrelevant. Class speaks for itself. Contrary to what I thought when I was twelve, you don’t need designer brands and high-end accessories to be fabulous. It’s all about confidence, character, and a knack for eyeing classic style!
With that being said, drowning in debt can be a serious downer when it comes to living a fun and fancy free lifestyle. On the contrary, counting nickels and dimes can be just as frustrating and may turn you into the oh-so-attractive female version of Mr. Scrooge. Ergo, I’ve compiled a list of 15 tips for saving money with ease… without changing anything major about your lifestyle.
1. Make a Budget
Make an online budget through Mint or eMoney. Stick to it. I’ve been an avid user of both systems for years now (started off with Mint, which is free to use, and graduated to the more secure and investment savvy eMoney). You set and analyze savings goals, credit card balances, home loans– you name it. You can even sign up for notifications when you’re approaching, or after you’ve exceeded, your budgeted amount in any given spending category. They both also have mobile apps, so you can carry your monetary reminders with you wherever you go.There really isn’t any excuse for not using an online budgeting system. If you’re spending too much, you immediately need to cut your costs via budgetary measures; subsequent changes must be made if you ever hope to progress towards financial freedom.
This has been the biggest financial obstacle for me. At this point in my life, I’m 25, and I only have one more year of eligibility as a competitor in the Miss USA Organization. All of my efforts, both mentally and financially, need to be directed towards that Miss FL USA crown… not traveling across the country or going shopping every weekend. Lord knows this is an expensive hobby, so I have to remind myself of imminent future expenses lurking in the distance and save accordingly.
If your goal is to save, travel, attend as many galas as possible, donate or tithe a certain percentage of your income, you name it… make sure only ONE is your primary focus. All other objectives need to be viewed and treated as secondary, at least until you receive that massive raise and/or find your rich husband.
3. Cash Is King
Pay for as much as you can in cash. This is key for extreme money saving strategics, and it’s straight from the mouths of key financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and my bosses (cause I really do consider them the smartest financial guys I know). Nothing puts the halt on your purse strings faster than physically watching your stash of money deplete, and with credit cards now a days, you so quickly lose track of what, how frequent, and how much you spend. Trust me, that $5 drink at Starbucks will look a whole lot less appealing when you realize you only have a $10 left in your wallet, and you still need gas to get home and food to eat when you get there.
4. Sell Your Old Stuff
If you’re ever in a pecuniary pickle, consider selling your new or gently-used clothes, makeup, electronics, books, etc. on eBay or Half.com. You can set a low Buy It Now option and have your item sold in hours… and trust me, you’d be surprised what people are willing to buy.
I’ve also sold a few electronics through Gazelle. They pre-pay your shipping and have a check or direct deposit to you within days. I’d go with eBay first, just because the pricing is more competitive, but if you have any issues selling electronics online, Gazelle is a good backup.
5. You Gotta Have Coups
Download the RetailMeNot app for daily coupons and discount codes. I’ve found myself purposely avoiding stores (cough*Kohl’s*cough) now until I have a coupon code… but you know what? I’m saving TONS of money. You see how regularly different retail stores offer discounts, and it makes you literally unwilling to pay full price. Another key example? Never ever pay full price for clothing at Express. It’s 100% guaranteed that some discount is going on somewhere on the internet, and Lord knows the store clerk won’t mention anything about it to you. You can even set store favorites, and the app will notify you whenever a new promotional code is detected. To put it bluntly, this app is freakin’ awesome. Download it NOW.
6. Consider Consignment
Visit Consignment Stores. Plato’s Closet is the perfect example. Not only will they pay you for your gently-used clothes and accessories, but they have some adorable and impressively relevant stuff for purchase, too.
7. Rent the Runway
Rent the runway through Rent the Runway. Unexpected wardrobe expenses can completely kill my entire month’s clothing budget. Unfortunately, as a pageant queen, I regularly attend formal galas and events, and call it cliche, but I can’t wear the same outfit within a given period of time, and a girl only has so many formal gowns. As a titleholder, or local philanthropist or model or excited attendee, you always want to look your best, and with my modest salary, everything high-end is typically completely out of my price range, which is depressing. Instead of purchasing a new $xx-hundred dollar outfit for each evening, I use Rent the Runway.
Never heard of it? It’s a community designed to fill the needs of every day fabulous women– women who love high fashion and want to experiment with new upscale brands– without the anxiety of investing in piece after piece. Users benefit from the expertise of professional stylists and the shared wisdom of like-minded fashion-forward members through user reviews and photographs. Through their exclusive relationship with top designers, Rent the Runway is able to continually update its stock with the latest pieces, so you’re literally able to rent the runway for a fraction of the cost.
My BFF, S, is a local philanthropist making her impressive mark in Washington D.C., and she is the culprit who got me hooked this site. As a nightly attendee at a different cocktail hour or formal dinner every night, Rent the Runway continually saves her butt and her budget on the reg. Oh, and did I mention you get $25 off your first rental? Pretty awesome. Rent away!
8. Google It
Google the desired product name. Nothing ensure you’re getting the best deal more than an old-fashioned Google search. It will give you a basic grid of available purchasing options, displaying obvious discrepancies in cost for the same item amongst different vendors. Do your research, and make sure Google doesn’t have any more competitive offers on the table before you buy.
9. Get Paid to Shop
Sign up for sites that offer money back for purchasing through them, like Ebates or FatWallet. They’re free to sign up, and the steps are simple: log in, pick a store or coupon, and get cash back on every purchase! You can set preferences for favorite stores to experience the easiest form of online shopping and completely customized deals. I’m adamant about using Ebates this Christmas; my BFF, Ashley Brooke, swears by this easy online money saver, and I won’t be caught dead in Millenia Mall after Thanksgiving! I’m too big of a fan of personal space.
10. Check in with Craig
Don’t knock Craig’s List. Look, I love Lifetime just as much as the next girl, but conducting business through Craig’s List doesn’t have to result in sexual assault. Sell your stuff, respond to talent ads, place a personal ad (go getcha some), the sky’s the limit– just make sure you’re verifying the credibility of the other party and ALWAYS bring somebody with you if you’re meeting to exchange goods and/or receive payment in person.
11. Abandon Cart
When shopping online, abandon your shopping cart for a day or two. Stores get antsy and most likely will start emailing you discount codes and incentives for purchase. Just make sure it’s something you don’t absolutely need in the immediate future; the possibility of items selling out is a scenario I’ve been plagued with several times when exercising this game plan.
For bigger purchases, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you’re not a barterer, bring someone with you who is. Let them do the talking. My bosses have literally perfected the art of extreme negotiation, and from here on out, I will not purchase anything in 4-digit territory without them speaking to the associate beforehand. I recently witnessed them schmooze their way into buying major office equipment at cost, saving tens of thousands of dollars on multiple machines, and although I don’t possess these same skills, I’ll never accept a high price as a final offer ever again.
13. Shop Your Own Closet
Sort through your closet often. Most times I resort to buying new things because I feel like I have nothing to wear. My walk-in closet begs to differ, and when I actually take the time to see what I forgot I already own, my desire to spend money usually disintegrates. Basic closet maintenance is a factor, too, so be sure you’re clearing out what you don’t wear at least once a year. After all, how will you remind yourself about that gorgeous gown when it’s sandwiched in between 10 dresses you admit you’ll never wear again? Answer: Not gonna happen.
14. Keep Those Receipts
Always keep tags and receipts. Sure, I fall victim to my own compulsive shopping habits all the time, and it’s taken me a while, but I can finally bring myself to return things when my emotions get the best of me. Hence, I keep all receipts and tags until I’m 100% committed to wearing an article.
15. Subscribe to Newsletters
Sign up for your favorite stores’ newsletters. There’s no better way to be notified in advance of deals, steals, and sales than to receive upcoming news from the sources themselves. That way, you can budget and prioritize accordingly. Win-Win.
So that’s that! How do you save? Any other tips for saving money I should know about? A girl can never have a big enough savings account! Oh, and if you need to save a little extra for the upcoming holiday season, check out these 5 easy ways to save around Christmastime. Have a fabulous weekend, y’all!