I don’t know about you, but sunny days = spending sprees.
The sun has only been out for a few days in Seattle, and I’ve already found myself caring less and less about my savings goals. I’m tempted by dinners out on gorgeous patios, refreshing margaritas after work, and constant road trips around the West coast. But there needs to be a balance — and focusing on your money goals during summer is an awesome, achievable challenge. Here are some great places to start.
1. Check your credit score
Keeping up-to-date on your score will only take five minutes. But it’s something people often don’t check frequently (or at all). Get in the habit of checking it quarterly (monthly is better, if you make time) and evaluate how to raise it. Some good starting points: utilize a small percentage of your credit, and pay your monthly balances off in full.
2. Re-name your savings accounts
This is not a song from Les Mis — if you want to truly motivate yourself to save towards a goal, your account can’t be named “24601.” Instead, remind yourself what you’re saving for and change your account name. “Croatian Vacation, Summer 2019” or “The ‘Oh Sh*T An Emergency Happened And I Want to Make Sure I Have Money to Cover It!” are two great options. You’re less likely to remove money from the account if you’re reminded what it’s really for.
3. Negotiate one big bill
Just one. Get on the phone with stupid Verizon or Geico or Comcast and (politely) give them a piece of your mind. You literally could save hundreds of dollars a year from a 10-minute phone call. I once saved $150 just from 10 minutes of phone calls and an email (and you can, too). Here’s the exact script of what to say (or, if you don’t want that kind of on-hold torture in your life, I love Trim, the free app that does the negotiation for you).
4. Ask for a raise
You know you’ve been meaning to. You keep putting it off, wondering if it’s “the right time.” But news flash: it’s never the right time. Which means it’s always the right time! Logic! You don’t need me to tell you that, if you’re a woman, you’re probably making less money than your male counterparts. And by not negotiating your salary, you’re losing money not only now, but for the history of your earnings. Here’s the ultimate guide to prepping to ask (and guaranteeing your success).
5. Discover 3 go-to dinner recipes
“But Tori! This isn’t a financial goal!” Oh, yes it is. Having a few dinner recipes that are simple, healthy, and delicious will keep you on track for your savings goals. Try to find recipes that mimic your favorite take-out orders, so that you can indulge in that tikka masala from the comfort of your own home, without the $15 price tag. I personally love this sweet potato curry recipe that is delicious, nutritious, and cheap as hell.
6. Start (or grow) your side hustle
You’ve had that side project on your mind for ages, but haven’t done anything with it? Now is the time. You could be earning some serious cash — sometimes a few thousand dollars extra — a month by taking on a small gig a few nights/weekends. In addition to my 9-5, I work as a freelance social media consultant and do career coaching. I absolutely love what I do, and have managed to grow my side hustle into a lucrative business. This income goes straight into savings.
7. Calculate your net worth
This will literally take you 10 minutes. Tally up the worth of all your assets (savings/investments, value of big possessions like a house or car, etc.) and subtract your liabilities (debt, mostly). Voila — net worth! If this net worth is zero dollars (or in the negative), your goal is to get into the black as soon as possible.
8. Find a budgeting system that works for you
Maybe you hate Mint’s ridiculously-specific categories (I’m raising my hand). Maybe the cash-envelope-system isn’t working for ya. Budgeting will be SO MUCH EASIER TO DO when it actually makes sense for you and your financial situation, not someone else’s. Take these summer months to experiment with apps, spreadsheets, and other resources — your budget should work for you, not the other way around. My personal favorite is what I call “The Three Bucket Budget”: necessary expenses, savings, and “mad money.” That’s it, no crazy-specific categories. Maybe that’ll work for you, too! (For more info about The 3 BB, I’m currently producing a course that will explain this in more detail. Subscribe to my email list to be the first to hear about it!)
9. Sell, sell, sell
I have a pair of hardly-worn Lucky jeans, an electric guitar in a hard case and books that I won’t touch again — all perfect to sell online. Chances are, you have stuff in great shape that you know you won’t use again. Sell this stuff on Craigslist, OfferUp, PoshMark, or another site to get some quick cash. And if you don’t want to sell clothes (I personally think it’s too much effort for a shirt I paid $15 for), do a clothing swap with friends or donate to your local Goodwill.
10. Fall in love with a personal financial resource
Perhaps it’s a podcast (The Fairer Cents and Mo’ Money are two of my favorites). Or a book, or this blog, or another of the 245 billion on the Internet. Find a source of financial wisdom that you really connect with, and that provides quality advice that’s easily digestible. Make an effort to consume its content with fervor during these summer months. You’ll walk away better educated, and shocked at how much you’ve learned.
Where are you focusing your energies this summer? What money goals are you prioritizing?
Tori Dunlap is an award-winning social media marketer and entrepreneur. Founder of victori media, helping 20-somethings live life victoriously. Obsessed with finding cheap flights, reading a good book in the bathtub, and you. Follow her on Instagram here.
Image via Unsplash