This month, I’m reducing my spending as much as I can. I have to do this because for the last three months, I spent more than I made and have had to dip into my emergency fund to make up for it. (One of the many good reasons to have an Emergency Fund friends! Although, making up for overspending is not a good reason to tap into this fund.) If I don’t get my spending under control now, I will have to rely on my credit cards to pay for my expenses.
1. I will not be going out as much.
I will be more of a homebody, so friends who read my blog, this is where I’ll disappear off to. Know that you are in my thoughts wishing you the best time doing fun activities that I won’t be a part of! Also, know that this is why I may be declining invites for meals out and such. Entertainment and socializing is a big expensive part of any single millennial’s life, and I am skipping out on the fun for now for the sake of my bigger financial goals. I do have a couple of events I’m going to that I paid for in previous months, so my social life will still be somewhat existent.
2. I will be working more.
This will achieve two things: reduce my spending because I’m occupied at work instead of out spending money, and increase my income to help me get ahead of my expenses and responsibilities again. I work full-time as a nurse so I’m hoping this month some overtime will be available for me to pick up. If not, I’ve got other sources of income I could put some sweat equity in to grow. (Life hack: Have multiple streams of income, don’t just depend on one).
3. I will be using my gift cards given to me.
Gift cards are awesome! I don’t find them impersonal at all when I receive them for special occasions. To me, it’s like receiving a gift that says, “Here, have fun on me while you’re using your cash building a real estate empire and saving up for financial independence!”
I save these gift cards for months like this. So far, I found a gift card for Starbucks, Chapters, Forever 21, a couple of spa gifts cards, and a $100 Visa gift card. That’s a great entertainment package right there!
4. I used cash only for all spending.
I put all my expenses on credit cards because I love getting cash-back at the end of the year. Last year, I made $411 from one of my cash-back credit cards that I received in November, just in time for Christmas shopping. I have never paid interest on my credit cards either because I pay them in full every week.
However, it’s also very easy to overspend on credit cards and I’ve gotten comfortable using them for everything. There also isn’t that little bit of pain and discomfort you get when you part with cash, another reason it’s easy to overspend with a credit card. So this month, I’m on cash budget. It’s one of the strategies I used to pay off $7,000 of credit card debt in 7 months, and it worked really well for me. I spent less because it’s harder to give cash away.
5. I will be on a shopping ban this month.
I’m pretty good at not shopping too much anyway because I don’t enjoy it. Besides, I have a sister who is very good at finding deals and thrifting clothes and shoes, so I usually just borrow from her to freshen up my wardrobe.
For me, a shopping ban means skipping out on the things I pay for that are really not necessary. That’s eyelash extensions, a haircut, and shellac nail polish from a fancy nail salon. I will also be taking inventory of what I already have and not buy anything from the store that I still have at home. I have tons of hotel shampoo, lotions and shower gel, and samples of skin care products. I’ll use these up before I go buy some more. It helps me spend less money and declutter my house more.
6. I will entertain myself with free or cheap activities.
Entertainment can be free or cheap. I have tons of things to keep myself entertained and busy instead of going out or paying for expensive fun activities — one of the reasons why you’ll never see me sign up for hot yoga, barre, or CrossFit memberships — it’s unnecessarily expensive!
I have a gym membership I’ve already paid for and actually use. A few months ago, I paid for a three-month trial of a yoga and meditation app. Therefore, I will be working on my fitness goals more this month because they are free activities for me. Plus becoming more fit as a result of a financial struggle is a great outcome, are you kidding me?!
And this month is also a great opportunity to get ahead on my other hobbies and talents, like writing new content for this blog or learning to play the ukulele (I bought one when I was in Fiji earlier this year).
7. I will not be drinking alcohol (unless someone gifts it to me).
Another typical expense in a single millennial’s budget! Drinking alcohol can quickly add up, especially during a night out. So I’m nixing alcohol altogether.
8. I will not be saving money for retirement or for my next real estate property.
This is temporary. I know that once I get over this hump, I will be able to free up cash to save up for retirement and my next property again. What’s important is that I prevent myself from going into debt to make it through the leaner months, and that means sacrificing my retirement and other goals savings for a short amount of time.
Feel free to borrow these strategies when you have leaner months! It’s easy to give up when it seems like you’re in way over your head — when it feels like you’ve got more expenses than income coming in and there are genuinely good reasons why you are where you are (job loss, student debt, low wages, crappy housing market, etc.).
There’s always something you can do, however, to reduce the damage, so do what you can and don’t just give in. It’s easy to give up and blame all those things outside of you, many people do this! I challenge you not to be one of those people. Do something in your favor. You’ll be way better off than someone who didn’t.
Jaymee is a Labour & Delivery Nurse by day and a personal finance blogger by night. She believes that you can create a life you love AND be financially responsible at the same time. She runs the Smart Woman Blog where she inspires millennial women to do just that.
Image via Unsplash