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When it comes to saving money, people always tell you the same thing. They suggest not eating in restaurants, using public transportation instead of your car, and cancelling your satellite or cable service. But, what if you absolutely love watching HBO every night after work, or look forward to going out for lunch with your co-workers? If these things make you happy, should you really have to cut them out completely? The majority of people have such negative views on saving because they’re denying themselves the things they love. I’m here to tell you that there’s more than one way to save and you can do so while still enjoying the items and activities you love. As frustrating as saving might seem, you can make the process a lot easier by shaping your savings plan around you and your interests. This way, you can spend money on things you love and therefore prioritize, while saving on the less important things.
What Do You Love?
Make a list of your expenses in order of significance, meaning the most important items on the top and the least on the bottom. The purpose of this exercise is to visualize what you will be spending the majority of your money on. For instance, I placed rent, satellite TV, and restaurants as my top expenses. However, my healthy co-worker Caitlin places importance on rent, a gym membership, and groceries. As you can see, she would rather spend her money on the gym and groceries because she prioritizes waking up early to prepare healthy snacks. Contrarily, I prioritize sleeping in, watching HBO and eating out. Caitlin spends less money on food because she prioritizes being healthy and spends more money on a gym membership, while I spend more money on food and paying for satellite TV. Both situations presented are suitable and promote saving, they’re just different. With a budget in mind and a certain amount being saved a month, spend your money according to your list.
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Everybody has their own personal significant expenses to cover because we’re all unique individuals with different wants and needs. As long as you stick to your list, your savings should be consistent. However, if you’re a careless spender and decide to spend more than you planned, prepare for inconsistent savings.
For instance, if I suddenly decide to work on my health and join a gym, that’s okay, as long as I remove something from my list. I can’t pay for a gym membership, restaurants, rent, and satellite TV because I would be spending more than I can or even want on unnecessary expenses. Here comes the hard part, compromising and deciding what is more important for you. I could pay for a gym membership, restaurants, and rent, but I would have to cancel the satellite TV. Similarly, I could also pay for a gym membership, restaurants, and satellite TV, but I would have to live with a friend or at my parent’s house because I couldn’t afford my rent anymore (and who wants that?). Thus, there are infinite numbers of ways to save; it just depends on your priorities.
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Small But Frequent Spending
Looking away from the bigger expenses for a moment, it’s also important to keep track of your smaller, inexpensive purchases because they can quickly add up. I suggest also making a list to prioritize the more frequent but less expensive items. This will ensure you don’t go over your budget and have to make even more compromises. Personally, the majority of my smaller purchases are beer, parking, and cigarettes. This is because I hate using public transportation and there’s nothing better than a cold beer after a long day of work. These are small, daily (or weekly) expenses that actually consume a large portion of my income. On the contrary, my co-worker Caitlin spends her money on coffees, makeup, and candy. She would rather take the bus to work and use the money that she would have spent on parking, on makeup. At the end of the day, we both spend the same amount of money on small unnecessary purchases, we just have different priorities. Due to the ones I emphasize as important, I can’t spend money on makeup or coffee because I wouldn’t be compromising anymore. So, think about what you can and can’t live without and construct an accurate, honest list.
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Considering you’ve made lists of your bigger and smaller expenses in order of importance, you are one step closer to easy savings. However, easy doesn’t imply quick. Saving this way will allow you to live comfortably and happily without having to cut out things you love. Nevertheless, it is also a good idea to modify your list in order to save even more, faster. Analyze your expenses and see if there are items you can remove or replace with cheaper options in order to save more in a shorter period of time. For instance, if you must buy a cup of coffee every morning, buy it from Tim Horton’s instead of Starbucks if both taste the same to you. But, if you prioritize Starbucks and particularly love their brand of coffee, make a modification somewhere else. Technically, if you aren’t in a rush to save, modifications aren’t required. However, if you decide to make alterations, make sure it doesn’t compromise what you love.
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