30 Day Writing Challenge
The million dollar question: Why am I always broke?
The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? I, Cat Marte, admit I am an impulse shopper. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen, it’s like BOOM there goes all my progress.
There is hope still! Having read several blogs and other sites on how to save money, in addition to my own creative solutions, I’ve come up with a list of tips and tricks to save yourself from yourself.
Hide your money.
Yes. Hide it. FROM. YOURSELF. I do this by storing money in several different places. For example, I have 3 separate bank accounts; one is for spending; one is for paying bills; and the third is for hiding money. The way it works is simple; the bills account is where my direct deposit comes in. From there I pay my bills or leave enough money for autopay bills, then I transfer over my “spending” allowance to my spending account.
But here is the trick: the third account is NOT connected to the spending and bills accounts. This is a checking or savings account in another bank, totally isolated from the other accounts. To deposit money into this account, I go to the ATM and take out the money from my bills account (where my check gets deposited), and then drive to other bank and deposit the money into the third account.
Now for the tip: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT walk around with the debit card associated with that account. In fact, shred it if possible. The whole point is that the money is in a place where it is not easily accessible. Next time you are at Target and you realize you really need new sheets (but do you actually?), they will just have to wait because there is no possibility of instant gratification. All the money you have left is in your third account, which you can’t access without physically leaving Target to go to the bank, stand in line for the bank teller, and withdrawal the funds. See why this method is so effective?
This method is similar to hiding your money but less steps and less driving. Sometimes what I do is withdraw all my money except my bills money. Then I divide it into sections (think Dave Ramsey), store the rest somewhere in my room and only carry with me what I need.
Trick: Don’t carry around your weekly budget—that’s just setting yourself up for spending it all in a day. Just carry with you your budget for that day! Sometimes I carry around no money, because I know there is no reason to spend money that day. Just think about this, if you are use to going to Starbucks and getting a $5 Chai latte every morning and then spending $20 on sushi for lunch that’s $25 a day. But if you have no money on you, besides the $15 you budgeted, then you will have no other choice but to find an alternative to your pricy habits and therefore save yourself $10!
Also, if you are going to use this method, make sure ALL of your disposable money is cashed out of your account, that way you can’t spend it by mistake.
Tip: If you use this method religiously, you will likely have some money left over (like in the Starbucks and sushi example), because you’ll have spend less than what you usually spend. Make sure to use that money productively, like throwing it into a saving account or better yet, into an investment account! Which brings me to my next method….
Yes of course you should be contributing to your 401K or 503B or IRA or whatever investment method you have for retirement. This is super important—start young. But not what I am referring to here. What I am referring to is a concept called “Paying yourself first.” Any decent book or advice material about how to increase wealth talks about this concept. What it means is that, before you pay your bills or do anything with your money, you should be paying yourself, i.e taking out a portion of your paycheck to build your wealth.
Trick: I highly, highly recommend an investment app (aka robo-advisors) like ACORNS or SoFi, etc. I personally use ACORNS because I like the really easy, hassle free aspect of it. I also really like that you need just $5 to start and I love the concept of their “Around Ups” method. This makes saving absolutely forgettable, and when I do remember that it’s happening, I open up my ACORNS app and am pleasantly surprised by the amount I’ve saved.
Tip: ACORNS is really like a savings account plus, if you ask me. It’s investing for dummies who have trouble saving and have no idea how to invest. So it’s perfect for me! But if you are interested in more advanced robo-advisors, and also know more about stocks and investing, then nerdwallet did a great comparison on the best robo-advisors of 2019.
I’ve tried all three of these methods with success, but let’s just be real, sometimes I fall off the wagon. I’ve tried several other methods of saving money and some have worked and some have bombed, and some have gotten me into more debt (hard sigh!). I think the key is to just keep trying. Take it paycheck to paycheck (all puns intended!) and see what works and what doesn’t.