How to save money when you are young, dumb and broke

How to save money when you are young

I’m a writer, so I know all about being broke. I’ve spent huge chunks of my life that way – particularly when I was young (if there’s anything that earns less money than a writer it’s a young writer). And so I know all about how it feels to be broke.

Of course, that alone won’t help you much. Sympathy doesn’t get you out of trouble.

Fortunately, I haven’t just been broke, I’ve worked my way out of it (several times as a matter of fact – another problem with being a writer is that fortune is often as fickle as the wind). In the process I’ve learned more than my fair share of tricks. Today I’m going to share a few with you.

Have a goal

The first thing that you need to do is have a goal, preferably one that is SMART. If you’re in debt, then you want to figure out when you want to be out of it. If you want to save for school, then work out how much you’ll need and when you’ll need it by.

Once you’ve got a time line and a financial target in mind, break it down to a yearly basis, a monthly basis, a weekly basis and even day by day. This is very important, as this will take your goal from being some abstract number in the future, into something you have to save every day in order to get there. And that will make each financial decision seem all the more relevant.

Sweat the small stuff

Don’t just try to save money on the big stuff, try to save money on the small stuff as well. Seriously, if every day you’re getting yourself a coffee for $3 dollars, that means you’re spending $21 dollars a week, $84 dollars a month and more than a thousand per year! On coffee!

So, don’t have that coffee, that sandwich, or that ice cream from the corner shop. Instead make it at home and bring it in.

Can’t do that? Then consider downgrading. Do you really need that double shot cucaracha macchiato latte with syrup shaved off a penguin’s nipples? How about just having a black coffee? Is it really that much worse?

Also, you can try to use your imagination and instead of buying expensive holidays presents save some money and make it by yourself.

If you manage to shave $3 dollars a day off your spendings on stuff like this, then you’ll – you guessed it – save more than a 1000 dollars in a year.

Don’t think negative

And with that I don’t mean, ‘don’t have a negative mind set’. That’s ultimately up to you. What I mean is that if you’re trying to save money, the thing not to do is think about what you should stop doing. You see, the thing about thinking about what we should stop doing focuses our attention on it. For example, if I ask you to not think of a white polar bear, what’s the first thing that pops into your head?

So don’t think about what you won’t do as then you’ll just end up overthinking it. Instead, focus on what you’ll replace that activity with. If, for example, you love to go shopping or drinking, replace those activities with volunteering, learning an instrument, or learning how to set up your own business. Anything, really, that isn’t going to cost you as much money and is going to keep your mind off the habit that costs you a lot of money.

Change things up

Another good idea, particularly if you’ve got friends with who you’ve got expensive habits, is to try and avoid them for a while. They might be toxic for you and your savings.  In this way you’ll avoid the social pressure of spending that accompanies hanging out with them. Instead, try to make new friends, preferably people who are also engaged in the activity that you’re now pursuing to keep you distracted. Then they can distract you as well!

Also, consider moving. This can significantly reduce your rent (which is a wonderful way to save money). It’s not just that, however, it’s also that we compare ourselves to the people who live around us and if we can move to a neighborhood that’s slightly less well-to-do we’ll feel a lot less inclined to spend money in order to keep up with them!

And not struggling to keep up with the jones is a fantastic way to make sure that you don’t spend as much money.

Move abroad

You can even think about moving abroad for a while. Yes, that’s right. You can combine the fantasy of traveling abroad with saving money.

Perhaps, look online for jobs in other countries, or try freelancing for a place where the costs aren’t as high. If you can get a job in a country that is cheaper, even if they only match your salary that is still like getting a salary bump as you end up spending less on living expenses. And it can even become an adventure!

So start looking online for opportunities to spend six months, a year, or maybe two in a foreign country, that can get you back in the black. And if you sublet you might even be able to pay most of your cost of living off what your renter is paying you!

Heck, the looking for a place to look to and the way how to do it can become the money-spending replacement I spoke about above!

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  1. Monica Gellar Avatar

    I wish I did this years ago and stopped the frivolous spending. It is empowering to have self control and not to impulse shop. Those little purchases add up quick and most times are totally unnecessary.

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