I’ve been on a Dave Ramsey kick lately. With all the driving I do between commuting to work and visiting my long-distance boyfriend, I’ve had plenty of time to listen to his many rants and speeches on YouTube.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, his philosophy is basically this: eliminate and avoid all debt. Cut up your credit cards, buy your car with cash, don’t take out student loans. Don’t live beyond your means. Build an emergency fund. Save and invest so that you can be generous in the future.
I’ve adopted his mantra “Live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later.” In other words, BE WEIRD.
Other people wear trendy clothes. They go out to eat–a lot–and order drinks, appetizers, and sides. They get Starbucks on the daily. They have cable and Netflix and all the other subscriptions. However, they are probably broke, as the majority of Americans are.
Most people couldn’t handle an unexpected expense over $400 without having to borrow. If that’s the norm, then I want to be weird. But it means sacrificing the appetizers and trendy clothes. I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve been saving money below:
- Cancel Netflix and get a library card. Sure, it’s just $10/month, but Netflix has been adding some pretty low-quality shows and movies lately. Once I finished Gilmore Girls, Stranger Things, and The Office…it was hard to find anything good to get into. I’d start a series or movie, and within the first 30 minutes I was turned off by the blatant vulgarity in this media. Is Hallmark channel the only place it’s safe to watch something without pre-marital sex, curse words, violence, and social justice propaganda? Methinks so. Anyway, the library has a great selection of DVDs and I can check them out for free. I’m reading more too. It’s amazing to think there’s an endless source of free entertainment just down the street–remind me again why we spend so much on cable, Netflix, and movies??
- Cut and color your own hair. I know, I know, this sounds crazy. But trust me, cutting your own hair is the most liberating feeling. You control everything. Don’t you hate it when your stylist cuts off too much length or doesn’t layer it the way you requested? When you do it yourself, you have full creative reign! I called a salon last week to get a quote on a color and cut. I was floored when the total came to $90 (over $100 after tipping). After politely declining to make an appointment, I ran to Ulta to get my own supplies. The color I got was marked way down and ended up costing a few bucks.
- Paint your own nails. This goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Yes, it’s a pain to do all this yourself–but you can make it fun. When you have a day to yourself, put on meditation music, light some candles, and have an all-out spa day–right at home. Use honey and lemon to make a facial, paint your nails, cut/color your hair, exfoliate with a homemade sugar scrub. You can create a salon experience for less than ten bucks (and look just as good afterwards).
- Shop at Goodwill. There’s no shame in shopping here. In fact, if you bring clothes to donate, they’ll give you a discount on any purchases you make. Win-win: you clean out your closet, help people in need, and get to update your wardrobe for super cheap! I once found a designer shirt for $4 at Goodwill. After a few wears, I brought it back for the donation bin and got some cute new name-brand shirts for just a couple dollars a piece. This keeps my wardrobe fresh and interesting, yet I’m not spending a ton on trendy outfits that could go out of style next week.
- Bring your lunch to work. I struggle with this one because my job is mostly fieldwork, which means I’m not around a fridge and microwave–making it hard to plan meals. But it’s crazy how much eating out can add up. That goes for any meal of the day–and coffee treats. Ask for gift cards to your favorite coffee shops and restaurants for birthday/Christmas, and use these throughout the year when you need a pick-me-up or feel like treating yourself. You can also choose a specific amount to budget for this and use the envelope system to avoid over-spending.
Remember, it’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you save! By being weirdly stingy now, you’ll be weirdly rich in the future.