Part of me wants to panic. Part of me is saying I need to stop eating out, shopping and buying new music, that i should get rid of my gym membership and my Internet access and that I should never buy another smoothie again.
But if I did all of that I’d be grumpy, frumpy and fat and I couldn’t blab on my blog.
However, we all know it’s time to get serious about saving for retirement and time to do some soul searching about our professional futures. But until we’ve all snagged true financial security (or until a long lost rich aunt dies and leaves you more money than you know what to do with) here are a few things you can try in the meantime:
Be a frugal fashionista. My stylish granny, Georgia Mae, taught me long ago that being broke is no excuse for not being fabulous. So I continue to ball on a budget by hitting up stores like Target and a few of the affordable locally-owned boutiques in the city I call home. When I need a cheap dress for a last-minute event I head to DOTS, where I never pay more than $20 for a new frock. I usually buy my figure-flattering, high quality denim from Express, and though their jeans can cost you $70, if you pay attention to sales you can often snag a pair for $30. And if you have the time and patience it requires, don’t be afraid to rummage through local thrift stores to find a few gems. Oh, and if you have an H&M in your town, take a few moments to thank God right now.
Be an early bird. One of my best gal pals and I are always looking for ways to have a good time on the cheap. So instead of grabbing dinner and catching a late movie, we have lunch and see a matinee.
Pay the tithe, twice. Those of you who are avid churchgoers probably already hand over 10 percent of your check to your congregation. But don’t forget to pay a tithe to yourself too. Many financial gurus suggest putting away 10 percent of your paychecks before you start paying bills and buying lattes.
Realize it’s not fantastic to be plastic. If I didn’t have so much credit card debt, I probably could have started my own business by now or at least taken that dream trip to Paris. Sigh. So I’m working furiously to get rid of my debt ASAP. If you’re paying outrageous interest on one or more of your cards, stop being a wuss and call up the companies and ask for a lower rate.
Get a side hustle. I started freelancing for a national magazine last year and discovered that I could earn a week’s pay writing one story if I picked up the right assignments. Cha-ching. I’m also planning to turn some of my hobbies, like making candles, into cash by selling my creations.
Go to beauty school. One way to save on haircuts and styling costs is to get your ‘do did at a hair design school, which usually charges way less than a professional salon. (OK, I’ll admit I haven’t tried this yet, but a few friends of mine have and didn’t emerge looking like Buckwheat. Just ask around for some recommendations first.)
Be a DIY diva. Do your own pedicures and manicures and find creative ways to revamp some of the clothes in your closet.
Make your mama proud and share. You could swear off eating out to save cash, but that’s no fun. Instead just split an entree with a friend. You probably never eat all of your meal anyway. Or, if no one shares your affinity for frog legs, just order an appetizer.
Change the game. Back when I was mini-me I once spent a day searching our home for all of the change I could find. When my parents took the change to the bank they came back with $50. (They let me keep about $5, I think.) While you’re digging for dimes, search for clothes, books, albums and more that you could sell online or to friends. After I got married I sold a truckoad of furniture from my bachelorette pad simply by posting up a few fliers up around my office building. I made $500.
Don’t water down your wallet. Stop buying bottled water, or at least cut back. Not only are you creating more waste in landfills, but you’re putting a strain on your pocketbook, too. If your tap water is gross (ours tastes like it was drained from collard greens) buy a filter. And buy a cute water bottle so you can tote agua to work and to the gym.
OK, babes, that’s all I got. Now it’s your turn. Tell me how you’re saving money these days. I need all the advice I can get.