How to Save $1500/month at 18 + Budgeting

Spending is probably the most glamorized practice in all of the world of social media. Fancy cars..big houses…flights…insurance...bills. The reality of it is, everything costs money and you can’t live to the American standard of comfort without money. So this standard that we create in our minds involving the 4/3/2 house in the suburbs paired with the $70k suburban out front is what a lot of us are on path for–and that’s perfectly fine for some. In that case, material gain by means of money acquisition is the way to go. But for me, that’s definitely not the case.

I’m not pre-med, pre-law, or anywhere near being an engineer. Six-figure salaries will never be a thing for me and I’m completely okay with that. Material possessions really do not tickle my fancy and I used to have the  biggest buyers remorse when I would spend money on wasteful things. But as I’ve had a few jobs here and there and had some times where I’ve had the opportunity to invest in items that would have a fair return rate and would actually last more than a season, I’ve realized my __ ways on how I went from being a big spender to a big saver. Because when you make that switch from spending to saving, you take control of your income and where it is going, and the money stops taking control of you.

HOW TO STOP FRIVOLOUS SPENDING

1. Pack your lunch + Stop Eating Out
Eating out is a social thing and we all have that one friend that’s always asking if you want to go to lunch or dinner but honestly in the 45 minutes you have to spare on your lunch break, it’s not like you’re actually going to be able to eat anywhere that’s really worth even the $8-10 you would be throwing away on lunch each day. Instead, pack your lunch. Cooking is actually really enjoyable and you can almost make it a game with different recipes that save you time, money, and calories. Also packing snacks for throughout your day will prevent a walk of shame into a gas station to buy some mediocre, overpriced chocolate bar. And buying a water bottle out is just plain dumb–you should never have to purchase water. Bring a re-usable water bottle with you wherever you go.
2. Invest in clothing twice a year
Stores love to advertise clothing to make it seem like there’s 52 seasons in a year. You know what I’m talking about: the commercials that play every Thursday through Sunday advertising the //super great weekend sale that you won’t want to miss//. Honey, miss it. In the Sunshine State, there’s two seasons: hot and humid and damp and cold. I don’t need “Fall” or “Spring” clothing. I invested in a good winter coat and I have my summer wardrobe staples that I swap in and out like a capsule wardrobe. American closets are bigger than any other countries’ because we have so many clothes that we don’t even wear. Go through your old clothes, pick out what you can re-sell, and donate the rest–you’ll even get a tax write off for it. And when you do shop, don’t waste your money on cheap things that you’ll get one wear out of. You’re no longer growing like your sixteen year old self so you can invest in a good summer suit and a winter suit and their necessary pieces.
3. Gym Memberships
If you’re still in college and have a student ID, you have a free gym membership so there’s no excuse to not use it. I grew up as a military ID holder so I’ve always had a free gym access and I’m so fortunate for that. If you’re trapped in a place that only has costly gym memberships, pick up running, or biking, or even trying the millions of workout videos on the internet.
4. No expenses
Chances are, if you’re 18 and living at home/in college, you’re probably not paying rent, car insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, or life insurance. Realistically, at the age of 18, you have essentially no expenses. So that means that any income, should be net income. I get that you have to pay for gas to get to and from work/school but that’s about it.
5. Full-time vs. Part-time + Working Efficiently
I’ve worked multiple part-time jobs in the past and I’ve found that the weird hours of part time have such an impact on my off hours so much that I might as well be working. Working in a restaurant is fine and all, until you’re coming home at midnight or 1am, sleeping until 11, then wasting your day away until it’s 4pm and you have to go back into work. Then, on your one to two non-consecutive, randomly placed days off, you just feel like sleeping because you’re so tired. I was super hesitant about going for a full-time job this summer, but I would 100% recommend it. Full time jobs are great because the 40 hour work week is respected. It’s Monday through Friday 9-6 or 9-5. But the entire weekends are to yourself and when it’s the weekend, it’s the weekend. Instead of sleeping away your days off, you’re forced to make the most of your weekends.And the time that you would just be recovering from the night, you’re making money. It’s a far more efficient use of your time, and to me, it’s a more respectful use of your time because it’s expected that you get your work done during the week, then be completely free of obligations on the weekend.


Budget

When it comes to budgeting, the only way to get it done is to write it down like this, in a google doc, or on a piece of paper. Seeing your budget goals written out will make it more painful for you the next time you decide to be frivolous and waste your money on something you don’t really need.
Budget
Income: 1800
Costs:
Gas: +/-120
Clothes: 100
Food: 30

Total Expense: 250
Net Income: $1550
It all comes down to a whole lot of self-discipline. Knowing that all the times you said no and saved that dollar will eventually pay off when you have the means for a rainy day or a random day you decide to jump on a plane and go somewhere new. Let’s make saving great again.
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