Saving money for something Big, like a car, house, or Fuck Off Fund, doesn’t necessarily mean cutting yourself off from avocado toast and lattes — but it does mean spending more (or, uh, at least a little) time looking over your bank statements. If your palms are getting sweaty just thinking about finances, you’re in the right place! NOW is a great time to start thinking about what’s happening to your money, even — and, well, especially — if you don’t have a lot of it.
Traditional tools (401(k)s, mutual funds, and the like) can be very intimidating for those who are just starting their financial journey. You already know: Saving money regularly (even if it’s a tiny amount) should be a priority, but how to actually make sure you have money to spare for those savings isn’t as obvious. So, we’re going to offer some simple, expert-recommended changes you can make to start getting serious about your cash.
1. Instead of buying a new phone every year, replace your battery.
An easy one: If your iPhone starts to feel sluggish, don’t spend hundreds upgrading to a new phone after only a year or two. Just get a replacement $29 battery through the Apple Store or authorized service provider. Apple recently admitted to slowing down phone performance as the device’s battery ages, and, after customer outcry, it lowered the price of replacement batteries.
2. When you eat at restaurants, avoid ordering juice or soda.
Jamila Souffrant of Journey to Launch, a certified financial education instructor, maximizes her savings by never buying nonalcoholic drinks while eating out at restaurants: “I always ask for tap — it’s free!” Drinks are often overpriced, and those extra dollars saved will add up. Plus, water’s good for ya.
3. Insist on paying for what you ordered, rather than splitting the bill evenly.
Dining out with friends while on a budget is *extra* challenging. “The best thing you can do is take the reins on the planning, because you have the opportunity to pick a budget-friendly place or find a deal,” said personal finance author Stefanie O’Connell.
No one wants to seem cheap, but if you’re determined to hit that savings goal, O’Connell recommends speaking up about getting separate checks or paying for what you ordered. “It’s uncomfortable, but everyone can empathize with finances being tight. Chances are, they’re going through the same thing,” she said.
Tab (free, iOS and Android) is a simple bill-splitter app that uses your phone’s camera to digitize and itemize the receipt. Pass the phone around, and everyone can claim their items by tapping on each dish or drink they ordered. Multiple people can claim a single shared item, like fries, too. The app automatically calculates tax and tip, and no one pays extra.
Ultimately, saving up doesn’t mean you should stay in. Going out to maintain relationships with people you care about — or taking advantage of a networking opportunity every now and then — can be worthwhile, too. “Money you spend socializing with people is valuable because network-building is valuable,” said O’Connell.