Girl, we feel you. Saving money when you live paycheck to paycheck feels completely unrealistic, especially when you’re already on a pretty tight budget (and there’s rent to pay, bills to fork out for and uber eats deliveries that ain’t going to eat themselves). We also know, however, that a savings account that contains an emergency fund should be your first financial goal (thank you, Barefoot Investor.) It gives you a sense of security and control over your money, knowing that if something were to go wrong—you’d have it (financially) covered. It also flexes the savings muscle, which can quickly build momentum for your larger financial goals. Here’s how you start:
The first step in changing your financial outlook is forgiving yourself for your previous mistakes. Wallowing in the fact that you could have saved enough for a house deposit by now if you hadn’t frittered so much money away on fast fashion/rosé/avocado on toast/breathing is not going to bring that money back, so dwelling on it is simply a waste of time and energy. As we learned from our financial go-to guide, The Barefoot Investor, so much of our relationship with money is dictated by the narratives that we construct for ourselves. If we dismantle the narratives that our past experiences have created for us, we can then move forward into a brighter financial future.
Open a new savings account and consider it a fresh slate for the new, financially-savvier you. The symbolism and renewed sense of optimism that a fresh, untainted account provides will propel you towards your new goals.
Wanna buy a house? Wanna support your canine child with the treats they deserve and save for a time when they might get a human brother or sister? Wanna jet off on a six month tour of the world? Remembering the why behind your new savings-focused strategy is fundamental to success. Savings for savings sake (if you’re a natural born spender) will simply feel restrictive and pointless, but getting clear on what it is you want out of the money you’re putting away each month will make it seem a whole lot more worthwhile.
Pull out your fine tooth comb and trawl your last six months or so of bills. See where you can trim your outgoings—do you need to be paying $18 a month for your music subscription, or could you make do with a few ads to get the free version? Could you set a budget around buying your favourite latte twice per week as opposed to every day, and eating out once each weekend instead of for every meal?
You probably don’t need to be told that the little things all add up, but the little things all add up and can quickly grow your savings account from something quite meaningful.
We get it—living paycheck to paycheck isn’t easy. When you’ve got bills, rent and student debt to pay off, saving can quickly fall off your radar as you struggle to balance paying your way and maintaining some semblance of a social life. Committing to saving something each month, however small, will get you used to flexing your savings muscles and lay the foundations for bigger things to come.
Second jobs are a millennial gateway to saving, and the advent of the digital age has made it easier than ever for people to supplement their income with additional work. From blogging and pet sitting to photography and freelance creative work, getting a side hustle is the perfect way to build your savings. Live off of the wage from your main gig, and save the fruits of your extra labour. As you see your bank account grow, so will your commitment to saving—making it a win win.
For more saving (and money making) tips, check out this awesome advice by finance expert, Canna Campbell.