We are all guilty of overspending from time to time (or all the time). However, if you’re consistently spending over what you afford, you can fall down a scary downward spiral—and before you know it, you’ll be drowning in bad debt.
Don’t get discouraged, and don’t think it’s impossible to get back on a budget. Changing your shopping habits is absolutely within reach if you follow a few basic steps and get started now.
Every day, you’re presented with choices, and you have to make decisions. From waking up to your first alarm or snoozing, making that early yoga class or sleeping in, coffee at home or Starbucks. These choices not only affect today, they also have a huge affect on your future.
To reach your financial goals, you need to make appropriate daily choices today. You can’t have everything you want, and if you have big goals in life, you have to make sacrifices. Just ask Sallie Krawcheck, former Wall Street analyst and CFO of Citigroup turned founder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. Whether you’re a recent college grad spending your first real paycheck or a seasoned professional, Krawcheck says tradeoffs are always needed when you have big goals in life.
Being in debt after a series of bad spending is scary, to say the least, especially as a woman. But, learning how to make better decisions is absolutely doable, and better yet, it can make you a lot of money in the long run. So, take a deep breath, look around yourself, muster up an attitude of gratitude, and learn to love your starting point. Budgeting doesn’t have to be painful (it can be fun—your decision).
By getting a handle on your shopping habits and knowing the things you spend too much money on, you’ll already be saving big. The most important thing is establishing a healthy routine and mastering the art of consistency.
We sat down with Krawcheck at Ellevest’s New York headquarters, and she was more than happy to explain not only how we can make better shopping decisions but als0 how her company benefits women—prepare to take notes.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can change your shopping habits and save big in 2018. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. MAKE A DETAILED BUDGET
First and foremost, find out how much you spend every month. Do this by looking at your bills and parsing the numbers. Putting pen to paper and budgeting out your spending each month will reinforce your goals and make them more manageable in the long run.
Once you know the number, set a realistic budget for everything you need based on your income. Consider how much money you’ll need for rent, food, shopping, and saving / investing (we’ll get to more of that later). The experts, (that includes us) say the best way to look at your salary is to look at your take-home pay and put is 50% for needs— rent, food, the essentials 30% for fun—dinner with friends, a really nice restaurant, shopping, and —10% for future you—retirement.
The most important part about this is being real with yourself. You know that you are going to be spending on those lattes every morning, you know you have a hair appointment, you know you’ll need more Fenty foundation by the end of the month. Note every detail. It is going to take a lot of time but will be worth it in the end. And make sure you’re putting away a certain amount of every paycheck for investing in future you. We invest in things like finally starting a business, going on a trip around the world, having a baby, buying a house.
2. REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR BUDGET DAILY
Once you have identified how much you can afford to spend every month, you need to be reminded of it. It is all too easy to forget the budget your create for yourself to solve this problem by either writing out your budget and posting it somewhere you see every day, setting a reminder on your phone, or downloading a finance-based app that sends daily notifications. Takeaway: when it comes to saving money, most people save what they don’t spend but when in reality they should spend what they don’t save.
Being reminded of your budget every day will help keep you focused on your goals.
3. AVOID IMPULSE PURCHASES BY SLEEPING ON IT
We all know the dangers of impulse purchases. One of the most straightforward and easy ways to avoid impulse shopping is by sleeping on it. Leave the store (or your online checkout)without buying the item that caught your eye last minute. If you are still fantasizing about the item the next day or next week, then go back and buy it. I know this is especially tricky when a sale is going on but it will help you save so much money. Money that you can keep to invest in your goals.
4. TELL YOUR FRIENDS
One of the biggest places millennials sink their money in to is social activities. It’s hard to turn down coffee dates with your friends, or bottomless Sunday brunches, or unnecessary nail appointments. These social activities often include spending that is not necessary and it all adds up. Making your friends aware that you are trying to save money this year will help you avoid looking rude by turning down expensive activities.
Plus, chances are they are hoping to save money too and will be more than happy to socialize via meal-prep and at-home nail parties. Try it and let us know how it goes in the comments below.
5. START INVESTING YOUR SAVINGS
One of the most important financial steps you can take in the New Year is to invest the money you make. CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck explains that “If you’re not investing, you’re doing most of the hard work around money (you know, going to work every day, turning in that amazing design, landing the difficult-to-close client, beating our sales projections)… but we’re only getting about half the reward. And so we’re depriving ourselves of the ability to take on more risks in our career if we don’t have a financial cushion built up.” . And platforms like Ellevest will automatically build a diversified portfolio for you based on your timeline and goals.
Make this the year you start investing, even just a little bit. If you’re just starting out, choose an investment service with a $0 minimum and low fees that is a fiduciary, meaning they are required to act in your best financial interest. Then start investing as soon as you’ve paid off any bad debt. The 50/30/20 rule is a great one — and if you’re not there yet, it’s one to aim for. This is the inequality we can start working on all by ourselves.
Following these five steps won’t ensure that you stick to your New Years Resolution, but it will certainly give you a head start. Read more about Style Salute’s smart money tips here and to learn more about how easy investing can be, check out these 5 things you need to know about investing.