My Money, My Choices
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a personal finance writer, television host and radio broadcaster. Every Wednesday, she arms Metro readers with tips to keep spending in check.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade: How to get yourself in a saving state of mind
If you want to save, you need to change how you think about spending.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Finding the money to save often means changing how you think about spending.
People have been keeping up with the Joneses for so long that the idea of not keeping up is impossible to even imagine. But if you switch your thinking to “Frugal is the new black,” you might be surprised at how many people are quite happy to tag along. More people may be in your broke shoes than you think.
Challenge your friends to find a place to eat out that’ll cost you $10 or less a person. See who can come up with the most interesting option, and that person gets a meal out on everyone else.
Swap shopping for sightseeing, bike riding or people-watching. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money; you simply have to be with people who love you and who make you laugh. And you can do that just as easily at a free concert in the park as at one for which you had to pay big bucks for a ticket.
Make second-hand shopping a game. My daughter’s friends shop as a gang and turn it into entertainment without spending a fortune.
If you have friends who are always pressuring you to spend money you don’t have, come up with tactics to hold true to your new frugality. Join them for dessert. Or eat before you go and make do with an appetizer or a salad. Suggest they come to your house for dinner, bringing their favourite contribution to whatever theme you come up with: Mexican, Asian, veggie.
We all have things we do routinely to which we never give a second thought: the magazine we pick up at that check-out counter, the cup of coffee we grab on the way to work, the candy bar we buy every afternoon as a quick pick-me-up.
Whether you’re letting the kids pile stuff in your grocery cart to keep ’em quiet, or hitting up the bookstore for something to read on a quiet Saturday afternoon, that’s money you could be saving.
For the next month, try this experiment to become conscious about how you’re using your money. Keep track of every cent you spend and what you spend it on. At the end of each week add up what you’re spending to spot “spending mice” that are nibbling away at your “savings cheese.”
Then plug the holes:
• Allocate a specific amount of cash (less than what you’re currently spending) to your Small Indulgences category. When the money is done, so are you.
• Substitute other sources, like the library for the bookstore or a homemade lunch for the food court or local restaurant.
• Leave your plastic at home if the temptation to spend is so overwhelming you can’t get it under control. Walking around with just a $20 bill in your wallet to see you through the day is a great way to feel less pressure to spend. (Make sure you have a full tank of gas!)
There are loads of ways to embrace a new reality that leaves you enough money to save. Show some imagination. Then have the gumption to stick to your plan.