Some people can go ahead and buy new pants when they need them. In my sad budget, I have to actually put money aside for a purchase of this magnitude, in minuscule, bi-weekly increments. Weeks later, when I have almost amassed enough, I invariably fuck it all up by deciding, to hell with pants! I need to blow all my money on a karaoke room at Sing Sing and shots of sake.
Saving is HARD. However, despite constant failure, I am always super optimistic that it will be no problem. Since one of my favorite things to save for is vacation, and I am going to Las Vegas this weekend, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about putting money away for important stuff.
Do not put your money in your savings account
Or anywhere you could easily remove it with a couple of online banking transactions. You need to put your savings in a place where money will be easy to deposit, but will take a considerable amount of time and headache to remove. For instance: maybe you could construct a chute that would drop the money into a lock box in your apartment building’s very scary, rat-infested basement. Or, you could pick a beloved childhood stuffed animal and make it so that to withdraw the money you would essentially have to tear Huggy apart. Think of as many obstacles to deter you from withdrawing this money as possible.
Figure out exactly what kind of crap you spend money on
Use Mint to analyze your purchases and put caps on spending. Invariably, your original budget limits will need adjusting. For instance, you might cap your “burritos” budget at $40/month, before realizing that NO HUMAN PERSON could subsist on so few burritos. So be flexible, but most importantly, find out where your money is going before you make cuts.
Be a fascist about budget cuts
Get some discipline. If 15 percent of your budget is going toward records and concerts, from now on, nein! Start sharing music with your friends, going to free shows, dating a girl in a band – whatever.
Remind yourself why you’re saving
If you were saving to get your grandpa a wheelchair, the sight of him hobbling around wheelchairless all the time would be a constant, obvious motivation to save. But not everything you save for will be so apparent! Thus, plant reminders to act as incentives. If it’s a winter coat you need, maybe find some pictures of frost bite and hang them on your fridge. Stuff like that.
Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry, and you find yourself three days away from leaving for Las Vegas without any money put aside for food, gambling, trouble with the law, etc. Which is… disappointing. To say the least. You had four months! Why are you such an incompetent saver?? Maybe don’t think about that now. There are still a few other options.
Alternative to saving 1) Sell off all your possessions on Ebay
You must have SOMETHING of value. Or, even if you have nothing of value, there are a lot of weirdos on Ebay who buy random, worthless shite, so try anyway.
Alternative to saving 2) Student loans
Fill out those FAFSA forms - they will give you mad money. Just try to make sure there is some leftover for books, lab fees, that kind of stuff.
Alternative to saving 3) Spend your rent money
Rent isn’t due until the end of the month! Maybe, by then, something will have changed.