With the country sunk in recession and the value of the dollar in a sorry state, it’s more important than ever to budget your money wisely. You work hard and you want to play hard, too, but there’s a time for frivolity and a time for fiscal responsibility, and an economy rife with cutbacks, layoffs, and unemployment is surely the latter. But being sensible can be difficult, especially for a jet-setter such as you. So how can you cut back painlessly (without feeling deprived)? Here are a few foolproof ways to spend like an adult when you want to indulge like a kid.
1. Clip coupons. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is an activity also practiced by your mother and grandmother. They’re smart ladies! You can still have all the foods you want at a discounted price. It’s like getting paid to eat what you want. What could be better? If you’re really trying to penny pinch, you can also opt for generic brands, which are often identical (and half the price).
2. Hide your money. This isn’t fun, per se, but it is easy. Open a high-interest savings account. These are generally more difficult to access and withdrawal of funds may result in stiff penalties. However, if you let your money sit, you can realize growth on your capital that you won’t get from a regular savings account. Getting your statements every month will be a lot more fun when you can watch your money grow.
3. Brown bag it. This does double duty because it not only saves you money on eating out, it also allows you to control your diet and cut calories. Do you have any idea how much fat and sugar is in your favorite fast food items? Even restaurants are guilty of ridiculously high calorie counts. Bringing your own lunch will make you smarter, faster, and stronger. Okay, it won’t actually do any of those things, but it will save you money and it’s a heck of a lot easier to keep your svelt figure.
4. Use cash. That’s right. Shred the credit cards and switch to cash. Nothing will stop you from spending faster than running out of money. Upholding an image is for people who have money or don’t care about being in debt. If you are neither, then you need a reality check. Will your friends be there to bail you out when you go bankrupt? Probably not. So why are you trying to impress them by throwing around money you don’t have? Instead of eating out on credit, have your friends come to your house for dinner (if they each bring a side dish, you can all save on the cost of food and still have a good meal and a great time).
5. Drop your cable. When you’re done groaning over this one, listen up for just a minute. You don’t need cable. Many of your favorite TV shows are now available the next day online and signing up for a service like Netflix can cost you anywhere from a fifth to a tenth of what you’re paying for cable. That means the same service (or better) at a fraction of the cost, and saving money on the things you love makes them that much better.
Thomas Warren is a content writer for Go College, one of the oldest and most trusted resources to guide students on how to finance and succeed in college.