A common problem I’ve found once we establish a set our rules for saving money and create ourselves a budget. Is that after the point where you begin to feel comfortable again with your savings balances, debt, and cash flow, many of us began to quickly slack off and revert slowly back to our spending habits again.
It can be subtle when you begin to slowly creep back into the era of living pay-check to pay-check, but other times you tell yourself “I’m good this month, I can spend a little extra” or “I’m comfortable now. I don’t need to be so frugal with my money” and there is the problem. For many of us, its easy to back to living from hand to mouth because we have known it all our lives, but it is much harder to tell yourself “no, I have to keep going this is not enough” thinking like that really changes your behaviors and the core of the problem of living beyond your means.
Lifestyle over style
Once we recognize we are not saving, pay a debt off, or managing our cash flow. We can tackle the real beast: our lifestyles. I know how hard it is to see your neighbor pulling into the driveway with a brand new car or a co-worker buying the latest iPhone while you’re still stuck with that flip phone from the dinosaur era. Now really think about it for a second, your neighbor had to finance that car with probably very little down payment and will be charged interest for 5 or 6 years and your co-worker probably just wanted a new phone while he still had a perfectly good phone that could have lasted him a good two years more before it became truly obsolete.
The Buddy System
I learned to overcome my lifestyle choices by finding a like-minded friend that also wanted to spend less and save more. We fed off each other on monthly successes by saving an excess of $1000 a month (at the minimum) on incomes ranging from $55,000-$65,000 because we became highly frugal about the way we wanted to spend our money. Instead of going out each and every day we would hang out at each other’s houses and smoke hookah, play cards, watch movies, play some Call of Duty, or just study together because we are both attending school and working full time.
Strategically making our lives busier resulted in going out less, less gas, and less needless spending helped us each achieve the yearly goals we established ourselves. Obviously, we both have different motives for spending I wanted to save a little emergency fund and he was looking to put a great down payment on a house.
We began mid-January and running right into the most expensive time of the year December. I saved roughly $21250 whereas, he saved $26400 the best part about all of the massive savings is we were both able to take trips that did not affect our savings goals! I went to Dubai and Vietnam for a few weeks with a budget of $5k and did a smaller trip to Cancun which cost $1500 and that was the only major expenses we had for the year!
All in all, find a buddy to keep you accountable and on track with your savings target, or debt pay down schedule if that’s what you’re intending to do. Keep life simple.