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A couple of years ago I was in the big league of “who is who” – that is, I was doing exemplary work in the business world. I used to rub shoulders with the high and mighty businessmen in our lavish New York neighborhood. Now, sadly, that is a dream. My world came crashing down as a result of some wrong decisions I made without thinking straight.
I made some decisions thoughtlessly to satisfy my ego and “friends” – people who were not truly my friends, but who were benefitting a lot more from me than I from them. As harsh as that sounds, that’s the bottom-line truth: a lot of the people around us are there to benefit from their relationship to us.
My net worth was very good, according to my then-financial advisor, Mr. Benlick. He used to advise me on how to invest every penny made and ways to avoid unnecessary spending. I truly regret not heeding Mr. Benlick’s wise words, I lost a lot more than I could imagine due to ignorance and arrogance. The main reason for writing this is to enlighten all of us on ways of saving money and not spending it unwisely.
Let’s go through the life changes that can help you save money this summer.
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Stop Dating Materialistic People
When young and doing well financially, one is tempted to indulge in the game of dating. I used to date women that for now I call “expensive women.” I used to get these ladies expensive gifts just to keep them by my side. Looking back it seems that I used to buy love from them, as the escapade became very expensive to maintain. The amount of money spent on these ladies could have been money invested wisely in the stock market and big profit made.
None of the women are with me right now, because I could not maintain their expensive living standards. In simpler terms, it was like planting seeds in an infertile land, where you spend and there are no returns.
Drink Less Alcohol During Social Outings
When you go on a drinking spree do you save money or do you spend money? The answer is very simple: you spend money, and in time you overspend. You might argue that you always have a budget on how much to spend when out, but the question is how many are principled enough to stick and adhere to that budget? Very few actually do that, the rest of us always wake up with a bad hangover and empty pockets, and with a shrinking bank account every time you go out, with time the reducing bank account will translate to no funds in that account.
Editor’s Note: Do you find that summer time leads to more alcohol-driven outings? From meeting at bars, to BYOB picnics, it seems that summertime is the season for alcohol! As we all know, alcohol lowers inhibitions – this can be very hard on your wallet.
Downgrade Your Cable TV
This tip actually works. Imagine right now you have subscribed to the most expensive cable TV with more than a hundred channels: many of us do not watch even half of these channels. If this is the case, you are paying good money for something that you really do not need. Put that extra money into good use. Even better, invest that money somewhere. Downgrading your cable TV does not mean that you are getting any poorer – it means you are making smart financial decisions.
Editor’s Note: It has been almost a year since I canceled my cable entirely. In addition to saving $100 per month, I’ve found that I have a lot more free time!
Eat Out Less Often and at Cheaper, Tastier Places
Being the bachelor that I was, with my very expensive dates, eating out at high-end restaurants become habitual. At these sorts of restaurants, you are paying mostly for the brand and not the service offered. There are many places where you can eat out if you have to, that are pocket-friendly with top-notch service.
I am not against going out and treating yourself or your family, but only for special occasions or when need arises. Every penny saved goes a long way, and even saving a little is better than saving none! Every financial advisor will tell you to save as much as you can. It is cheaper to cook delicious Coconut Chicken Strips (my favorite) and eat it at home rather than eating out; cooking at home means that you can budget yourself very well. Every month you should make a shopping list that will prevent overspending, and will enable you to cut down on excess food purchases.
Stop Hanging Out With Lavish Friends, Who Do Lavish Things
With friends it is very hard to know when and where to draw the line, because we tend to put our friends first over other things. For example, what our friends say or suggest, every idea, good or bad, works for us. I tried keeping friends that loved a luxurious life and the result was a bank account stating “you do not have enough money to complete this transaction.”
Sometimes friends treat us to dinner or drinks, but not every day – other days you will have to do the same. This often means spending a lot with the aim of proving you are a good friend, which translates to competition amongst yourselves, ending in an unhealthy and expensive venture.
Come Up With a Monthly Budget
Ensure that every month you come up with a budget in order to track your expenses and completely establish the flow of your income. In other words, with a monthly budget, you are able to know how much you are spending and can see if what you are earning is sufficient to sustain you; you can also identify where there is a surplus that you can save or invest wisely. A budget will teach you discipline and will keep you on track, helping you avoid becoming a spendthrift. Once you come up with a budget, stick to it and you will see the fruits of your labor – take it from a person who had to learn the hard way.
Pack Your Launch and Eat Breakfast at Home
Following this tip will help you save a lot at the end of the day. Bringing lunch to work and having breakfast at home means you are saving the money you would have spent to buy these things.
Editor’s Note: This is a hard one for some people, particularly those like me who tend to run late to morning commitments. Planning ahead can really help here – make your lunch the night before, or try an overnight oatmeal for ease in the morning!
As you go through this article, consider which of these lifestyle changes you can put into practice today to save money this summer. Do not be that person who says “let me learn from my own mistakes.” Rather, learn from other peoples’ experiences to better yourself and avoid these common financial errors. Do not think that you are too young to start growing your money and investing; start as young (or as old!) as you are, and in time you will be enjoying your efforts.
These tips can help you save money this summer, but they also work throughout the year! Have you made any of these lifestyle changes?