Updated: Jul 24, 2019
I am not a banker, I am not an accountant, I am not a consultant… I am just your average Joe with goals of reaching the ever-coveted “financial freedom” (or whatever comes close to that). So, I’m not going to give you “advice”; I’m just going to tell you 6 ways I attempt to responsibly save and spend my money.
1. KEEP A BUDGET
This is an age-old practice, which technically might not be considered “creative”, but I have found that the WAY you budget needs to be creative. You need to have a budget that fits your lifestyle - it has to be tailored to your goals and habits.
I have found that creating unique categories helps me to pinpoint exactly how I’m spending money. These include a simple category such as “FOOD” and then from there I break them down into smaller subcategories like: “groceries” and “eating out”.
For me a more tailored category I have in my budget is “TRAVEL” which breaks some costs I may not always remember to think about. These include things like: gas for my car, tire rotation, oil change, etc… or plane tickets, bus tickets, international phone data charges, check-bag charges, travel-size medicine, etc.
In addition to keeping a budget, I also keep a “money tracking” note on my phone. This helps me keep track of every dollar that goes in and out. This makes it easy to plug in all of the charges I’ve racked up when I sit down and go over my budget every week. It helps me to see how I’m doing on a weekly basis as well as plan for the future - I can see if I need to cut back on something, move money around, or if I have some wiggle room for the remainder for the month/year.
I have found that keeping a personal budget forces me to take more ownership in my spending. It helps me save money because I can constantly check in and ask myself “is that in the budget”. For more information on how to budget, I’d suggest subscribing to Young Adult Survival Guide! This site has helped me tremendously when it comes to budgeting and other financial planning.
2. PAY YOURSELF FIRST
Every month, no matter how up or down I am financially, I ALWAYS put money to the side. That way if anything in life goes haywire or I just need some cash for any reason, I will have it available. I believe that you have to take care of yourself first. So, I pay myself and then I pay everyone else.
I have found that this takes a lot of self-discipline. Since I’m saving money no matter what, there are times I may not have enough money to do something “fun” like going to a concert or buying a new piece of jewelry - but I know that I’m investing in my future. I always look at it like, “you know what… I may not have enough money to go to a fancy restaurant tonight, but hey, these dollar bills can wipe my tears away!”
I believe in the mantra the artist Skepta tweeted a few years ago: “Complete the mission, return home”. To me, that means, keep your head down, do your job, get paid, and put money in the bank to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
“Self-discipline is literally the #1 way i’ve been able to save and make money.”
3. PAY IT FORWARD (meaning: donate money to others)
This concept may not make sense at first since I’m talking about SAVING money, but I am a firm believer in positive affirmations and karma. My life runs under the assumption that you get back what you put out.
So, I say that to say: You never know how far a donation will go. if you have a job and you can afford to live in whatever form or fashion... You can probably set aside money here and there to help others. Whether that comes in the form of donating to a friend’s GoFundMe for a business they’re trying to start, giving $20 to a person experiencing homelessness, or even buying a kid a candy bar at 7Eleven - that good energy you put out there will come back to you when you most need it. You never know how far your donation will go. I’m not saying you need to starve in order to help every single person on Earth, but I believe that if you do your part, more money will come find you.
I consistently receive emails and DMs from people asking me to serve on such-and-such panel or participate in such-and-such odd job that brings in a couple hundred bucks here and there. I believe my personal philanthropy keeps positive energy around me, so through osmosis, people want to hire me for things - which keeps my cash flow, flowing....
4. PUT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ON CREDIT, AND THEN PAY IT OFF
I know some people are scared of using credit cards (sometimes so am I because you can basically get anything you want with one swipe), but using credit, paying it off, and having your credit score go up can give you an immense amount of leverage in the future.
I would suggest getting a credit card that gives you cash back bonuses meaning, for each purchase, or specific types of purchases, you literally get money back. It’s like buying everything on sale. I have a couple of credit cards and each of them have cash back options. On one of my cards I get 1% cash back on everything. This may not seem like a lot, but that means that if I spend $1000 a month using my credit card, I get $10 - I don’t know about you, but getting $10 a month, $120 a year, for buying things I would have bought anyway sounds good to me!
My other credit card gives me 5% back on specific purchases depending on the month. So, from January-March I might get 5% back on groceries and then from April-June I might get 5% back on gas. That means I’m basically getting things TAX FREE for a certain amount of time each month.
Having a good credit score will also help you in the future when you’re trying to finance a car, house, furniture, or trying to take out a business loan, etc. Using these simple ways to build credit is you making an investment in your future without changing how you spend your money! It’s a win-win!
5. OPEN UP A BUSINESS ACCOUNT FOR YOUR SIDE HUSTLES
Whether that is doing hair and nails on the side, detailing cars, installing exhibitions... you can always find SOMETHING on the side to bring in a little extra cash. If you’re lucky, sometimes those side hustles can keep you afloat when you need it the most or even turn into a full time business.
If you do have a side hustle (or 2 or 3…) I would suggest opening a business account for it. It’s usually free to open up a business account with your bank or credit union. If you register as a sole proprietorship, you can use your business account for all of your side hustle needs and expenses. Then, you can use those expenses as tax write-offs and get even more money back on your taxes! For example: when I went to London, although I partook in a lot of fun activities, I did handle some business. Because of that, I can consider my plane tickets a “business expense” and write that off on my taxes and get a little more money back. Every little bit counts when you’re saving!
MAKE SURE YOU KEEP ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS!
6. MEAL PREP
This is a very simple, but extremely effective way to save money. During the work week I try to only buy breakfast, lunch, or dinner out of necessity. Hustlers and creatives alike: late nights and early mornings are a lifestyle, so some days you won’t have time to make food. This forces you to SPEND money eating out.... Do that 10-15 times a month and you might run up a check! N O G O O D!
I try and build in an hour or 2 (sometimes 3 if im lucky) of meal prep into my weekly schedule. When I do this, my week runs a lot smoother. I'm not stressed about preparing food and I’m not out buying food. I’m already ahead of the game.
We all have goals and many of them require financial investment in some way, shape, or form. So, I hope these tactics can help you save a little more money in the future.
I’m always looking for new ways to save money, so if YOU have any suggestions please leave a comment!