Financial experts recommend people to put 10 percent of their paycheck into some form of savings. If you just snickered after reading that last sentence, then you probably need a little bit of help cutting down your spending to reach that illustrious 10 percent.
It’s a lot simpler than you think and you don’t have to become a total recluse with no possessions to do it either. You just need to do a few simple things.
1. Eliminate or Greatly Reduce Pointless Weekday Outings
Ever go into work on a Wednesday and run into a coworker who smells like an early-90s Charlie Sheen and tells you how hungover he or she is after going out late the night before? Hell, this may even be you. Chances are that person is not saving 10 percent of their paycheck.
Just because the New Jersey Nets are playing the Milwaukee Bucks on a Tuesday night is no excuse for an outing. Unless you are one of the seven total fans of both those teams. Point is, going out for dinner and drinks often on the weekdays, for no particular reason, starts adding up. Save it for special occasions, like birthdays, job promotions, successful sex-change operations, and so on.
If you really want to see your friends that often, clean up your place a bit and invite them over. Or use Skype like a normal person.
2. Stay Away from the Slap Chop
Let’s say you don’t needlessly go out on weekdays, for whatever reason, but you feel like you’re not saving any money. It’s probably Vince’s fault.
Let’s face it, that Slap Chop guy is ridiculously convincing. You dropped $19.95 plus shipping and handling for it, and on the day it came in, you started slap-chopping away until you were left with a mess of chopped up random crap on your counter. Now, the only time it comes out is when you’re desperately trying to get a laugh from your friends.
Nothing against the Slap Chop, but it’s pointless purchases like this that get you in trouble. Yes, Mighty Putty looks awesome, but what the hell does it even do? No, that bronze statue of a penguin isn’t going to look cool in your living room and no one will be impressed that you have a signed Pee-Wee Herman poster in your apartment. In fact, you should lose friends for that last one. The Jersey Shore: Season One DVD, however, is totally acceptable.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Flask It
Going out drinking is expensive and possibly the main reason a person isn’t saving enough. Those same aforementioned financial experts recommend spending no more than five percent of your paycheck on entertainment, which encompasses movies, shows, sporting events, and drinks. For someone making $2,800 a month, that’s only $140 for a whole month! We know you’ve had bar tabs for more than that in one night.
For the sake of savings, there is no shame in bringing in a flask into any establishment. The key is buying your first drink at the bar — think of this as payment for a cup — and then just entering into a bathroom stall to refill it as you go. Most 750ml bottles of liquor are around $30 and will last you at least two or three outings. Just make sure you stay away from the metal flasks and go straight for the plastic ones, which are cheaper and usually hold more.
If you are a beer drinker, you can buy an insulated pouch that wraps around your waist, under your shirt, and makes you look six months pregnant. Then again, beer isn’t that expensive, so you shouldn’t have to humiliate yourself like this.
4. Leave the Plastic at Home
The first time you ever got a credit card, it was likely for “emergencies” only. As the years went by, your definition for emergency loosened up quite a bit to include a coffee from an overpriced coffee house, a new DVD player, a clever “Who Farted?” t-shirt, six shots of Goldschlager, and so on.
The same applies to debit cards. It’s a lot easier to spend $60 in one shot when you don’t physically see it. Set yourself on a strict, per-day cash budget. Seeing the money leave your hands will sting just enough to not want to blow through all of it at once.
On the very, very off chance an emergency occurs, help should be just a phone call away.
Little things like packing a lunch daily can bring you closer to saving that impossible-sounding 10 percent of your income. And if you’re a shut-in without friends who still can’t save 10 percent, then you need a new job.