Money is such a taboo subject and most people hate discussing it, and for good reason. It’s the root of stress for most of us and the driving force behind everything we do on a day to day basis. Carli and I moved out on our own when we were 18 and had to learn how to manage our money quickly and efficiently. We had always worked two part-time jobs while going to school until we found a reliable full-time gig that paid the bills. When we were working odd jobs we really learned how to budget properly and still be able to do the things we wanted to do and buy the things we needed.
By the time we graduated college we had a solid understanding of how to support ourselves and the importance of good credit. And honestly, no one taught us these lessons, they came from thorough research and trial and error. The following tips have been monumental in our financial journey and we know they can help you too!
1 | Start a money journal.
This is a new thing for me but I am loving it. A money journal may sound like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. My journal is super simple. It’s actually a calendar that I keep in a planner (organization dork over here). At the end of each day, I’ll write down the ONE THING that I purchased that day that made me the happiest. It could be something as small as a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme (it’s been in my journal once or twice) or something as large as a plane ticket. Doing this is helpful to find out which type of spending you should cut out of your life if you’re trying to budget. For instance, if I see makeup products pop up a lot in my journal I know that they bring me joy so I’ll continue to spend on them. If I’m getting Starbucks three times a week but never see it in my journal it may be time to cut back.
2 | The Mint app is your best friend.
We’ve been using Mint for a couple years now and it makes managing your finances a breeze. You can set up budgets in any category and Mint will categorize your purchases automatically and tell you where you’re at in your budgets at any given moment. This is useful for me as I like to spend a lot of money on makeup. Setting up a budget helps me limit my spending. Yes, there are month’s when I go over budget but that just aids me in getting back on track. Mint also tracks all of your purchases and lets you export different reports. This is super useful come tax season!
3 | Check your bank accounts each and every day.
This may sound like overkill but here me out. It takes less than a minute to quickly skim your bank accounts and make sure everything is in order. The more you check your accounts the more likely you are to notice when something is off. And speaking from experience it’s best to report fraud asap before things get out of control. Checking your bank accounts daily will also make you more aware of your spending. If you wake up and see a huge drop in your balance, you may be spending too much.
4 | Set up a separate checking account for supplementary income.
You may think this is the same thing as a savings account but it’s not. Many of us have side hustles that we make money from here and there. We suggest taking all of your side job paychecks and depositing them into an account of its own. Carli and I have a shared bank account where we put all of our blogging income and any side project paychecks. We then save that money for big purchases like a new lens, and currently, we had enough for new MacBooks. You’d be surprised at how fast your account will grow if you don’t touch it. And since this is all “side money” anyways it’s not like you’re going to miss it in your everyday life.
5 | Make a credit card payment as soon as you get paid.
This one can be hard to get used to but trust me, it’s a good idea. Often times we get our paycheck and then immediately pay our rent, car payment, car insurance, etc. There may not be a whole lot leftover and what is left is often spent on food and goods. But if you have a hefty credit card balance it’s a good idea to make a payment when you have the money. If you put it off another week you will probably end up spending the money elsewhere and thus have no other option than to pay the bare minimum (bad idea).
6 | Do your research before getting a credit card.
I am constantly getting pre-approved credit cards in the mail. I think of them as a joke and immediately cut them up. Who would fall for such a thing? But recently I was alarmed when I found out that people actually use those credit cards. They accept just because it’s easy. Not a good idea. I’m telling you, do your research. If you set up a Mint account (see above) they often recommend credit cards for you and most of the time they’re really good options. I travel often but not enough to rank up points through a Delta or United card. So for me, I wanted something that gave me free interest for awhile and had cashback options. I went with the Blue Cash Everyday Card by American Express. No interest for a year and great cash back/reward options! They also approved me for an insane amount which is comforting for when things like vet visits come up (dogs are expensive, FYI).
7 | Buy clothes and goods online.
This is a pretty popular idea in general but it has it’s some upsides that you probably never thought of. Many of us order anything we can from Amazon because it’s cheaper and gets to our home in two days. However, buying things online ALSO keeps you out of
Target the store. We’ve all been there. You go in for bread and milk and leave with two swimsuits, a candle, and a new coffee maker. All of which you HAD TO HAVE. If you don’t physically go shopping you won’t be tempted by the cute clothes and home decor. If you know you need a new pair of jeans order that one pair online and don’t fall for the “free shipping over $50” trick. Many time there are coupon codes for free shipping or money off. We use the Honey Chrome extension religiously. When you’re on a website all you have to do is click the button and a list of coupon codes pop up. Carli and I rarely purchase something without a discount!
8 | Try a No-Spend Week or Month
There are certain times in your life when certain things just come up that you can’t control. You end up spending a large amount in a short number of days. For me, this happened recently. I had some dental work done, a large vet bill, had to purchase a plane ticket and made a large tech purchase for blogging. Instead of panicking and freaking out about how I was going to pay all this off, I made a plan to have a no-spend week, or month if I had to. And I don’t mean you can’t buy ANYTHING. Of course, you can buy food and toiletries that you need on a regular basis (i.e. toothpaste, dry shampoo, etc. ) but you cut out all the extras. For me, the hardest thing to limit myself to is makeup. It’s an addiction and I’m working on it. But when I set a goal not to buy frivolous things, guess what?, I don.’t. I don’t want to disappoint myself and make myself more stressed out in the long run. I’m definitely one of those people that would rather limit my spending for a month and pay off my credit card bill sooner.
So there are my tips! I hope they help you in your financial health journey!