I received a lot of positive feedback on last week’s post about living the extravagant life. I sincerely appreciate it! I’ve included a few of my favorite shared responses on seemingly small things that you have found help you live the extravagant life, as long as you take the time to stop and appreciate them. You can find these at the bottom of this email.*
I often hear from friends that they don’t know where their money goes each month and struggle to track it and control spending. With those comments in mind, here are some suggestions:
1. Leave Your Cards at Home and Carry Cash
If you are really struggling to spend below your means or often return from a night out only to find you spent more than you intended (again!), I suggest leaving your credit cards at home. You are a lot less likely to overspend if you go out for the evening with only $20 in your pocket. When the $20 is spent, you won’t have another option, making it so you can’t overspend.
2. Store Your Cards in a Block of Ice
If carrying cash still isn’t cutting it for you…because you find yourself giving in to temptation and grabbing a card at the last minute, try storing your cards in a block of ice in your freezer. I recently heard this suggestion, and I think it’s a good one…and hilarious! By freezing your cards in a block of ice you can still:
- Maintain an open line of credit (and a longer history of credit is a positive thing when it comes to your credit score)
- Use the card for emergencies (after you’ve ice picked or melted your way through)
- Continue to use those cards for monthly expenses where you have set up automatic online bill pay (since you don’t actually need the card)
3. De-Link Your Cards from Frequently Used Sites
For both of the above suggestions to become especially valuable, you will likely need to de-link your credit cards from the online sites where you find yourself frequently shopping…Amazon, anyone? Delete your cards from these sites so you can no longer “buy now with 1-click.” Now, you’ll actually have to look up your card’s information…which is currently surrounded by ice!
4. Improve Your Health
I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t want to become healthier. If you have goals to both become healthier AND spend less, why not combine them? See how much you can save every week by skipping your regular purchase of an afternoon snack or a late-night treat, packing your lunch, or not buying any sweets at the grocery store. You could also swap out every soda you would normally buy for free, refreshing, healthy water. With every unhealthy food purchase you forgo, move that money to your savings account.
If you find yourself buying Groupons you don’t ever use or shopping on sites because they send you emails about new deals and sales, I recommend you simply unsubscribe. If these deals aren’t delivered straight to your inbox, you are less likely to give in to them – because you won’t even know about them. You can unsubscribe proactively by searching for “unsubscribe” in your inbox, deciding which emails should go, and clicking the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email.
6. Save Your Raise
Next time you get a raise or bonus, try using only a small amount to reward yourself, but then use the rest to increase your savings or pay down your debt. When you never start spending the money, you won’t usually miss it.
Another way to tackle this is when your car payment or your student loan payments end, immediately start saving that exact amount each month. That could be a couple hundred dollars a month, which will really add up.
7. Try Using Personal Capital or Mint
I’ve received several comments and questions in regard to free personal finance tracking tools. Both mint.com and personalcapital.com seem to be popular options. I used Mint for a while a few years ago, just to see what all my friends were asking me about but mostly stuck to my spreadsheets. However, a month or so ago I decided to use Personal Capital. I was sick of checking each of my accounts regularly and manually tracking things in Excel.
Now, I find it very convenient to check all my balances and transactions in one place instead of logging into all my accounts separately. I also find it valuable to see my net worth tracked daily, as opposed to quarterly or annually, which I used to do. If I am saving every month, I see my net worth increase in real time every month. I find that motivating! Another benefit is that you can easily do a quick filter on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, etc. Without doing very much work (except updating some classifications for how transactions are categorized every once in a while), you can quickly see how much you’re spending on what, and over various time periods (weekly, monthly, annually, etc.).
These sites will likely link to all of your accounts, including your 401(k). If they don’t, you can always add an account manually and update date it on occasion (such as monthly or quarterly).
You can read about the security of both Personal Capital and Mint here:
I hope these tips give you some additional ideas for tracking your spending and increasing your savings. What suggestions do you have?
Let’s spend wisely and Let Luc!
*Shared examples of living extravagantly:
- Riding a bike to and from work on a paved trail
- Adding a lemon wedge to a glass of water enjoyed at home
- Communicating easily with friends and family, wherever they live, via texts, email, FaceTime, etc.
- Having a portable electronic map that can help avoid traffic and navigate the best route to an unknown place
- Sleeping with a pillow topper on an already fancy mattress
- Adding fancy bath salts to a long, warm bath
Thanks again for sharing!