I am a “single” young woman actually living and thriving at the age of 25. I live in a tricked out condo, work out like a maniac, eat well, have great hair, and still have enough money at the end of the month to stow away in savings and splurge every now and then. I have a few friends who are around my age who envy what I have. But the truth is, it’s really not that hard. Especially when you see how much (or little) I actually have to live off of.
The truth is in 2012 I made about $18,000-$22,000 before taxes. I was just beginning the real estate career with mom and my Pure Romance business was beginning to dwindle. I also lost an extra paying adult in my condo which doubled my living expenses overnight. Yet, I have somehow managed to escape foreclosure and the bill collectors, and on time at that.
The secret? Discipline. How boring is that? I feel like I have teased too much and given too little for it so I will continue to delve. When I was little my parents brought my sister and I up on a very strict ideal about money: Yes, we know you want it, but do you actually need it. This question was raised each and every time we asked for our allowance money to purchase anything we liked, whether it was clothes, a toy, or even a book. “Yes, I know you want it, but do you actually need it?” And this would make our little impulsive minds think a little. Did I really need that $25 sweater from Limited Too? Do I really have to have the newest video game? Would my entire existence be shattered if I couldn’t buy the charm bracelets with the Best and Friends printed on the hearts? I got oddly specific there. Usually, the answer I gave myself was “no” and I would put it away and keep on walking. Every now and then the want would override the question of need so much that it did become a need and my parents would hand over our hard earned $5 a week allowance money with a warning. “Just remember, you won’t have this money for something you really need.” To this day, I still can’t go out shopping without feeling this inexplicable guilt over spending my money on something I want instead of something I need.
So, what things have I gone without to save money on the things I want and actually have that extra money for the things I need? I have compiled quite a list. Rest assured that bathing and basic maintenance have not been skipped in order to save money.
Want: A gym-toned body
Traditional Way: I started out with a membership to one beauty of a fancy gym. It had the works: the treadmills, ellipticals, tons of classes including Zumba and pilates, even a shower room. But it also cost me $35 a month and a yearly membership renewal fee of the dues so once a year I was being hit with $70 in gym fees. And I didn’t lose all that much weight. I think at some points I actually gained. Then things started to sour. There was a lady who insisted on getting buck naked before getting into the largest shower stall and I would get stuck in the tiny one. Add having to see her get in and out of the shower after not being able to shave my legs…yeah, I was ticked. I also got tired of having to drive a ways to get to the gym and started sleeping in. Then I stopped going all together. Those were the dark days. I gained 12 pounds.
My Way: I hated feeling like I HAD to exercise because of the gym membership and I started feeling flabby. I bought a few workout DVDs for $10 tops, asked for a WII with Zumba Fitness for Christmas, and actually received the P90-X system as a gift. Over time, I slowly added dumbbells and a pull up bar to my home gym and I hardly missed to money at all. Just as I got stronger, I would slowly add on. It is also great that I have a gorgeous nature trail within a mile’s drive from my house. I can run there all I want for free and the view is amazing.
Money Saved: I stopped going to my fancy gym last May and started working out at home. If I had continued the membership, I would have paid $420 over the past year. Since working out at home, I have spent money on 8 pound dumbbells ($20), 15 pound dumbbells ($30), Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred Workout ($8), and a pull up bar ($20). That’s $78 in total for the past year, leaving a healthy $342 in savings and those 12 pounds are gone!
Want: To watch my favorite shows and movies
Traditional Way: I began with the basic cable package with Comporium when I first moved in to The Treehouse. The monthly fee was $50. That’s a lot for a reader/blogger/ain’tnobodygottimeforthat kind of girl like me. After one year, I went cold turkey from cable. And I haven’t looked back in three years.
My Way: I began subscribing to Netflix and Hulu at first. The fees are nominal with Netflix being $8.55 a month and Hulu coming in at $7.99. Movies aren’t really a big issue since Tim is a humongous movie hoarder and has a sizable collection. Then there’s also Redbox with their less than $2 rental fees. It’s a sweet deal. Tim and I have discussed me dropping Netflix and just sharing passwords for the accounts since we are together most of the time anyway.
Money Saved: Over the past three years, when I could have been spending $1800 (yeah, did that lump sum hit you in the face hard like it did me?) on basic cable, I have been living fancy free with laptop only show streaming for $595.44. That’s a savings of $1204.56 that I am more than happy to entertain. And there are a lot of families that are hopping on the band wagon.
Want: Perfect hair
Traditional Way: I used to have my own personal stylist back in Lancaster. She was amazing. I loved her so very much, and then I moved away. I knew absolutely no one who could do my hair. So I started going to a chain hair salon where I would get a different stylist every time. Plus, it would cost me $15 every two months for a less than awesome haircut. One day, after a particularly bad haircut, I decided to fix the mess myself and it turned out fabulous. So I started playing with the idea of just doing it myself.
My Way: It started out with my bangs and then I began branching out to the rest of my locks. I have two tutorials, one for the bangs and one for a basic ponytail haircut.
Money Saved: My haircuts since December of 2011 have been free, so given that I am saving about $15 every 2 months, that is a savings of $90 a year. Doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s a great savings on top of knowing my hair is in good hands.
If I tally these small changes up, I am looking at an extra $833.52 in my pocket per year! Here comes the fun part…
What you could buy with that savings money:
An entire wardrobe of clothes from Plato’s Closet!
A round-trip plane ticket to Las Vegas or a week long all inclusive cruise!
A sofa, ottoman, and side table from IKEA!
Or you can put back the savings in a CD or even retirement account and watch the savings grow! Just some quick number crunching (excuse me while I adjust my nerd glasses in an upright position).
Initial Investment: $800
5% One year CD: $40.75
Over five years: $225.62
Total Savings: $1225.62 (Ka-ching!)
What do you do to create some savings in your life? What would you spend it on?