The saying “Money can’t buy you happiness” annoys me because sure, happiness itself isn’t something that can ultimately be bought, but the experiences and life choices that can lead to happiness definitely come easier when money is involved.
Money = Options = Happiness
For example, generally cruises during the summer cost about twice as much as a cruise while school is in session. But there is a deal right now for a 7 day cruise out of Galveston (about an hour and a half from us) that would be $850 per person. That’s only about $150 more than the off-season and our two teacher friends could actually come with us. They are looking at whether they can make it or not. I’m just happy that my husband and I can splurge on a couple of tickets without hurting our current finances at all. If we didn’t have cash on hand, we wouldn’t have even been able to bring the idea up at all. Padding means options and options can lead to happiness.
In a less direct route, remember when I worked for a soulless company for 6 years? I was only able to make the leap to self-employment because we saved up enough padding to protect ourselves. If we were living paycheck-to-paycheck, taking a risk on myself may not have happened.
Now, you are probably thinking, “Great, cash is good. Duh. How is that supposed to help me?” Because if you truly understand the importance of padding and the importance of options, then you will be even more motivated to find ways of saving.
And the key to managing your finances is simply finding the balance between what you are willing to sacrifice vs. how you want to live now and in your future.
Here are some ways to save a ton of money. You only need to be able to accept 1 to make a difference, so don’t feel like it’s all or nothing.
- Roommates. You can check Craigslist to see how much rooms are renting out for in your area. It may surprise you.
- No Car. Cars cost money. They cost money up front and money to maintain. Heck, it even comes with added costs like car insurance.
- Eat out less or not at all. Making your own food is cheaper and healthier. It just is.
- Don’t buy “stuff”. You need pants, blouses, shirts, shoes, etc. But you don’t need 20 pairs of pants, 100 shirts, 50 pairs of shoes, etc. The more stuff you own, the more stuff you have to maintain, and the more money you spent on “stuff” rather than your priorities.
- Travel Cheap or Not at All. One thing usually needs to give for something else to thrive. This whole list is about that.
- Don’t Have Costly Habits. Daily habits that cost money will add up FAST. Almost anything is affordable once in a while, but hardly anything is affordable every day. This can be anything – smoking, drinking, donuts, coffee, etc. Even $1 a day adds up. If you have a habit, try it in moderation if you can’t give it up completely right off the bat.
- Don’t Have Pets. They cost about $500 a year or more depending on the animal and their issues. Again, if you don’t want to give up other stuff, than you have to sacrifice somewhere.
- Second Job / Side Hustle. I know that finding time is hard, but one sacrifice could be to work even more.
I know that the list is daunting. I know that not everyone can find friends for roommates. The point isn’t that you need to give up everything. The point is that when you aren’t willing to budge in one area, you will need to find an area that you can budge on instead.
For example, my husband and I will cut back on how much we eat out sometimes, but we rather not stop eating out completely. We also need two cars, want pets, and we like to travel. But we don’t mind having our friends as roommates, we don’t have any daily habits that cost money, we are solid moderates when it comes to buying “stuff”, and we both have side hustles that we enjoy (sports officiating for him and pet sitting for me). So we don’t have to sacrifice anything we value since we can budge in other areas.
What about you? Do you do anything on the list? Are you able to live happily now and save for your future? If so, how? If not, what would you be willing to sacrifice to have more money and options?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!