How To Save Money When You Don't Make A Lot Of It

If you were around town on Tuesday, you probably saw the giveaway I had going on offering up free cash. As soon as that baby went up there was an outpour of comments from all of you letting me know how much you wanted, er, needed to win it. From buying things to furnish a new apartment, to using it towards Christmas presents, to straight up wanting to just be completely selfish with it...you all really, really, REALLY wanted some free cash. But then again, who doesn't right?

Unfortunately, I'm not here to wave my blog wand in your face and make that happen for you. (Insert sad puppy dog face here.) But I am going to offer up a little advice on how to make some free cash appear right before you very eyes through a little trick I like to call "saving". Now I'm certainly no self-proclaimed "pro" in the saving money department and I'm nowhere near making enough bank to have it come easy to me, but I  do think I have a pretty good grasp on this whole "pinching pennies" part of life. And since my methods are working for me, I figured I might as well share what knowledge I do have in the hopes that I may (or most likely probably not) help someone else out.

All you need is a few magic beans, a little hard work and a whole lot of discipline...and before you know it you'll see that goal you've been so desperately aiming for sitting pretty in your savings account just like I did this year. Here are my words of wisdom for the day:

I see you scratching your head at me already. That's probably because it's the exact opposite of what everyone else has told you whenever you've tried to stash the dolla bills away for later use. But it's important because it'll save you in the long run. This isn't a get rich quick scheme. If it was I'd be on a yacht sailing around Australia petting all the platypuses I could get my hands on by now. Instead, I'm shacking up with a roommate in the cheapest apartment I could find in Manhattan that didn't come with a slew of rats and cockroaches. 

Anyway, these steps are what I like to call "a sensible solution" to saving money…and continuing to save money…and continuing to save money. And establishing good credit after getting yourself that credit card will absolutely save you in the long run. Lower interest rates, frequent flier miles, and even getting cash back are just some of the ways good credit can be beneficial. You just have to make sure you're using that credit card effectively in order to reap the rewards instead of falling in the bankruptcy trap. Which brings us to the second item on my list...

This has been my motto since the exact day I was handed my very first credit card (complete with $500 credit limit and scenic view of a beautiful beach). I now put everything I purchase on that very same card (credit limit increased). Every single damn thing. From my $1300 laptop to my $3 bag of gummy peach rings; it all goes on there. I do this so that I can show my credit card company that I'm responsible with large sums of money. Well, large to my bank account anyway… I'm no Mark Zuckerberg.

But here's the thing, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing goes on my card if it will exceed the amount I have in my savings account ready to pay it off in full that month. If my monthly credit card bill is $800, you better believe I have $800 sitting in my Bank of America account at the end of the billing cycle to hit the "pay entire balance" button on my credit card statement. I've never had a single ounce of credit card debt this way. I've never paid a single penny of interest this way. If the money isn't in your bank account then you can't physically buy whatever it is you're attempting to buy at that specific moment. It's as simple as that. So get yourself a credit card, but think of it, and use it, as a debit card and you'll be just fine.

Say your goal was to accumulate $10,000 in savings by the end of this year. Now let's say you've reached that goal. Yay, good for you, you win lots of hugs and kisses! So now you're all excited because you finally hit the number that you didn't imagine was even possible to hit, so you have this vision of yourself rolling in dough and being set for awhile. So then you end up going and purchasing three pairs of heels from Steve Madden, a fluffy flannel bed set from Target, plus that really cute mug you've been seeing all over Instagram, oh and don't forget a sparkly new vest for your fur baby this winter. 

But it's all okay because you reached your savings goal, right? 

Wrong! Once you finally get to that goal of yours you need to then imagine it as your bottom line; your zero; your absolute poorest. Just like you would never want to be in the red or the negative in terms of savings, you now don't ever want to see yourself dipping below your previous bench marked goal. So even though you now have $10,000 sitting there ready to be spent on whosywhatsits and wingdingers, you really have NO money sitting there ready to be spent on whosywhatsits and wingdingers. And that's because you're going to need to constantly keep yourself above that level. 

Of course everyone needs to reward themselves after reaching goals, though, so save yourself an additional small amount of money and then go purchase some crap you don't really need (but obviously really need) from Target with it. Because saving money shouldn't always be a ball and chained chore. Just keep in mind that you want to aim on keeping yourself above that bottom line and you'll have your needed motivation to continuously keep saving.

This one's pretty straight forward. I'm lazy as shit when it comes to doing anything related to the mailman. What exactly is a post office again? Stamps cost what these days? Yeah, that's just the kind of person I am when it comes to the postal service. So when bills comes to my apartment in the form of things I actually have to take action and respond to, I'm all like "who, what, where, when, why, and how?" Add that onto the fact that I just seem to forget stupid and pointless things like having to pay bills and we have ourselves one hell of a cluster fuck. 

Take for instance when I opened up an Old Navy/Gap/Banana card and bought myself six grey and white striped t-shirts (my uniform, if you will) and received the bill in the mail three weeks later. Yeah, that thing got thrown straight into the recycling bin along with every other letter enticing me to sign up for something I don't want or need. Another three weeks roll around and the shit storm that is a late fee and me freaking out over said late fee ensues. But guess who wouldn't have had a late fee (aka a negative dip into the savings) if she had just set up auto pay? Point proven. 

It's 20almost14, utilize the wide world of the web, people. That way you have no choice in whether or not you use that extra hundred bucks to pay your utility bill or buy that new pair of ripped denim skinnies you've been wanting. The technology makes up your mind for you; the decision you should be making yourself.

The most simple, yet the most difficult, yet the absolute most important one on this list. The only thing that's really going to buff up your bank account besides winning the lottery is your determination. So put those adolescent "just say no" skills to use not only in the war on drugs but also in the war on shopping and spending. Immediately unsubscribe from any and all emails you receive from retail stores. Because even though you can get one item 50% off and all subsequent items 30% off, that shit still isn't free. You'd still be forking over money you shouldn't be spending. So resist the temptation by not allowing anyone to do the tempting. Don't walk into the clothing section of Target if you only need face wash. Go buy $40 worth of groceries to bring your lunches to work instead of going out to eat everyday. 

Put some of these skills to use, view your savings account as a mountain, and keep on climbing. You may stumble, you may get tired of the constant effort needed to carry on, but you will reap the rewards if you keep on keeping on. And at the end of the day you just need to simply train your mind to be better and in turn you will be better. Your savings account balance will be the proof.