Q. Every time there’s a “special event,” my friends like to have a pub night. We each spend at least $100 every time, often more when you include taxi fares. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and they consider this another “special event” worth celebrating, but I can’t justify blowing this much cash nearly every weekend. What can you suggest?
A. Spending a little extra on a special occasion every once in a while is one thing; creating special occasions to justify our spending can be extremely costly. So, in the spirit of the season, the lucky leprechaun has some words of wisdom for you.
1. Plan How You are Going to Save Money
Shamrocks are for saving. One of the smartest things you can do for yourself financially is to plan your savings. Unlike the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a pot full of money doesn’t just appear when you need it. Saving up your stash of cash happens a little at a time. As quickly as spending $100 a weekend adds up, so can saving $100 every week.
2. Limit Your the Cash and Plastic in Your Wallet
If you’re not sure that you can skip every “special occasion,” plan to attend one a month. If you miss the social aspect too much, plan something else in between that doesn’t cost so much or go with a limited amount of cash and no plastic. Put $50 in your wallet and when it’s gone, it’s time to go home.
3. Track Your Spending
Think green. Green isn’t just the colour of luck for the Irish; it’s also considered the colour of cash. Think about all the ways you can trim your spending a little at a time. Track your expenses for a month to find out how your cash is “magically” disappearing, and then do something about keeping it safe.
4. Pay Attention to the Small Things - They Always Add Up to More Than You Would Think
Many people start by tracking their bigger expenses, but that’s jumping ahead. Track the smaller amounts that you spend here and there. Grabbing a coffee, picking up a scratch ticket, chipping in for the sports pool… If you spend as little as $3.50 less a day, it will add up to over $100 a month!
5. Setup Automatic Savings
Set up an automatic deposit on pay day to a separate savings account so that you’re not tempted to spend the extra left in your bank account. Every clever leprechaun knows that there’s no magic to managing money, but we do need tricks to keep our cash safe from ourselves.
There’s no time to look for a rainbow if you end up running from one financial storm to the next because you’ve over-spent. Instead, manage your money wisely and create your own pot of gold!