I was trying to write about why everyone should be able to reach FI when I thought about this. Then this just had to be written first. It’s a short read. Look out for that other thing in two to three days.
Here’s the thing. I think anyone can reach FI, I really do. I think there’s also a line between saving every penny you get and enjoying life. On the other hand, there are a few things that you need to stop if you really want to reach your goal. Here’s a list.
Be recreational and party… at home.
I have friends in the service industry that complain about never having any money. When you ask how much they made in tips, you find out that they spent that money going to a bar and grabbing cigarettes on the way home. In states where certain drugs are legal, the same thing stands.
If you want to save money, grow your own (where legal), buy a six pack, and stop smoking. Once you do these things, each pay check take the money you would have spent on those things and put it into a savings account not to be touched. So, if you spent $10 a week on cigarettes you now get $40 a month into savings.
Local or not, skip the coffee shop.
I love local coffee shops. I don’t go to them but maybe once every month or so. I have many friends that ask how I can afford what I can while still saving money. I ask them how many times a week they go to Starbucks. It answers their question.
Buy a coffee maker, supplies, and get good. I have a relative that makes coffee (the kind Starbucks makes) from home with just regular coffee and stuff from the fridge, no fancy tools or coffee makers. It took her a while to get it right, but she saves tons a month. Use this money to pay off credit cards, loans, and other bills faster.
Movies are fun, but pricey.
I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Like two days ago. Why? because it finally came out on Netflix. We try to limit our movies outings to two to four a year. Then we let the other movies come to us (through red box for $2 or on Netflix for free)
This year, we’re going to see Star Wars on opening day (today.) Try what we do, or just go to matinees (middle of the day movies are always cheaper.) Use that money to add more into your Roth IRA for 401k.
Cell phones, internet, TV, home phones… too much.
We have internet and cell phones. We don’t have cable, dish, or home phone. Why should we? It saves us hundreds a year and we don’t miss on anything. Need to see a sports game? Go to a bar and order a single drink and appetizer or better yet, pot luck at a friend’s house. For cell phones, go with the cheapest you can for what you need.
Verizon is expensive, but they have the best service. T moble is cheaper, but I hear their service is crap. Due to our fields and work, we need better service, but you might not. If you do, try to work out a partial payment from your boss, especially if you use your cell phone for work (don’t forget to write that on taxes.)
Cook from home. Breakfast too!
Pack your lunch and you will save tons. Eat dinner before going out and you will save even more. Tonight, when we go to the movies, we will be eating chili from home beforehand. We could go out and spend money to sit down, but we’re saving lots by eating at home (and the chili I made was pretty good.)
Eat breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day and people that eat breakfasts are often healthier and in better shape than those that don’t. Eat toast, an apple, grits, oatmeal, hash browns, English muffin, muffin, or yogurt. It will make you less hungry throughout the day and keep you from buying a snack for the vending machine at work.
These tips won’t make you rich and they aren’t intended to pull the fun from life. My hope is that they will help you find new ways to save and cheaper ways to have fun (& eat.) Fun is important.
To do even more, download Mint onto your phone. Hook up all your accounts and make budgets. We have been positive more and more by using this app. It has taught us how to keep in budget better and even helped us see problem areas we didn’t even know we had. I love it. (And I’m not paid to say that.)