Advice for Saving Money
By: Alana James
Originally published by Lithium Magazine
There is nothing more frustrating than being concerned about money—especially at a young age when we are supposed to be living our “best” lives. If you’re anything like me, you love saving your money because it makes you feel secure. However, there will be sometimes when I walk past a jacket that I know would look amazing on me, or when I want to get my favourite snack at the mall—even though it cost $6 for just one. Though, lately there is something else that is becoming more prominent in my life: being pressured to spend money. Sometimes people don’t realize they’re doing it, but either way, the end result is the same: feeling like I don’t have a choice. Here are some tips for saving money and creating the right atmosphere for yourself as you do it.
Saying “No” When Pressured to Spend
This can be hard, because it may feel like you are being too harsh towards the other person. Some ways to politely decline are by saying:
I don’t really need that.
Maybe I’ll buy it later.
There’s something I’m saving up for/ I’m saving up my money.
Nah, I’m good.
These ways allow the other person to understand you don’t want to spend money, while also allowing you to keep your specific reasons to yourself—because you’re allowed to keep some things private. If the other person doesn’t leave it at that and continues to pressure you, or starts asking more questions than you are comfortable with in regards to your money, then don’t be afraid to become more stern with your replies. Saying “I don’t want to talk about it.” or “Can we just leave it at that?” doesn’t make you a rude person. You have the right to your privacy and control how you spend your own money. Try to change the subject to keep the situation from becoming tense. Things like, “You can still buy it if you want,” “Why don’t we go check out…” or “You know what this reminds me of?” are good ways of trying to steer the conversation in a new direction. The important thing to remember is, whether the other person knows it or not, continuously asking you to spend is a type of peer pressure and is unacceptable, so don’t feel wary about standing up for yourself in that type of situation.
Explaining Your Situation
Though you are entitled to your privacy, something I have learned is that it can be much easier in the long run to explain some of your situation to your friends. This can help them be more considerate and understanding. You don’t have to explain everything if you don’t feel comfortable. Simply saying “Money is kind of tight lately” is enough. Personally, I had to be more direct with some of my friends who come from money in comparison to my friends who are in similar situations as me, and I didn’t even have to specify anything—they just got it. People come from different backgrounds and have experienced different things, so be aware of that when trying to figure out the best approach with a specific person.
This can be perhaps the toughest part. Keeping your money secure takes a lot of self obedience, especially nowadays when people carry cards on them more than cash—making it so much easier to spend money since you physically aren’t affecting the contents in your wallet. Budgeting doesn’t mean you can’t buy anything ever. It more so means you are more aware of what you need and put that as your first priority. If you’re going to the mall for one thing, don’t wander into five other stores if you know the temptation will be too strong. Something that might help is to make a list of things based on their importance. The first things on the list should be bills and other important payments. If you are saving up for something in particular, it is a good idea to set aside a certain amount of money every month (or whatever time period works best for you). Also, you could set up a savings account at your bank, so that you can separate the money used for bills from your everyday money which would be in your checking.
You’d be surprised how many free activities there are. Even if some things seem like they won’t be all that entertaining, the person you go with can make all the difference. Simply searching “Free Events In ________” will give you a long list of things to do. You can also sign up for newsletters for museums, community centers, art centers, and more! These places often have events going on—free of charge. Even a general magazine for your city will usually mention free things to do. Another option is to simply go people-watching or window shopping. Something me and my friends do when we are all out of money is go walking around in Target. It may not seem like the best thing to do, but as mentioned before, the person you go with can make all the difference. Make the best of your situation! Even if you are saving money, it’s not healthy to stay cooped up in the house all day. One day me and my friends absolutely couldn't take it anymore and just had to get out of the house. It was pretty late at night, and we were as broke as it comes. So we went to Target, and (with the permission of the workers) played a themed fashion show game in the clothing section for the last 20 minutes the store was open. Don’t feel like you are out of options because of your financial situation. Try and think out of the box—the world is full of too many opportunities to be confining yourself inside of one.
It can be hard finding a reason to keep saving up money. There have been plenty of times where I’ve thought “I should just YOLO it and live life while I’m young”. However, life isn’t like in the movies or music videos, and you can’t just “YOLO” everything for the sake of living in the moment. Doing that would only give you temporary happiness, and the goal is to have more than just momentary bliss. Ways to stay motivated are to surround yourself with supportive people, don’t compare your life to others’, find role models who have gone through similar situations as you, and keep your goal in mind. Be aware of who is understanding and considerate of your situation, because if someone makes you feel insecure or discourages you because you choose to save your money, then you may need to analyze your relationship with them and reconsider how much of a friend they really are. In regards to comparing your life to others, something that helped me is going through my social media and either unfollowing certain accounts or going into settings and making it so I wouldn’t see certain people’s posts. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting to post themselves living their “best lives” on social media, but as someone who can’t even afford a Frappuccino at Starbucks, it really doesn’t help my self esteem seeing someone on their tenth trip abroad in the past six months posing while fully dressed in Gucci. Don’t let your financial situation define your relationships, but try and figure out what you feel comfortable exposing yourself to. Finding role models, or characters in general who are going through similar things as you is a lot more helpful than you may realize. As a Korean drama fan, I feel super empowered and energized when I see a female protagonist from an average or lower class background become successful because of her hard work or being happy with the life she has. Finally, make sure to keep your goal in sight. This is ultimately the thing that will keep you going when things get hard. Without a goal, things can seem a lot less worth it than they are. Find your overall reason for saving money; what do you want to accomplish? How will this better your life? What will I gain? As the famous saying goes: “Keep your eye on the prize”.
Another important thing to remember while you save is that you aren’t alone. This topic isn’t something that’s really advertised in all the Disney movies we watched while growing up, but it’s a reality that many young people go through. If you really feel separated from everyone else, or like being low on money is starting to seem like a taboo in your community, maybe start a club for people going through the budget lifestyle as well! It could be a place to encourage each other and keep each other on track. It doesn’t even have to be a club, simply knowing someone else who’s saving up can help. Whatever you choose, as long as you surround yourself with people who are there for you in hard times, you will feel comfortable and content with yourself - and that’s the most important thing.