It may not seem like it sometimes, but I’m fairly relaxed about money.
Yes I know, I am not in debt any longer and I’ve saved a fair amount in the past 2 years, but this kind of zen, stress-free attitude towards money stems from a few tips I follow as general, guiding principles towards money.
1) I save what I’ve earned to pay myself
It took me a while to learn this one, but I’ve got it now.
Savings = Your True Salary
Earning a salary at your job is your work salary, but after you deduct living expenses and taxes, what are you left with? Your savings.
Every time you save a dollar and choose NOT to spend it on something frivolous that you know you shouldn’t spend on, you’re paying yourself a dollar more.
If you make money but spend every penny of it then you’ve essentially earned nothing in the whole year to show for all those hard days of work.
If you’ve only saved $100 out of your whole working year, then you were only paid $100.
(Of course, I am not counting people in debt here. I’d consider their debt repayments to be like savings).
2) I think and talk about money with others
No brainer here. I love to talk about money.
I’m interested in how people use it, save it, allocate it. It’s fascinating how something like money (a tool), can mean so many different things to so many different people.
I am money curious! Hence why I call myself a “moneythropologist” I guess (anthropologist of money ? ).
I like seeing how it’s used by myself and others.
3) I do all my banking online
Maybe I’m just spoiled from having high speed internet, but I loathe walking into a bank, waiting in line and then having to speak and explain to a teller what I want.
I even pay all of my business taxes online. I manage all my money online, read more about how you can use online banking. I can’t stand mailing in a piece of paper and a cheque any more. It’s so antiquated.
I like having it instantly paid, and off my mind.
If it’s just taking out money, I am uncomfortable asking for any amount of money, because people can hear what a teller is saying and even see her count it out in front of you!
If I could wire transfer everything without paying fees, I would.
4) I track it all because knowing is better than being clueless
You would think that talking, thinking and tracking my money would make me go crazy and become even more stressed out, but the control on my money keeps me stress free because I have a plan and I am executing according to that plan to the best of my abilities.
It’s the NOT knowing about my money, is where I get stressed.
When I was in debt, tallying up those numbers gave me good food for thought.
I couldn’t believe I had debt in the 5-figure range!
But it was a better night’s sleep after I had tallied it all up.
Even today, being well out of debt, I am still tracking and forecasting my income and expenses for the year to see how things will turn out for me.
It gives me a better sense of what I have to pay for, what is coming up and how to manage it so that I can say: Yes, I can pay for that without derailing my goals.
Which brings me to my second point…
5) I don’t procrastinate on paying bills
I have to pay my bills sooner or later, so once an e-bill hits my inbox, I go to the site, download the PDF bill (or make one), and pay it immediately.
Then I log it into my budgeting spreadsheet, mark it as paid and track it in my spending for that month.
If I left all my bills until the end of the month, it would drive me mad to not have enough cash in the bank or whatever else to pay for all of my bills!
I also do a trick with my credit card where I pay the exact amount I spent, so that the balance is always at $0.00 and I owe nothing when it comes time to clear the balance.
If I see the balance go even one penny over, then I know I should check the statements and reconcile, and make sure I am not being overcharged or defrauded.
6) I ask for discounts, rebates, a deal, anything!
Just the other day, I asked if the guy could consider giving me a store discount because I was buying so much.
Immediately, he offered 10%. Now, that’s about $10 back, which might seem like chump change in comparison to what I spent, but $10 is $10.
Even a penny is a penny to me and it is still money.
If you don’t think so, then contact me and send me a billion pennies, please
7) I always tell myself ‘I can’t afford a rock star lifestyle’
This might sound so silly to you, but it works for me.
This is a trick to get myself to remind myself that I might have a lot saved, but it isn’t unlimited.
I don’t go out to spend $50/meal every week, I go once a month.
Or once every 2 months, because I can’t afford to jeopardize my future goals for some food.
Besides, I can’t afford to go out and spend and eat like a rockstar, but I can afford to buy groceries and cook meals fit for a rockstar.
Even when I see something I like, like a purse or a bag, I delay the purchase and check back in weeks, even months to see if I want it any longer.
90% of the time, I don’t, and I’ve just saved myself another unnecessary item with an unnecessary cost.
If I am still looking at it after 3 months, I buy it. A rockstar, wouldn’t even bother waiting. She’d get all the colours in every style and call it a day.
I always check everything I sign and pay for
This goes for contracts, agreements, invoices, bills, receipts. If you’re getting a discount, calculate the discount and make sure they gave it to you.
If you save your receipts, you can also log it into your budgeting sheet, and if you own a business, it’s always a good idea to save your receipts.
9) I (try) not to waste my money on subpar substitutes
Can’t find the right ebook reader? Don’t buy it. Delay the purchase until you find the RIGHT ONE.
I am still holding out for the right ebook reader that will have expandable SD storage and a 9.7″ screen for a decent price. Alas, haven’t found it yet!
10) I buy secondhand when I can
I am not squeamish about most secondhand items. I draw the line at underwear for example, but lightly used makeup for a lower-than-retail? Why not!?
I just clean the eyeshadows and disinfect, and I’m ready to go.
I also don’t mind buying secondhand tops (I can just dryclean/clean them), and anything that can be easily washed and used.
My biggest secondhand purchase has been my car. $1800 and 3 years later, it is still getting me to every city I need to be in.