In a world where financial stability can feel like a distant dream for many in the Millennial and Gen Z generations, the journey towards savings might seem like a daunting uphill battle. The challenges of soaring living costs, inflation, student loan debt, and often lower-paying entry-level jobs can leave many feeling overwhelmed and financially strained. The majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck due to these challenges & also struggle with finding real solutions because let’s face it, “save 10% of your paycheck” is not really a feasible option for the majority of us. However, there are realistic and achievable ways to build a savings cushion, make money on the side without resorting to extreme measures like getting another job & mindfully manage your spending. Let’s explore some top tips that not only empower but also resonate with the unique financial situations faced by many during this time.
Tailor Budgeting to YOUR Lifestyle:
Traditional budgeting methods may feel too restrictive for the dynamic lifestyles of many people. Most people are just not living & are only surviving, that’s a fact. It’s hard getting through life enough as it is, so we should be able to look forward to the little things, such as being able to treat ourselves. However we also want to make sure we’re not going on a manic spending spree to boost our serotonin. (As it does provides high levels of Serotonin, you would be experiencing low levels your bank account. We don’t want that.)
So what can you do? Instead, consider adopting a more flexible approach. Allow yourself to categorize your spending and set realistic financial goals for yourself & for the current situation you’re in. Personally, I’m a visual/hands on learner. On my calendar I wrote out all of my bills on the day they are due. Once I had a clear vision of what bills I was paying, I started cancelling unnecessary bills. Although these kinds of expenses, keep me entertained, such as streaming services, they aren’t going to help my budget.
I had to make some sacrifices & get rid of what wasn’t serving my budget. Bad impulsive shopping habits, ditched the greedy streaming services, I got more of a grip on myself when it came to my spending & for the most part, I buy things I need, with the occasional treat for myself because its still important to treat yourself. By aligning your budget with your unique preferences and spending habits, you’ll be better equipped to save without feeling like you have nothing to show for. Making small sacrifices like getting rid of your favorite streaming services seems impossible but I promise you, once you do you’ll see the difference in your bank account & you’ll ask “What else should I cancel?”
Embrace the “Side Hustle” Revolution:
Acknowledging that traditional 9-to-5 jobs might not always cover the bills, explore the world of side hustles if you’re trying to find another source of income. No you don’t have to join an MLM. Leverage your skills & interests by looking for side hustles that are oriented around your skills & interests. This enables you to monetize your talents without committing to a second full-time job. Whether it’s graphic design, writing, streaming or odd jobs, a side hustle can significantly boost your income.
Like the Joker says in The Dark Knight: “When you’re good at something, you don’t do it for free”. Notorious yes, but was he onto something? 11 year old me definitely thought so. If you notice something that you love to do has the potential to bring in money & aligns with you, go for it. You definitely should not be wasting your energy using your skills & gifts for free just for anyone whether or not they’re an employer or a family member/friend. Just know that someone who recognizes & respects your skills will be more than willing to pay you what you’re worth.
For example, let’s take this imaginary person, we’ll call her Stacy. Let’s say that Stacy found that she has a love for making home remedies & tinctures for her friends & family. But she feels exhausted about it at the same time because she has family members asking her to make these things for them for free. (The audacity.) Well one day one of her friends tell her, “You need to start selling these!” & that was all it took to get her to see what she wanted to do. Did she get pushback from family members who demanded discounts/free product? She certainly did. But she didn’t care, only because she had other family members & friends buying from her & referring her brand to others. That was enough proof for her to see that her gifts & talents aren’t something to be wasted, especially if she’s putting in all of her energy into it. That way it’s still something she loves to do & it’s something she’s doing for herself.
Cultivate a “Mindful” Spending Mindset:
More on cutting expenses, yay! Okay maybe not but it’s not just about cutting expenses, it’s also about spending consciously. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it aligns with your values and goals. Most importantly, ask yourself if your purchase will bring you long term happiness or just temporary happiness? For me, if I’m interested in something I like to think about how that thing can add more functionality & practicality to my home or my life in general. Especially on weeks where money is tight & have to be constantly checking myself. Ways of doing that are asking myself questions such as: “Is this my aesthetic/ is this me?” If it’s not “You” don’t get it because if it’s not something for you & something you’re just getting to have, you don’t need it. Second thing I ask myself “Do I have room for this?” I live in an apartment so I have to make sure everything not only has a place but that its also not in the way. Which leads me to the last thing I ask myself when shopping “How is this going to serve me?/How will this make my life easier?” If a purchase can make our lives easier, sign us up. If it’s gonna sit there & look cute, without serving a purpose, trust me when I say you don’t need it.
Society expects us to constantly be comparing each other. Who’s got the biggest house, the nicest car, the best job, the cutest squishmellow, etc. This leaves a lot of us feeling like we need to buy all of this materialistic bullsh*t we don’t need in order to be accepted by society. Then some of us buy these kinds of things to try & make ourselves happier or to try & fill some void but most of these things we buy only bring temporary happiness because they weren’t serving us to begin with. When money is tight, there comes a time where we have to start making choices for ourselves to start easing into making the necessary changes in our lives. As I mentioned in Budgeting, we have to make the small sacrifices sometimes.
Once you realize all of the money we spend is towards a lot of greedy corporations who wanna keep us broke, it puts things into perspective. We have the power to spend all of our money on them & they know that because we keep coming back to them like someone going back to their toxic ex. However, we also have the power to stop spending our money on them & spend our money on small businesses who deserve it & spending it on things that make our lives easier, not harder. Like getting into gardening so you don’t have to shop at the store where you don’t know how our food is being handled. We have the kind of power to put corporations out of business & those corporations definitely know that. Which is why Capitalism tries popping off so hard, it’s to get you to spend more money. I’m not saying you can’t buy your candles from target anymore. You should allow yourself to have a budget of “fun money” so you don’t burn out but something important to be aware of is who you’re giving your money to. This mindful approach to spending can assist in tracking and optimizing your spending habits & help you identify unnecessary expenses & redirect those funds towards savings/emergencies & fun money.
In conclusion. Saving money & bettering our financial situation in the face of financial challenges requires creativity, adaptability, and a strategic mindset. By adopting a combination of budgeting, investing in your skills, and being mindful as you spend, you can pave the way to financial success. Remember, it’s not about the amount you save but the habits you cultivate. The journey to financial stability is a marathon, not a sprint & hopefully these tips provide a roadmap for you to thrive. Don’t feel discouraged or feel like you are “behind” everyone else. You are not behind. You are exactly where you need to be. Take your time because everyone’s journey is different. Don’t compare your journey to everyone else’s.