We are a generation that puts a premium on “living our best lives.” Just look at our social media accounts, which are teeming with photos of us doing crazy things, going to beautiful places and accomplishing impressive feats.
When we're flipping through our newsfeeds, we see these pictures of other people and it's completely natural to feel left out. We're envious of our tangential friends' amazing lives, and we're left contemplating how we can capture the same fabulousness. We check out the first airline that comes to mind and look at flights to Europe, just to compete. And that's when it hits us: We just don't have enough money to do anything that cool!
Well, I'm here to tell you that this frame of mind just isn't true. You know how people are able to afford awesome trips and once-in-a-lifetime experiences? They budget. They save money. And then, in a few months, they have enough to make it happen.
If you're in need of inspiration, here's a guide of how to live your best life on a tight budget.
1. Get a membership to a big box store.
For a relatively small annual fee, you can have a membership to a big box store. Once you have that card, you have unlocked a magical world where you can buy things in bulk, making each item in your pack cheaper than anything you've ever dreamed of. Ten boxes of tissues for 8 dollars? Don't mind if I do. Twelve sticks of deodorant for 20 dollars? I'll take two packs, because deodorant is usually heinously expensive.
Take that card to the store and never look back.
2. Pause your gym membership when the weather is nice.
When the weather is dismal, a gym membership makes perfect sense (as long as you go at least three times a week to make the money worth your while). But when the weather is nice, who needs the treadmill? Take advantage of running in the sun and yoga in the park and pause that gym membership. The treadmill will still be there in the winter.
3. Do NOT buy clothes the moment you fall in love with them.
We've all fallen in love with a piece of clothing after seeing it in the window of our favorite store. But even if you try it on immediately and it fits like a dream, resist the urge to buy it on the spot. Wait a few weeks because there is a very good chance it'll go on sale either in-store or online. Think of the regret you'd feel paying 100 dollars for something that is marked down to 40 dollars just a few weeks later.
4. And always buy clothes at the end of the season for the next year.
The cheapest clothes are always sold at the end of the season, so stock up then!
It's worth it to pack them away for next year, but there are also items that you can wear regardless of the season. For example, if you buy a super cute chambray dress, you can pair it with tights for the winter. Or if you invest in a short-sleeve button down, you can pair it with a cardigan when the weather turns cold.
Bottom line: You GOTTA hack your closet to make it work for you!
5. Travel with friends.
Plan a vacation with a few of your closest friends so you can defray the cost of traveling. You'll pay less for your hotel room, and you'll save money by sharing entrees at fancy must-visit restaurants and splitting the cost of a rental car.
6. Use your credit card to rack up rewards points.
If you have a credit card that accrues points when you spend money, then use that card to pay for everyday purchases and take advantage of that great perk. You'll earn points along the way and when you pay off your bill at the end of each month, you'll be especially pleased to see what those quickly-accumulating points can get you.
It's free money, y'all!
7. There is a right way and a wrong way to do cultural events.
You have to keep yourself cultured by going to museums, plays and concerts, but there's a smart way to do it. Sign up for ticket lotteries that let you buy cheaper and (most of the time) better tickets. Check out what nights your favorite museums offer free admission, and buy day-of concert tickets on re-selling sites.
The final step, of course, is to Instagram the hell out of whatever it is you're doing.
8. Pregame at someone's apartment before you head out for the night.
Have wine at home with friends THEN go out to a hot bar and order just one drink there. You'll soak up the ambiance without spending a ton of money on bottle service and overpriced cocktails.
9. Be thrifty every day so you can really ball out on big occasions.
Here's the main takeaway from this article: If you make an effort to save money every ordinary day of your life, you can really go big on the special days of your life.
By cutting back here and there and being smart about how you make your purchases, you can really be a baller when you go on vacation or splurge on a night out. All the scrimping and saving will be totally worth it when you see the comments on your social media photos.