Oh Gen Bs – where does our money go?! If you’re astounded by your weekly outgoings, try these three strategies to slash your week-to-week spending.
The Cash Diet
We’ve all tried this at some point, right? “Okay, I’m taking out a hundred bucks and that’s IT”, we say with such promise. Then, before you can say smoothie bowl we’ve plonked our broke AF asses down at the latest café opening and ordered a brekkie that chomps up a quarter of our weekly allowance. By the time we’ve topped up our train travel card, we’re dipping into next week’s cash by Tuesday.
To get serious about The Cash Diet, don’t just pluck any number out of your head and decide that’s your cash amount. A big mistake we make when saving is deciding on what we’d like to save first, and trying to live off what’s left. If this works for you, you’re my fucking hero. But for most of us, we’re over ambitious with the saving part, meaning we spend 6 days our of 7 beating ourselves up for not having enough money left. Saving is like losing weight – slow and steady wins the race. Write down the money you need for the week first, and be realistic. If you spend $8 a day on the train, you’re going to need at least $40 per week to cover that. Then, you’ll need to eat, so work out how much you need to buy ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then, factor in a realistic ‘play budget’. Depending on your income, other expenses (like rent) and how much you’re trying to save, you might choose to double your essential income, or add on 50% of that figure to arrive at your cash amount.
Let’s say you need $70 for a supermarket shop to cover your weekly food, plus $20 for petrol and $40 for the train to work. That’s $130. So adding 50% of that on top, you’re looking at $195 per week. That leaves you $65 for coffees, spontaneous after-work drinks or an emergency Uber when your train is cancelled and you’re late for a meeting. The rest of your weekly income can cover rent, a bit of saving and other outgoings.
No Spend Days
No Spend Days are days of the week when you don’t spend anything. Zero, rien, nada. Now, although your $8 train fare to work might be non-negotiable (I’m not suggesting you fare evade or skip work!), the key to No Spend Days is planning ahead so that the expenditure doesn’t actually happen on that day.
So, on a No Spend Day, you get up in the morning and make your coffee and brekkie at home, head to the station or to your car with a topped up travel card or enough petrol in the tank. You pack your own lunch and snacks, and come home after work and cook with the food in your fridge. Bingo – nothing spent.
It’s a fun way of changing your spending habits, because it takes it one day at a time. If you’re craving something sweet at your desk on a NSD, you’ll remember that you can’t just pop to the shops and grab a muffin. If a colleague suggests after work drinks, you can say “oh, I’m trying this No Spend Day thing. I’ve got wine at mine if you want to come and judge contestants on The Bachelor with me?” Boom – money saved and no laughs compromised.
The Daily Cap
The Daily Cap strategy involves working out how much you can afford to spend each day, but not rolling over any leftovers. So, say you allow yourself $20 per day, your savings come from the days when you only spend $11 on the train fare and a cheeky flat white. You might choose to do this in cash or on card, but by allocating that daily limit, you encourage yourself to make smarter spending habits and engage in less impulse spending. At the end of the week, move the leftovers from each day into a jar or a separate savings account – even if it’s only a few dollars. The small amounts add up fast!