2020 is proving to be a difficult year to define. On one hand, we are tired of being recession-conscious, and many of us are ready to spend again. On the other hand, a fluctuating stock market and consistently high unemployment makes it seem like it might not be the best time for investment or indulgence. So how can you enjoy the things you love while still saving money in 2020?
1. Institute some “No Spending” days. You can allow yourself a few indulgences the rest of the week if you lock up your wallet for at least one or two days a week. That means bringing lunch from home, brewing your own coffee instead of Starbucks, and skipping the mall and happy hour on your way home. People report that “No Spend” days actually end up being more fun than they expect—no money spent means a cozy evening with a home-cooked dinner and catching up on reading instead of a dinner and movie out.
2. Realign your financial goals with your life’s goals. The point of having money is to pursue the things you love, right? Setting financial goals that are more about your personal and emotional fulfillment and less about pure material consumption can make it easier to save money on the little things and work towards your goal. For example, it can be easier to control your online-shopping habit when you know you are saving for a gorgeous set of wedding rings for your upcoming wedding, or for an unforgettable vacation for your next anniversary.
3. In 2011, there is no longer any excuse for not keeping track of your money. If you have a smartphone, make it live up to its name by downloading some smart apps that will help you manage your spending habits and budget, like Mint and MyBudget. Many larger banks, such as Chase and Bank of America, offer banking apps that can help you track your balance, make transfers, and even pay bills and cash checks!
4. Flash sale and social discount sites have never been bigger than they are in 2020. These sites, like The Foundary for home goods, Gilt Groupe for clothes and accessories, Groupon and Living Social for spa and dining, Zuliliy for children’s products, and Trippo for travel, promise amazing deals on some pretty hot products. You can save money buying from these sites, but you can also find yourself shelling out hundreds of dollars for hot deals on things you don’t need. Before purchasing from a flash sale site, ask yourself, is this something I would buy at full price? If the answer is no, even if it is a stunning necklace set with beautiful diamonds, it’s not a good deal for you.
5. Evaluate your current spending habits. You can keep tracking of daily petty cash spending ($168 at Starbucks? Really?) with a number of easy-to-use apps, but you shouldn’t leave it at that. Take a good look at your monthly subscription services, like cable TV, the gym, and Netflix, to see if you are really getting your money’s worth. Are you paying for cable but then watching most of your shows on Hulu? Are you paying for a gym membership and then choosing to jog whenever the weather is nice? You can cut down some of these fees or even cut some out entirely, leading to thousands of dollars in savings.
6. Cook at home. Grocery store prices are higher than ever, but guess what? That means restaurant prices are even more destructive to your bank account than ever too. Even if you buy relatively pricey ingredients, you will still save a bundle by eating at home most of the time. Stock your fridge with tasty, healthy ingredients so eating at home stays fun, and retain the social aspect of eating out by inviting friends over for casual dinners at least once a week.
7. Get rid of lingering debt. Although credit card debt has dropped sharply in the last few years, if you have a stable job and a balanced budget, you don’t need to reject credit cards altogether. Get rid of any lingering debt like old credit card debt or student loans by consolidating them and paying them off once and for all, and then use your credit card wisely by accruing valuable points and then paying your bill in full every month.