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How to hack the money problem.

Squirrels scrounge for nuts throughout the seasons to put them away for the harsh winter months.

Thankfully, we’re not squirrels, and any money we put away into an IRA, 401k or an investment portfolio will (most likely/hopefully) get us some returns in the green (aka profit). So yay for outsmarting cute rodents!

In my last article, I introduced my top five signs for distinguishing if you spend your money needlessly. I also gave a quick little roadmap to killing debt as an artist. Here, let’s talk about 5 ways to start saving during the winter months so you can enjoy summer’s bars and parties (instead of staying in for, like, the fifteenth night in a row).

1. Ditch the plastic and start using cash.
But that is SO old school! Yes, but this way you FEEL your money leaving your beautiful, manicured hands (P.S., time to learn how to do gels yourself). The #1 reason, according to this Psychology Today article, consumers tend to spend more when using credit/debit card is that it is less painful than paying with cash. But the third point that article makes is that consumers who buy their products with cash tend to enjoy a better relationship with whatever it is that they bought. To sum it up: paying with cash makes you count your blessings more.

2. Keep the change.
Unless you’re donating your money to the homeless, keep your change when you use cash (see what I did there?). Unless your server does a FREAKING AMAZING JOB, don’t tip huge sums of money… or tip at all. There is a rather large economic reason for this, but you can read a little about my budding feelings towards tipping here and watch Adam rip it to shreds here. Put that extra money into a little jar, and bring that sucker to a bank when it’s full and super heavy.

3. Budget your fun money.
Right now, I have a job that I do bi-weekly that pays me in cash. Unless I am really strapped for money for some reason, that usually goes to my “fun money” once I have taken out my grocery allowance. (Article coming soon about loading a gift card for groceries!) Once you’re out of fun money for the week/month (I recommend going weekly), time to dig up that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to binge.

4. Put money into your savings as soon as you get your paycheck
but after you’ve sorted through any other bills you might have (i.e. student loans, car payments, etc.). This way, you rip the bandaid off on how much you actually have to put away for that trip to Brazil you’ve been meaning to plan. And, you know, you actually get to put some money away for emergency funds or for retirement.

5. Get to $1000 FAST!
I say this because if you’re just starting out (like me) right after college, you have bills to pay and a 22 year-old stomach to feed, you need to have an emergency fund now. Life makes it storm while you’re building the gutter: you might find that any sort of consistent streaks of bad luck fall to the wayside when you have a little nest-egg. Plus, it will make splurging when you have some extra dough even sweeter because you KNOW you can afford it!
When you’re ready to take your savings to the next step, I recommend getting anywhere from 3-6 months of you current rent and expenses saved up. If you know you’re moving to a more expensive city, plan for your rent to be on the higher end of what your budget may be, and start saving up for that.

Don't forget: talking about money can be fun, but can also be a bit stressful, especially if you feel like you’re not making enough of it, or making it fast enough. The key thing to remember about money is that it is impersonal: when you start treating it like the tool that it is and not the idol it has become to our societies, you may find yourself getting a lot more done and having a healthier relationship with your money… and with yourself.

So here: check out this video of a squirrel eating nuts and lighten up a bit! Get to saving!

x Alexis

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