It was when I saw the disappointment on my mom’s face when I asked her to borrow money for the 10th time to fix my car that I knew I couldn’t keep living in perpetual debt. My W2 taunted me by showing me all the money I had earned knowing that I had saved absolutely NONE of it in 2016. My credit card at a real bank was maxed out and behind in payments, my mall credit card was charged off, and my car was making a funny noise.
I knew I needed to change. I always knew I needed to save money. I told myself I would start managing my money when I got a better paying job. The better paying opportunity came, yet I still blew every dollar that came my way. The Bank of Mom and Dad was warning me that they would deny my loan and I still kept getting $5 coffees and $8 sandwiches.
Impulse buying is what really ruined my savings. I would see something and HAVE to have it. After all, who knows how long this really cool mug is going to be at this Target? I should get it now! My mom gave me some of the best advice that really changed my life, as cliché as it sounds. She told me that if I still wanted the item tomorrow then I could come back, buy it, and feel no guilt. I listened to her that night and to this day, I don’t remember what I was trying to buy.
I was laying in my bed, stressed per usual, when I thought about everything I’ve learned about saving money. I decided to finally put it into practice and see how well it worked. I took out $20 in cash after my rent and car insurance was paid and made it last an entire pay period. At first it was extremely difficult. I was denying offers to go out with friends, driving right past a McDonalds when all I wanted in life was some fast food. I ignored the temptations. I started saving money and losing some weight!
Two Fridays later, I got paid. I didn’t even know my direct deposit hit because I still had some cash left over. I checked my bank account and I still had $200 in my checking account. $200! That’s when I knew I could do it….and that’s when it became a game seeing how fast I could save my money.
I gave myself a couple of rules to follow. I told myself I wouldn’t buy it if I could only use it one time (coffee, fast food, shots at the bar) but if I really wanted it three days later, then I could go back and buy it.
I don’t even know how many impulse buys the Three Day Rule prevented. I only specifically remember really craving Subway for three days and then I rewarded myself with a sandwich. I remember feeling disappointed because I could have made a better, faster, cheaper one at my own house.
I bought groceries because I could eat them more than once, I bought toilet paper in bulk when it was actually on sale and not because I was totally out, and I bought coffee to make at my own house. I was saving money, time and losing weight because I was more conscious of what I was feeding my body.
Unfortunately, I am not a good enough writer to explain how good it feels to not be harassed by debt collectors at all hours of the waking day or how relieving it is to actually have money in case of emergency. A lot of my stress for the past few years could have been prevented if I started saving my money sooner.
I encourage all of my friends who are as bad at a budget as I was to give the Three Day / One Time Use rule a try for one whole month.
Maybe in a couple of months, we can save for a vacation together and roll around in our hard earned savings.