Two weeks ago, I got off a plane at Auckland International Airport, exhausted, dishevelled and utterly broke. It had been over seven months since I’d been home, three of them spent ‘studying’ abroad, and the rest travelling as much as possible, with a wander-lusty Instagram feed to prove it. But just like how I didn’t post the low lights, many average days and mistakes of epic proportions, you also wouldn’t see the three years of hard yards that got me overseas. The dinners not eaten out, missed Friday night drinks and unattended concerts. The early mornings answering phones at a reception desk, or late nights spent babysitting bratty kids.
This was the scrimping and syphoning and saving that almost killed my social life, as I became the weird chick who always had a packed lunch, at least four different part-time jobs and an exhaustive knowledge of free events. Here’s how I managed to bank some cash, without becoming a total recluse.
Tell Me What You Want (What You Really, Really Want)
It seems simple, but getting intentional about your financial priorities is a key if you want to stick to your saving goals. Because everyone prioritises money differently, and your mates’ might be different from yours. For some, money well spent was on a new car engine or a daily flat white from that painfully hip café on K’ Road. Or it’s a flight to Otago to see the bros or dinner and drinks on a Friday night out. For me, it was travel. None of these is more ‘right’ than the other, but different. So ask yourself, what do you really want to save for? And is any significant amount of money going somewhere else?
Make a Budget
I know I know, even writing the ‘B’ word makes me yawn, but from experience, the adults have a point; it really does help. Keeping track of your monthly purchases makes you realise that the big drain on your savings often isn’t the one-off large things, but the daily little ones that add up over time. By creating a budget and keeping track of your spending, you’ll see that in a year, the daily coffee becomes $1,640 and those harmless weekend drinks costs you $2,000.
Tell Your Friends
Bringing up finances with your friends can be awkward at the best of times, but clarity trumps cringe any day of the week. Telling your close mates about your financial goals not only saves you from feeling the pressure to make up increasingly creative lies for why you can’t stay for another beer or see that film tonight, but stops them from feeling offended or confused when you turn things down. If they aren’t a total tool, they’ll understand.
Don’t Suggest Potluck
Venture into the online world of financial blogs and penny-pinching articles, and it won’t take long for you to see the same stupidly useless suggestion tirelessly repeated; offering potlucks instead of eating out. Now, I’m sure ‘spend-savvy Suzie’ does make a kick-ass lasagne that her friends love, but you and I know that when your crew want to go for Friday night dinner or hung-over Saturday brunch, the suggestion potluck ain’t gonna fly. A lot of socialising is done over dinner plates, so if you find yourself missing out, try eating something decent beforehand and only ordering a small meal or a side.
Counter Offer Before Going with the Flow
Auckland is a big city with a lot going on, so chances are if your mates what to go out and spend some dollars and you don’t want to miss out, there will be a free alternative. So get smart about the free events happening in your city and always have a free (or at least cheap) option to offer. You can find some of these events in the ‘What’s On’ section of this very magazine or, of course, online. However, if your mates all want to get tickets to that comedy show, or fly to Wellington for the weekend, it’s up to you to either join in or back out; don’t drag the chain.
We Get it, You’re Saving
Want to lose friends as fast as possible? Become that person that never shuts up about how broke they are, because the only thing worse than having to stick to a budget is hearing a friend constantly whine about how difficult it is and how poor they are. I get it, saving is probably one of the most un-exciting parts of life but it doesn’t mean you don’t have any money, just that you’re being intentional about how you spend it – a fact that your friends don’t need to be reminded of every two hours.
Embrace the FOMO
Odds are that eventually something will arise that just isn’t in your budget. Whether it’s a Spark Arena concert or a weekend getaway, the time will come when you simply have to say no and embrace the FOMO. Yes, it will be awesome, and no, you won’t be there but this is the moment when you hold onto the following point…
Remember, the Cool is Yet to Come!
When you reach a point where you can’t stomach another side salad, another water instead of beer, or another night spent in when everyone else is out, just remember: the cool is yet to come. Because there will be a moment when you sit in that new car, book those flights, pay off the last of that loan, or whatever your ‘thing’ is, and it will worth all the potluck dinners in the world.