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Want Financial Independence? Here's How.

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Refinery29

Be a girl boss who depends on no one.

I don't know about you, but I'm very bad with money. I'm incredible at spending it, but I definitely don't know how to save it. Sometimes I buy two drinks at Starbucks every morning because I can't decide whether or not I want a hot or cold beverage. I've definitely had to call my parents to help me out with my rent before.

I've had a lot of professions in my adulthood: I've been an elementary school teacher, a freelance writer, and now a full time writer, and let me tell you-- none of these jobs have made me rich. In fact, most of them have just kept me very poor. So, at 30, I finally got to the point where I needed to mentally check myself and ask- how does one actually save, and make money?

Forbes breaks it down in a few steps:

  • Increase your income (ask for that raise)

  • Control your spending habits (bring lunch to work, cut down on those nights out)

  • Pay off your student loan and credit card debt

  • Understand your savings patterns (start keeping track)

  • Determine your investment objectives

  • Define your long-term financial goals

So, if you want to go from scrub to financially independent girl boss, here are some things you can do to change your life around fast.

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Define your soft and hard expenses

Make a list of what you really NEED vs what you just WANT (soft expenses.) Then it's time to start cutting down on those soft expenses. What might soft expenses look like?

  • that trip to palm springs

  • those happy hour drinks

  • that purse you've been wanting

  • that food delivery service you've been using every night

  • that Uber

  • that coffee you get every single morning (and then sometimes every single afternoon)

  • that $13 smoothie

  • that expensive spin class

  • etc.

It doesn't mean that you can't have ANY fun, but it does mean that you should work to find some cheaper, or even free alternatives, or just spend in moderation.

be crafty

For any expensive thing you want, whether it be makeup, clothing, a vacation, or an apartment, realize that there's usually a dupe that you can get at a lower price. Also, check the app RetailMeNot to see if there are any coupons or deals available before you splurge or buy any new products. Travelocity, Groupon, and the Instagram account DUPETHAT all offer cheaper alternatives to some of your expensive favorites.

Remember, there's NOTHIN wrong with clipping coupons, especially if you're doing it from your phone.

Additionally, remember that for whatever product you might want to buy, there's usually a DIY version that you can create or make at home.

pay off debt

ASAP. This is a no brainer.

Implement the 30 day rule

Stop impulse purchasing. Wait 30 days to decide on buying something, rather than splurging on it right away. Most likely, and especially if it's an article of clothing, it will go out of style, and you won't want it anymore.

vow to always save money

Just think of it as the OPPOSITE of a cheat day. One day a week, vow to be as frugal as possible. It can be a fun game you play with yourself. Huffington Post published an article on how to eat healthy for less that $6 a day.

make a shopping list and don't break from it

And especially don't go grocery shopping hungry. For things that you need in bulk, try to go to locations such as Costco or Smart and Final. Trader Joes has great premade foods. Get special bags to keep your produce last longer, and find out what food you can freeze before it goes bad so that you can dethaw it later.

Here, Refinery 29 published The Broke Girls Guide to Healthy Eating.

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if you smoke, quit

We both know it's an expensive and deadly habit, and you've been meaning to quit anyway. Someone smoking a pack a day spends about $160 a week on cigarettes, which is nearly $8,500 each year.

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turn off your lights and TV

And unplug any devices that you're not using, like toasters, microwaves, that lava lamp, etc. These are called "energy vampires" and they could be costing you some extra dollars here and there, and those add up.

cancel unused memberships

Not working out at that gym anymore? Haven't used Netflix in forever? Still subscribed to that job recruitment website even though you have a job now? Take a look at all the subscription services that you are paying for, and figure out what you can weed out. Most likely, there are several things that you're paying for that you don't even realize, that can decrease your monthly charges by a significant amount.

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bring lunch from home

Going out to lunch with coworkers, or ordering in, can get REALLY expensive. And a lot of times you can succumb to the peer pressure of splitting the bill when some people ordered a LOT more than you did (I'm talking to you, Deb from accounting, who got an appetizer, main course, and a drink with her lunch.) So, the best way to combat spending too much money on breakfast, lunch, and coffees during the work week? Bring food and snacks from home to the office. It might take a little bit more time in prep, but it will save you a ton in money.

Download Digit.

Digit is a great app that helps you increase your savings, "Every few days, Digit checks your spending habits and removes a few dollars from your checking account if you can afford it. Easily withdraw your money any time, quickly and with no fees."

invest

According to Refinery 29, "Let’s say you’re earning that $85,000 a year. Sadly, you didn’t get the courage to ask for the raise, or you did and you struck out. It happens. But you did decide to take your annual 20% savings and invest it in a balanced investment portfolio instead of leaving it in the bank (except for your emergency fund, of course).

How much more money will you have in 40 years? Our estimates say anywhere from an additional $565,000 to $2.1 million more, depending on markets. So, on average, let’s call it $1.4 million more. That's more than the incremental $1 million you get over time from getting that raise. "

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Don't let relationships sabotage finances

It's important to manage your own finances, you never know what might happen. Relationships come and go, but make sure you keep your money your money, or at least some of it. While a joint bank account makes sense, especially if you're married or have kids, it's always important to keep some money yours. But even if that might not be the case, at least know what's going on with it.

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Ask for that raise

Think about the job that you're doing. Think about your title, and then think about your actual role and responsibilities. Are you being paid enough? Are you being taken advantage of? If in your exact same position, do you think a man would be paid more? Would he ask for a raise?

If you answered yes, then march into your boss' office, and ask for a raise.

Actually, just kidding. Pause for a second, but still- you should probably ask for that raise. But do it professionally, and plan out what you're going to say first. Cite reasons, lay out how you're beneficial to the company, remind your boss of some of your accomplishments, and then give an exact number or salary increase that you'd like to receive.

Most likely, you'll get it. Never forget: you are your most valuable financial asset.

To read a personal account about financial planning for millenials, read one here on Refinery 29.. And you can always listen to the great podcast by Gaby Dunn, Bad with Money.

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