I Can’t Afford It: A Broke Girl’s Guide To Living Within Your Means

"We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like."

- Dave Ramsey

It’s impossible to go a single day without seeing an advertisement for something. Whether it be an advertisement in a glossy magazine or an enticing television commercial, we are constantly bombarded by forces telling us we need things. What might surprise you is that the strongest power influencing what we purchase is our friends. How can you say no when you feel like everyone around you has nice, new, and expensive things?
Rule #1 Don’t Give In To The Pressure
Once you accept that your budget doesn’t allow for frivolous purchases you will be able to manage your money efficiently and start saving.
Tip: Try having frank conversations with your friends. If you have to turn down a manicure or a lunch date, honesty is a lot better than seeming like you’re blowing them off; or worse, spending money that you really shouldn’t be.

Rule #2 Shop Wisely

Of course there are going to be occasions where you’ll need to buy a new outfit. The key to shopping smartly, is ONLY shopping when there is something you need.

Tip: Skip going to the mall to “window shop” since wandering around aimlessly can lead to buying things on impulse.

Tip: Just because something is on sale, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal. Sure, something could be 50% off, but it’s still money.

Rule #3 Cash-In On Stuff You Already Have

Yes, we do live in an extremely consumerist society. However, we also live in a society where there are many websites that allow you to take advantage of other people’s desire to buy. Dying to get a new phone? Sell your old one. Then use the profit for a new one. Same concept applies to clothes and other potentially profitable items you may have lying around.

Tip: Every time you purchase a new article of clothing, resell or donate an article. Plato’s Closet, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army can help with this. The only feeling better than getting cash from your old clothes is knowing that you gave them to someone who needs them.

Rule #4 Save, Save, Save

The easiest way to save is to establish a definite savings account. Every piece of income you get, try and save at least half of it. A sure way to make sure you’re not spending your money is not to store it in a checking account.

Tip: Avoid credit cards. It’s easy to get caught in the mindset that you can buy something on credit and then pay for it later, like when you get your next paycheck. Credit card debt is a rising epidemic in America, so it’s best to avoid it all together and only spend money that you know you have.

Rule #5 Splurge On What’s Important

If you watch your wallet, you WILL be able to buy yourself a treat now and then. Don’t think that being frugal equates to not having fun. If you work hard and save, it will make spending that much more enjoyable. If you skip those daily $4 Starbucks lattes, you can afford a dream spring break with your friends.

Tip: Before buying something, ask yourself "Do I need this?" If the answer is no, put it back. You'll be happy you did.

Photo Sources: 1, 2.