What ‘Rules’ have you set for yourself to save money?

Tandem21's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 659

I'm in a new city and pay a little more for rent than I would have liked, so I tried to lay some ground rules for myself to help keep spending down. I want to save aggressively, and pay my student loans off somewhat aggressively, so hopefully this helps:

  • No eating out during the week, unless invited by someone. (This doesn't happen frequently as I don't know too many people)
  • No eating out at lunch, I meal prep for the week, and my job caters quite a bit thankfully.
  • Always pre-game, doesn't seem smart, but Bud Light (Yeah, I'm white trash) at my apartment is much cheaper than anything at the bar.
  • Drinks during the week are limited, and only happy hours, or free drinks at events.

These rules are a bit malleable for dates.

Anything else I could save on?

Comments (68)

Mar 12, 2018

I like this post. It's refreshing to see someone actively supressing his consumerist tendancies. Not easy, given society's debasement of values and decency.

Not surprising to see -- the savings rate in the US fell by 50% (yes, FIFTY) since 2007.

While I don't have student loans and/or debt, I still actively penny pinch (because it all adds up). I'm the guy who will drop $18k on a hunting trip (going in May) without thinking twice, but:

-will save coupons from CVS to save $2 on toothpaste
-rarely (if ever) patronize Starbucks. It's not a coffee chain. It's a specimen of tax evasion.
-don't drive like a maniac all the time to get better MPG (in a red Mercedes SL, there's nothing to prove).
-don't go out to eat with people I don't like.
-when travelling solo (typically half the year), stay in AirBnb's and/or budget hotels
-never paying for girls on the first or second date (the 3rd time, perhaps)
-generally remaining physically healthy (workouts, no smoking, etc), as psychiatrists are $ enough.

etc etc. I only splurge on things that will make me smile on my deathbed.

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Mar 13, 2018

Where ya going?

Mar 15, 2018

South Africa/Botswana. Tanzania if there's time.

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Best Response
Mar 13, 2018

Paying for girls on the 3rd date? Spending that way, I bet there isn't many of those lol.

Mar 15, 2018

Obviously you don't know me.
The things I get away with are amazing.
Even I surprise myself.

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Mar 13, 2018

I don't understand Starbucks > Tax evasion ??

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Mar 15, 2018

.

Mar 15, 2018

You must've been sleeping in your Corporate Taxation class.

Trust me, they're first and foremost a tax evasion vehicle (the perfect specimen). Coffee is just their side gig.

They've taken "double irish with a dutch sandwich" to a whole new level. It's clever, genius, and disturbing at the same time.

Haven't been to one in years. I actively avoid them, actually. Far better coffee around the corner for the same price.

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Mar 13, 2018
MonacoMonkey:

I like this post. It's refreshing to see someone actively supressing his consumerist tendancies. Not easy, given society's debasement of values and decency.

Not surprising to see -- the savings rate in the US fell by 50% (yes, FIFTY) since 2007.

While I don't have student loans and/or debt, I still actively penny pinch (because it all adds up). I'm the guy who will drop $18k on a hunting trip (going in May) without thinking twice, but:

-will save coupons from CVS to save $2 on toothpaste
-rarely (if ever) patronize Starbucks. It's not a coffee chain. It's a specimen of tax evasion.
-don't drive like a maniac all the time to get better MPG (in a red Mercedes SL, there's nothing to prove).
-don't go out to eat with people I don't like.
-when travelling solo (typically half the year), stay in AirBnb's and/or budget hotels
-never paying for girls on the first or second date (the 3rd time, perhaps)
-generally remaining physically healthy (workouts, no smoking, etc), as psychiatrists are $ enough.

etc etc. I only splurge on things that will make me smile on my deathbed.

omg +1

Mar 13, 2018

Monaco, I've disagreed w/some of your positions in the past, but I will have to say that your comment: "I only splurge on things that will make me smile on my deathbed." has to be one of the most succinct and profound statements I've read on any forum in a long time. Well said, couldn't agree more.

Mar 13, 2018

Same here, the guy is a bit strange but that hit the nail on the head for me

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Mar 15, 2018

"Not easy, given society's debasement of values and decency. Not surprising to see -- the savings rate in the US fell by 50% (yes, FIFTY) since 2007."

this is just like all of your other posts. a cursory level of understanding of what is happening and then you make broad sweeping generalizations about a single fact.

"There is proof that high income earners, who saw their share of income go up in the U.S. in the nineties, and enjoyed the equity boom, reduced their savings rate as in our example. Indeed, in the real world, it went negative! Since that reduced savings rate was applied to their new enlarged chunk of income, sure enough the total savings rate fell sharply."

https://delong.typepad.com/plutonomy-1.pdf (Page 13)

it's even got a pretty chart for you to read, however i don't see you doing much of that. this report is from 2005 and the gini coefficient in the U.S. economy has only risen; rising income inequality exacerbated this phenomenon.

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Mar 15, 2018

Bottom line is that we live in a consumerist society devoted on getting people to part with their money. High(ish) income tax, virtually no (or low) consumption tax. Spend spend spend.

It's scary how many people overspend and fall into a viscous debt cycle, effectively enslaving themselves untol death.

If you want to see personal financial discipline, live in Germany for a few months. I was shocked at their frugality and savings habits, despite having (arguably) the best technology in the world.

Fun fact- Germany is the ONLY country where Walmart had to pull out (closed all stores). Why? They couldnt make any money- Germans thought it was TOO EXPENSIVE.

I was blown away, and them you live there for a few months and understand. Everyone spends frugally on mundane things (incl food). Splurge on cars, travel, etc etc.

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Mar 19, 2018

+1 for not blowing your $ on hunnies.

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.

Mar 23, 2018

Surely it would make more sense to pay on the first date?

Mar 25, 2018

I'm glad I haven't been inducted into the "hall of beta-males".
Sure, go ahead, pay for her first date. She'll just use you as her bank account while coming to meet (guys like) me when you're not looking.

Mar 13, 2018

Just make sure to prioritize.

Start by paying off student loans (aggressively.)
Once that's done, save (aggressively.)

Easiest way to do that is to make a budget. I know most people hear budget and think, fuck that, but really just look at it more as a organization tool. It's easier to not a give a fuck about spending or feel less stressed about it when you know where everything is. For example, if you make $1000 a month (use your own figures), save $400, rent is $400, $200 is left to divide up. Ration that over expenses, such as travel to work, or allocate some for clothes or dates, the rest you can use for spending.

I know for me it's easier to spend/track money for a lunch when you know everything else is in place.

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Mar 13, 2018

I paid off a a few off my students loans to 0 balance and it dinged my Credit Score as it reduced the "Average age of my Credit history."

For the others, I paid off a significant chunk - but still keep paying a small amount per month to maintain my Credit score.

I might be dumb for doing this though. Please let me know.

Mar 13, 2018

Good job!

Having a 0 credit score isn't a bad thing, but it all depends how you want to live your life. If you vehemently opposed to borrowing money and pay cash for everything, credit score really doesn't matter.

If you plan on borrowing money for things, it may be more important. It's really just a rating of how you are as a creditor.

Think about it like a golf handicap, if you play golf you probably care about it; if you never or never plan on playing golf, it doesn't matter.

Mar 14, 2018

If my student loans are only like 3.3% whats the point of paying them off early? Thats free leverage baby

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Mar 15, 2018

I paid off my higher interest loans, but like you said - I'm not paying off those low interest loans.

Mar 13, 2018

I put $500-$1K in a money market dedicated to investment property down payments every time my checking account hits like $4K.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/

Mar 13, 2018

Stop paying for cable....

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Mar 13, 2018

Don't have it as is, use my brothers' SlingTv.

Mar 13, 2018

+SB, haven't had cable for over 10 years...amazing how much money you save over that period of time and how little you miss having it

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Mar 13, 2018

No buying girls shots. We don't love deez ((respectable females))

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Mar 14, 2018

The trick here is that if you don't pay for a girl on the first or second date, you can pretty much guarantee that there won't be a third.

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Mar 15, 2018

hah you poor chump

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Mar 13, 2018

Once i get my pay check I immediately transfer ~44% to Savings / Investments ~38% to Student loans and then ~18% to Checking acct for general expense/Entertainment (Just Graduated and Living at home to save money)

I try to not go out at all during the week, skip one night out during wknd, meal prep.

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Mar 13, 2018

....

Mar 13, 2018

Great post! I know exactly what you mean because there are few price shocks worse than moving from Orlando to Manhattan. I think your rules are spot on so I would like to expand on them:

1.) Generally speaking, no eating out unless you're on a date or networking.

2.) Always pregame, but try cutting back on alcohol as much as possible. A few drinks at the bar could easily cost a weeks worth of groceries.

3.) Get a side hustle! Can't stress this enough. Do something you enjoy that will also pay you. This could be anything from bartending to writing a blog. It takes time to get this off the ground so be realistic. However, its a great way to build on a new skill.

4.) Refinance student loans and credit card debt to a lower interest rate or 0% balance transfer. Whatever money you save from doing this should be wisely invested.

5.) Stop hanging out with your Amex happy homeboys - This shouldn't be too much of a problem for you since you don't know anyone in town yet but I have found that most of my friends that are popping bottles Thurs-Sun are in debt up to their eyeballs.

6.) Budget - but don't budget yourself into a financial straight jacket. A simple allocation to debt repayment, groceries, gas, and entertainment can do wonders.

7.) Pay yourself first - Invest. Invest. Invest. Even if it's a few thousand dollars into some S&P ETFs, it's important to get in to the habit of paying yourself first.

Hope this helps.

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Mar 13, 2018

List out all your fixed costs (rent, utilities, subscriptions, etc). Most of these can't be changed but any that you can will be consistent savings across each month.

Use an app like Personal Capital, Mint, or Status Money to check your expenses over the span of a couple of months. See which categories you tend to spend a lot in, and ask yourself if you're getting the right amount of value from your spending.

I've started budgeting recently, and while cash flow is the end game, a great budget is really one that allows you to be happy and puts you in a financially responsible position. That means that while you cut expenses, you should focus on increasing (Economic Utility/Dollar Spent), which you will be able to do once you think about how happy your spending in certain areas make you.

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Mar 13, 2018

Whatever savings strategy you choose, automate it. "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" by Ramit Sethi is a great personal finance book which covers this and much more.

Mar 14, 2018

As a senior about to graduate I also struggled with budgeting / saving a bit. I'll be commuting from home and will likely save about 20k buy avoiding rent / city taxes. My goal is to not squander the money I am saving (I've heard of people being fiscally responsible by commuting from their hometown but then dropping hundreds of dollars at the bars every weekend).

I'm not huge on drinking / generally offer to be the designated driver which allows me to limit myself to a few beers without looking like a "1 beer queer" as a "bro" said to me a few weeks ago.

I also really like the idea of meal prepping for the weekdays and only eating out if invited or during the weekends (looking at my credit card statements I'd say most of my unnecessary expenses come from food / eating out)

Someone above mentioned checking your daily spending / account balances regularly. It may seem a bit obsessive but it will keep you honest.

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Mar 15, 2018

Once you're actually working, assuming you're in your 20s like most of this site:

  1. Max out your 401k match using a traditional 401k (take your tax break now when your income is lower)
  2. Make a budget that's comfortably below your take home on base comp and do your best to stick to it.
  3. When you get your bonus each year, pay your taxes, set aside $10k or so to go on vacation or splurge on cool shit, then invest everything else.

Congrats, you now save 50% of your after-tax income.

Mar 23, 2018
sixteh:

...
1. Max out your 401k match using a traditional 401k (take your tax break now when your income is lower)
...

You've got Traditional and Roth 401(k)s confused. Traditional is where you take the tax hit when you pull the money.

Mar 15, 2018

I

Make as many meals as possible, drive a 13 year old car, use coupons wherever possible, workout at my office/apartment gyms, don't have cable, only drink with friends or coworkers, don't have any video game systems, walk to the bars when the weather is nice.

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Mar 15, 2018

Damn, you're pro stats. Were you always this way or have you worked to develop these habits? What hobbies do you have? Any favorite meals you make?

Mar 15, 2018
  1. I barely drink.
  2. I limit "fancy" international travels to 1-2 trips per year MAX.
  3. I don't spend more than $50 on a meal unless it's a special occasion.
  4. I buy new clothes once a year.
  5. I always live in apartment buildings with a gym, so I don't have to spend money on monthly memberships.
Mar 15, 2018

When I was on a tighter budget I used to make multiple trips to the hors deuvres (idk how it's spelled) table at networking events to get as many free lunches/dinners as possible....

Mar 15, 2018

You're getting a lot of good advice here.

I would also like to point out that its not about the actions, it more about the mindset. If really want to be able to save and end up wealthy, it's just about monitoring your expenses and practicing pricing discipline. For example, it's great to spend less on video games or drinking, but if you really, really like to play video games or drink, spend on those and save on something else.

But also look at it big picture. For example, I know people who are all about using coupons but have no idea what the fees are on their retirement account. I would think if you asked most people worth +$1mn, they will tell you it's all about saving and making correct spending decisions, and not necessarily they properly leveraged their credit card points or balance transfers.

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Mar 15, 2018

I am simply echoing what others have said on here in older posts, but the 80/20 rule seems to be fairly common:

  • Bank 20% of your base salary and 80% of your bonus
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Mar 15, 2018

Making sure my comp is growing 10% per annum on average.

Mar 15, 2018

I keep an insanely detailed accounting of all my expenses. Since I hardly use cash, its a simple download and dump into a budget model. I update that midway through the month to get an idea of where I'm at then at the end of the month. In addition to that, I run projected future months and it gets me excited to save by seeing what my investment accounts will look like if I can plow x% into them.

Rules-wise:
- Avoid going out to eat during the week (lunch or dinner), this great for me because it also helps my nutritional goals
- Avoid "status" restaurants unless its a special occasion; finding cheap eats have become sort of a treasure hunt and way to explore the city
- Limited sports betting: that shit adds up
- Select hobbies that I focus/will spend on as opposed to doing a little bit of everything.
- Shop at the cheaper grocery stores
- Avoid the "round for a round" exchanges at bars as crafty friends will invariably "miss" their turn from time to time
- One night of down time during the weekend. Good for wallet, good for health
- Be open about savings goals with my significant other and let her know that dollars saved now will bring more benefit in the future (house down payment)

I think the big shift is to get excited about saving because in the end, that's where real freedom lies.

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Mar 15, 2018

Not a rule...but I highly recommend getting the Acorn app.

Link your cards and accounts to it. For each purchase you make, it rounds up to the nearest dollar and puts the difference into an investment account tailored to your risk profile. Easiest saving I've ever done and it adds up pretty quickly.

Mar 15, 2018

I've heard of that before, on average, how much do you save per day?

Mar 15, 2018

On average ~$15-$20 per week from round ups, and then I add-on recurring monthly transfers for a boost. It completes round up x-fers in increments of $5, which I seem to hit every couple of days.

Mar 15, 2018

Map out a budget in excel starting with post tax/medical/401k. Fairly straight forward.

I also like to think of large non-monthly reoccurring expenses, add em up and divide by 12 and throw that into my budget as well - essentially amortizing things such as: new car tires, car/renters insurance (I pay car every 6 mo and renters once a year), gifts for parents, etc.

20% of my post-tax/medical/401k gets automatically deposited into a savings account at another institution so I never see it.

Once my checking gets built up to 2-3 months worth of expenses, I transfer the excess to my savings account, which ultimately gets put into an index fund when I'm comfortable with there the markets at (i.e. not having stupid run ups like we did in janauary 2018 - I wait for an opportunity to deposit a large sum after a nice pullback like we had in February)

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Mar 18, 2018

Spend it all

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself

Mar 23, 2018

Sad!

Mar 19, 2018

This thread is making me feel physically ill

Seriously what is going on with this community. Truly sad.

@IlliniProgrammer looks like your dream has come true. You're no longer the WSO outcast, you're now the WSO messiah. Although to be fair I think a rusty Honda might be considered splurging for a lot of the folks here

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Mar 19, 2018
Going Concern:

This thread is making me feel physically ill

Seriously what is going on with this community. Truly sad.

I'm going to mindlessly blow some money tonight just to make up for the post-recession heresy around here.

"Models and Bottles" turned into "6s and Sixpacks"

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Apr 2, 2018

I spit out my coffee. +1

Mar 21, 2018

Got rid of my car.
Try drink instant coffee instead of bought coffee.
Bring lunch in sometimes.
Dont go on as many nights out (not about that life anymore).

This year i recon i'll save about 25 - 30k GBP

Mar 23, 2018
TommyGunn:

Try drink instant coffee instead of bought coffee.

They don't provide you unlimited free coffee at work? I'd argue that what we get is better than starbucks.

Also, years ago, I spent $400 on a refurbished super-automatic espresso machine that retailed for >$1k new. Given the 3000+ shots and unknown amount of steamed milk it has produced over the years, it has been a huge money-saver, as well as providing Starbucks level cappuccinos in my kitchen instead of five blocks down the road. (for some reason they seem to frown on customers arriving in a robe and slippers there as well.)

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Mar 21, 2018

I eat rice for every meal and bathe in the local river to save on utilities.

Mar 21, 2018

Bringing food from home for lunch. Saves a good chunk of money every month surprisingly (especially in a high COL area).

Budget 500-1000 dollars into my savings every month.

Mar 21, 2018

Drink the free coffee at work. One cup of Starbucks a day really adds up.

Mar 23, 2018

I set up funds to go straight into my savings into my trading account. You normally don't miss them go and everything adds up..

Mar 23, 2018

As others have said, maxing out 401K is a great start, not a bad idea to max out your FSA each year as well, that could be a sizable amount after 30 years + appreciation.

I eat at home more often than not
Walk to work
Don't drink often
Go to the gym and take proper care of my body (nothing crazy but its nearly free entertainment and to keep in good health)

Apr 2, 2018
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May 30, 2018
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May 30, 2018