You know what I have opinions about? Money! I have so many opinions about money!
But first a disclaimer: this is advice for people who make enough money to live on. I don’t know anything about being seriously poor and am not going to pretend I have anything worthwhile to say about that. If things are shitty for you right now, ignore the rest of this post and just do what you have to to survive.
People do a lot of stupid shit with money and I wish I could shake them all and tell them to get their shit together. The single biggest thing that irritates me is when people spend money they don’t have. Do you have a car payment? If you do, you are fucking up! Buy the car you can afford – and by afford I mean “can pay for in full” – not the shiny one that you want. Seriously people, do your research, get the reliable used car that’s a few years old and not cool anymore and suck it up.
And credit cards! How do so many people fuck up so badly with credit cards? Here’s the deal: you can spend whatever you want on a credit card as long as you can pay it off IN FULL every month. If you can’t, then you are fucking up. To be fair, I do have an advantage here in that my parents’ failure at credit cards gave me a reasonable and justified fear of them so I never spend money I can’t pay off. The interest rates on credit cards are goddamn terrifying, do not fuck with them. I have good credit and still pay %19.9 on any balance I carry. Don’t do it!
In general, just because you want something doesn’t mean you can have it. Shiny new electronics? Save the fuck up for it. Luxurious vacations? Save the fuck up for it. Videogames? Stock up on super cheap ones during Steam sales and play those while you save the fuck up for new releases. Want to go see all the summer blockbuster movies but can only afford a few of them? Guess you’d better suck it up and pick your favourites. Nice jewelry? Save the fuck up for it or get good at finding bargains on eBay or interesting unknown artists on Etsy.
To be honest, I have absolutely no concept of budgeting. I just never got the hang of it because I have the sheer dumb luck to just kinda spend less than I make. My most expensive habits are books and fancy scotch, and luckily I go through fancy scotch very slowly. I would spend a shit-ton if I went out more, but I’m a crotchety old lady in training and I’d rather drink at home in my pajamas while playing videogames than go out and interact with people all the time.
Now for spending less money:
Learn to fucking cook! Takeout is delicious but stupid expensive, you need to learn how to feed yourself without involving a restaurant. There are a completely ridiculous number of people on YouTube who want to teach you to cook for free, click around a bit and find one you like. You can also take in-person cooking classes, ask a friend who’s a good cook to teach you in return for the leftovers, get some cookbooks, or try one of those recipe + ingredient delivery services like Chef’s Plate (if you happen to want get some free meals and help me get free tasty meals (full disclosure!), use social referral tag #3platesFromNotJusBitchy when you sign up – yes there’s a typo, no I can’t fix it). The great thing about services like Chef’s Plate is that they send you detailed instructions and just the right amount of ingredients. If it turns out you hate a particular spice, hey, at least you’re not stuck with a whole bottle of it that you’ll never use.
Related to learning to cook, even if you aren’t any good at it yet, at least bring a sandwich for lunch instead of buying one for >$5 every single day. Even frozen meals or canned ravioli from the grocery store can be much cheaper than going out for lunch every day. I’m not saying you can never have a tasty lunch out, just not every single day. In a pinch, if you have a grocery store nearby, you can buy a couple of buns and some deli meat and have a very fresh if not very interesting sandwich very cheaply.
If you enjoy drinking with your friends, which I certainly do, try having a party at home instead of going to the club. Ask people to either bring something to share or chip in for a liquor run, put on a nostalgic tv show, break out some games if you’re nerds, and everyone will have a good time. The markup on drinks in a club or restaurant are ridiculous, you can save a lot of money and still have a good time by partying at home. Just be a decent human being and have your party on a weekend and don’t be loud literally all night, okay?
Also if you have storage space, buy in bulk! Toilet paper never goes bad and it’s cheaper for a big package than just a couple rolls. If you eat rice, buy a 20 lb sack instead of a little bag. Same with potatoes if you can keep them cool and dry.
And finally, put some goddamn money in savings even if it’s only a few dollars here and there. Thou shalt have an emergency fund! If you have some savings, an emergency like your car breaking down is way less of a disaster than it would be if you were already broke. If you have a good chunk of savings already then think about investing, but at the very least save something.
Seriously, if nothing else I’ve said in this entire post sinks in, for the love of god save something.