We're tracking down the most interesting super savers we can find and asking them how they do it. Find out more about this series here.
Other super saver interviews:
Our first subject is Teale, a 24-year-old who recently moved to New York City with enough cash on hand to live for 5 months without a job―and that means actually live, not just make rent. For the past two years Teale worked as a costume designer and wardrobe supervisor on a cruise ship, and now she's doing the same on a freelance basis in NYC. Here, she lays out some of her best tips for saving money like a boss.
Think about your long-term goals when you’re about to buy something.
"Basically, I just try to not spend money. When I know I’ve got something coming up, like moving, I remind myself to save as much money as I can now and focus on my goals so I can have fun later. When I see something I want I'm very good at talking myself out of it if it is not a thing I truly need. In Hawaii this summer I wanted to buy bikinis because I love them and was wearing them every single day. But I already have around 30 bikinis and would just tell myself that by saving that thirty dollars I would be able to put it toward winter clothes which, as a Floridian, I desperately needed. Before buying something I think to myself, ‘What would my dad think about this purchase if he saw it on my monthly statement?’"
Treat spending as an investment.
"When shopping it also helps to think about the garment in terms of the future. Will that item still be fashionable in 5 years? Will it still be in good shape and wearable in 10 years? Last summer I made a fashion "investment" in a beautiful black Italian leather bag I found in Venice. I'd rather spend money on a classic purse that I will use for the next 30 years than waste money on several cheap trendy bags that will fall apart eventually."
Save money however you can.
"Keep your spare change. I currently have a baggy of $15 worth of spare change I’ve been collecting since April. I never buy sodas or drink coffee. I go to the library for books. I save gift cards for when I know I’ll need something big, like moving up here. I only buy clothes on sale. Very rarely will I buy something full price, unless it is from Target. I still wear clothes and shoes that I bought in high school. When I want to go to the movies, I try to go to cheaper matinee times."
Don’t be an idiot when you go out with friends.
"Before I go out, I research places with no cover and great drink specials. It’s also smart to go to an ATM before and only allow yourself a certain amount of cash to spend. It’s way easier to be careful with cash than it is with a credit card. Unless you are in New Orleans."
Get creative about making money.
"While I was working on cruise ships, I also took on odd jobs to make money. On board the ship I did odd jobs like helped at the art auction or passed out brochures for the port shopping consultant. I also babysit, and clean out my closet and consign things I don’t wear every season. In college I tried donating plasma once, but you need an original copy of your Social Security card. If you work a side job in addition to something full time, that can be your fun spending money. It will help you reach your saving goals faster if you devote your paycheck to savings, retirement and paying bills. You'll also be less likely to spend money on silly things if you set limits for yourself and are working extra hard to meet your goals."
Educate yourself on personal finance.
"I keep every receipt and write down my monthly expenses in a journal. I also have a Roth IRA retirement account that I put money in every year and earn interest on. Also, get a credit card so you can start building your credit. Only use it for things like gas and bills. I have a lot of friends who have made the mistake of never having a credit card and now they are in their 30s and have no credit. I’m 24, I have 3 credit cards now and have excellent credit. I got my first card when I was 20."