In the US, females get paid approximately 20% less than men.
By the nature of that statistic, which has improved in the last decade, I’ve known for quite some time that my path to earn a lot of money may take a while. What I’ve also known for quite some time, is that I value high-quality, nice things. A blessing and a curse! The purpose that this introduction serves is that budgeting my money is neither natural nor easy for me. I’m not one who my family or husband would describe as a “saver”. You only live once, buy the shoes! Right? Sometimes right, sometimes very wrong. There are a handful of budgeting tricks that I’ve acquired over the years which I’m seeking to share with you here. To all my fashionistas out there, this one’s for you.
Growing up, my parents always strove to teach my sisters and I the value of money. We were given debit cards, with a very limited cash balance at a given moment. How this translates to my view towards money today, is that I should never spend more money on my credit card than I would on my debit card. A synonym for credit is debt. The happiness that results from “retail therapy” is never as powerful as the stress that develops from not being able to pay your credit card off in full. Instead of buying new all the time, take the time to explore second hand stores or even better, borrow from friends! A fun fact, when I was 25 and working at Helmut Lang, my one coworker and I used to trade clothes often. One day, she said to me “I propose a swap!”. A lightbulb went off in my head that led me to write a business plan for an exclusive closet-trading company I wanted to start called “Fashionship”. I guess I didn’t have enough entrepreneurial confidence at the time, but I still think it’s the BEST idea.
401K plans are wonderful. Some companies offer them, some don’t. Some companies match your savings, some don’t. I will start by saying that if you are lucky enough to work for an organization that offers 401K benefits, take advantage of it. If you don’t have this incentive, take matters into your own hands. Transfer a certain dollar amount each month, a number that you responsibly come up with, from your checking account into savings. Set this up on auto-transfer so it’s one less thing you need to remember to do, and eventually, you’ll forget it’s happening until you are struck by the hefty savings you’ve accumulated! Easy tricks like this one make it ok to buy the shoes once in a while!
Although credit card companies are infamously opportunistic by serving us with interest rates as soon as we fall victim to our monthly bill, they do have programs that put the ball in our court. These “opportunities” come in the form of earning points for dollars spent. Some cards have attractive points incentives when you book travel, when you dine out, when you shop with certain retailers, and so on. Do yourself a favor and take the time to research a variety of credit cards so that you open one which rewards you for your lifestyle. As an example, my Chase Sapphire credit card offers me 2 points for every dollar I dish out on dining and travel, and up to 6 points for every dollar I spend at my favorite retailers (including Shopbop and Saks.com). Like points programs offered by credit cards, EBates is an online platform which facilitates cash back to you on purchases made from a vast majority of E-commerce websites. If that’s not music to your ears, you’re trying to relate to the wrong girl!
There are countless ways you can save your money. Although it’s a personal choice, it’s something most of us have to do regularly. I’m approaching 30 years old, and am recently married. I think that qualifies me as an adult by society. How I interpret that, is that I am accountable for my own savings and if my goal is to have a family one day, I must be responsible with my money starting yesterday. Whatever the reason to save is for you, I promise it’s worth it!
Illustration by: Hannah Kellner