You are almost 30 now. You look like you're having a lot of fun -
but don't forget to save for retirement."
Well, first of all, I'm nowhere near 30. Second, she didn't even with me a happy birthday in the card. And third, I'm happy to report that my financial health is quite well.
1. Eat out sparingly
Keith Ferrazzi thinks you should never eat alone. However, that doesn't mean that you need to go out with your colleagues every day for lunch. Or coffee - it's a slippery slope when you start with a morning coffee with teammates, then decide to go for lunch with other colleagues, and finish with an afternoon tea with someone from the office that you haven't seen for awhile and are due for a catch-up. While the peer pressure is tough, my excuse is sometimes that I'm running errands. When I do have lunch out with colleagues, i try to make sure that it's a group setting so I'm getting three or four catch-ups in one session.
2. Plan gift-giving
How many times do you find yourself running out last-minute for a gift? Instead, I use sale times to not only shop for myself, but to pick up gifts for others, too. It cuts down on the pressure one feels sometimes when looking for the "perfect" gift. You've already bought it four months ago, and marked down 20%! I also buy generic gifts and save it for casual acquaintances. Examples include:
- gift sets of food (think nicely-wrapped cookies or candy)
- artisanal products (handmade coin purses you bought from a market while traveling, local honey)
- personal items (bath bombs, sheet masks, leather journals).
These items are appropriate and handy especially during sudden situations like a colleague leaving or a friend getting a new job.
3. Make and stick to social plans
Aka, be less spontaneous. Impromptu shopping trips after brunch catch-ups are dangerous. A late-night snack or junk food run after going to the movies will kill your wallet. Grabbing an ice cream after dinner in order to prolong the catch-up session and for a change of scenery doesn't help your travel budget. Does it kill the mood? Possibly. Will you have more cash for that trip to Bali? Definitely.
4. Sometimes, spontaneity is good
I'm contradicting from my above point, but sometimes, the best deals are the last-minute deals. It helps to keep your travel plans fairly loose. If you've got dreams of visiting Tokyo, maybe keep an open mind on which season you see the city. When the price randomly dips to an obscene amount, it's time to pounce. I snagged a return flight to Sydney for a grand total of...$274. In New Zealand dollars. It was for an autumn weekend three months away from my booking date but that time frame was good enough for me.
Life abroad may prove to be a little bit cheaper if you're paying for it in a different currency. Even though I'm now in NZ, I still use my American credit card. Uber is cheaper in Auckland (first-timers can use my invite code 2bsfx for a discount) especially if you're late. When I'm initially charged in NZD and then see the USD charge on my credit card bill, I'm more than happy shelling out for the ride.
(Quick side note: flip-flopping between different international bank accounts can be tricky. TransferWise has come in handy when it's time to put money into the retirement accounts.