January 7, 2018
Saving money can be hard. (Hi, remember me? - the girl that had once maxed out a bunch of credit cards and was over-spending by about $400 every month.) You'd think for someone that likes to tinker with her Microsoft Excel file budget so much I'd be good at saving money.
In a culture that tells us we need more right now (immediately, right this very second or we might keel over and die) many of us are in debt now more than ever. Many of us aren't used to saving up for the things we really want, but instead just swipe our credit cards. We always have great intentions of paying the balance off as fast as we can, but then something else catches our eye and we swipe again and the next thing we know we're up to here (you can't see my hand right now but I'm holding it up to my forehead) in debt.
One of the first steps (actually THE first step) to take when you're turning your financial life around is to make sure you have adequate savings built up. If you're going the Dave Ramsey route (and I think you should because, hi that way changed my life, but you do you), you need to have a $1,000 Emergency Fund in place as quickly as possible. This is what we call Baby Step #1.
Many people want to skip this step and simply begin throwing money at their debt as quickly as possible; however, this step is crucial because for many of us - the reason we're even in debt is because we didn't have enough liquid cash to cover an emergency when it happened. Having a fund in place will make the inevitable "when it rains it pours" moments seem much more like mere inconveniences, rather than emergencies.
Have a tire blowout on the interstate? Emergency fund's got you covered.
Family member sick and you need to catch a last minute flight home? Emergency fund's got you covered.
Your really cute beagle consumes a pound of chocolate one night and you need to get him to the emergency vet. Emergency's fund got you covered. (And yes, this did happen in real life.)
Anyway, I'll never forget how overwhelmed and distraught I felt at the thought of trying to save $1,000 when I started my journey.
"I overspend by $400 every single month...how in the world am I supposed to SAVE ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS?!" I muttered (or cried) some sentence like that.
But once I got a strategy in place, the $1,000 came much quicker than I ever imagined (we're talking like 2.5 months.) It won't necessarily be easy, and it requires a bit of hustle, but it can and needs to be done as soon as possible.
(Also quick side note: do not try keeping your savings, no matter what you're saving for, in your general checking account. It is inevitable that you will accidentally dip into that money or slowly begin to spend it if it just sits in there all will nilly. If you do not have a traditional savings account to put money in, consider a) opening a different account specifically for savings or b) pulling that money out in cash and storing it in a safe place in your home. Either way - get it out of the daily sight of your checking account.)
So whether you're building you're emergency fund or saving up for a new mattress, here are 4 ways to save money fast:
1. Sell Some Stuff
You may remember back in the day when I started this financial peace journey, that I kick-started my emergency fund by selling some things on (what was then) Facebook yard sales. (You remember...it was the same time I told you that someone was trying to sell Ed Hardy hair gel on there, too. ((What?)) But in case you're new here...you can read the story here.)
I was really skeptical of doing something like a FB yard sale at the time, but now it is completely the norm to sell your random things online. Thankfully, though, things have gotten much more sophisticated.
Facebook apparently caught on that creating groups to sell items was becoming popular so they created Facebook Marketplace. This is a much easier avenue to sell items than what it looked like back in the day, when you posted your item, and it just went on a normal Facebook feed, and the more items other people posted the further down the feed your item went, and you'd have to scroll scroll scroll to find your item and type the word "bump" in the comments to get it back up to the top of the feed so it wouldn't disappear down a feed rabbit hole forever (I'm exhausted just thinking about it). No, no, no more of that on Facebook Marketplace. Now you simply take a picture of what you're selling, post it, price it, and someone will send you a message if they're interested.
A couple of other new online marketplaces to hit the scene (besides the classic eBay and Craigslist of course) are LetGo and Nextdoor Neighborhood. Same concepts here as Facebook Marketplace and they both have their own apps. Easy peasy.
A note: I found that clothing doesn't do especially well on sites like this, but never fear - I've got some clothing-selling suggestions below!
(Disclaimer the world is scary sometimes: always meet in a public place when meeting a stranger to sell an item. If it's a piece of furniture that they have to come pick up, be sure other people are around. Also - only accept cash. People be crazy.)
2. Sell Some Clothing
There are a plethora of options available to us when it comes to selling clothing now. Obviously there are the old standbys like consignment shops, Plato's Closet, and Buffalo Exchange, but there are also some newer and more appealing options out there as well.
I've had a good bit of luck with Poshmark - a user-friendly app that allows you to take pictures of your clothing and quickly upload them straight to the app. Buyers and browsers can either accept the price you've listed it as or bargain with you. Once someone makes an offer and you accept, Poshmark will email you a pre-paid shipping label (hell yea). All you have to do is box up your item, print your label, and drop it off at your nearby UPS/FedEx store. The buyer has 3 days to decide whether or not they want to keep it and then the money is deposited into your Poshmark account, which can then be easily transferred into your bank account.
Another new option to hit the streets recently is thredUP. thredUP is perfect if you have a big closet purge ahead, and no time to take a gazillion pictures of all your things to upload onto an app. Just go to thredUP's website and request a Clean Out Kit. They'll send you a huge bag (with a pre-paid label on it for when you're ready to ship it back to them) that you can stuff with as many clothing items as possible. Send that sucker back to them and the fine folks at thredUP will go through your things and list them on their website at consignment prices (it's a great place to shop for inexpensive clothing items as well!). What they do not accept they will recycle and utilize elsewhere. You may not get paid for every piece of clothing you send to them, but they will recycle it for you which means (bye Felicia) it's out of your hair. As your items sell, money will be deposited into your thredUP account, which can be easily transferred to your bank account.
By far some of the most lucrative gigs out there are anywhere you "sit" something. Babysitting is how I've built my emergency fund, paid off a lot of my debt, and saved up for some of the extra things I wanted that my income couldn't support. Dogsitting and housesitting are equally as lucrative. Get your name out there, and tell your friends, colleagues, and social networks that you're available for these gigs. People will come take you up on it - I promise. It's worth the sacrifice of a few Friday nights.
4. Get a Side Gig
This doesn't have to be a permanent fixture in your life, but picking up a little side hustle is a great way to bring in more income when you're trying to build up your savings (or pay off debt). The question is not what talents and hobbies do you have, but rather which ones can you get paid for?
My side gig as a group exercise instructor has been a huge factor in my financial freedom journey. Plus - I get paid to workout. Who doesn't love that? I get paid $25/class and always have the opportunity to pick up more classes other than my regularly scheduled ones if I can.
I have a friend that really loves wine, so he picked up a side gig as a wine distributor through one of our local liquor stores. He works special events and hands out samples of wine and gets to tell people all about how delicious it is.
Or - maybe you love creating things like jewelry or art - start an Etsy shop! There are plenty of avenues to get paid for doing things that you love. (And if all else fails - pick up a part time job somewhere. It won't be forever!)
These are just a few ways to help you save money fast. Whether you're building up an emergency fund or saving up for that new mattress, these strategies are sure to help you get there fast.