How To Save Money When You're Broke AF
5 creative ways to slash your spends.
More broke than Trump's America? So poor you can't even afford to pay attention? Once as a student I took out a payday loan to buy a Domino's. Yes, really. Got your attention back, didn't I? (And I know, da fuq was I even thinking?)
If you're a money-spending expert like me, chances are you'll run further than Forrest Gump before you submit to creating – and sticking to – a budget, or actually checking your bank balance once in a while. Because saving is for square people, right? Or at least, people who don't enjoy wasting their time having no-fucks-given fun. Problem is, as you'll probably know if you got as far as this article, this careless attitude almost always ends up backfiring, and usually at the worst possible time – like when you've spent 20 minutes scanning your next week's food shop at the self-checkout to discover, to your red-faced horror, that literally all the money you thought you had has “just disappeared” in a matter of days. No posh granola for you.
Before you sign up for a sugar dating service or start selling your internal organs to get by; before you give up on adulthood and permanently move back in with your parents: hack yo'self with these five smart, alternative ways to save money.
Use your mates
No, I don't mean making friends with the annoying girl at work just to get to her rich older cousin.
Friends aren't just for group chats and getting drunk with, you know. If you trust your bezzies, take up the sharing-is-caring approach to friendship and cut costs by sharing media streaming accounts, swapping books, music, DVDs (does anyone actually still use these?) and clothes. This can even extend to travel if at least one of you is a driver – if not, sign up to some carpooling websites and sit comfortably as you befriend a whole legion of personal chauffeurs.
Snip your beauty costs
There is no room for beauty snobbery in the broke-AF lyf. Hey, Miss Manicure, I'm looking at you!
I'm sorry but when you're so poor, you're eating your breakfast cereal with a fork to save milk, you're gonna have to lower your standards a bit in the beauty department. Rather than intentionally looking ugly every day – sorry girl, but that ain't possible for you anyway – you're gonna have to reevaluate your relationship to your expensive beauty brands and treatments.
Take, for example, your favorite designer foundation: it might be your holy grail, but I'll bet Jesus only saved his for the Last Supper or drinking with his favorite disciples. If you can't let it go completely, save it for best: either stop wearing make-up when you barely leave the house or harness the cost-effective coverage of a good ol' dupe for all those occasions you don't need to look top dollar.
How about getting haircuts and beauty treatments for free? The idea might make you cringe, but search online for local beauty schools and you can get free or seriously discounted makeovers from a trainee – with the full supervision of a professional, of course. Yeah, it might take more of your time but think of it as your small service to the community.
And last but not least: DIY the shiz out of everything. Virgin coconut oil can be used for pretty much ANYTHING: make-up removing face wash, body moisturizer, hair tamer, shaving oil, anti-bacterial mouthwash – the list goes on. And you can make plenty of face masks and exfoliators at home from household ingredients like bananas, oats, honey, coffee, olive oil and bicarbonate of soda. If anything, beholding your oaty leper face in the bathroom mirror is free entertainment.
Quit the cigs
You can save money and save your lungs – who knew this guide would be such a lifesaver?
Did you know that the average smoker spends more than $2000 on cigarettes every year? That's a sweet 2k you could be spending on that trip to Asia you've never been able to afford – or, you know, being able to eat more than own-brand baked beans and 99-cent Big Macs.
Giving up is easier said than done but it definitely helps to be conscious about how many you're smoking and try to gradually cut down – especially when you're three beers down on a Friday night and your intoxicated brain has given up on the idea of breathing actual air. Of course, this also counts for other expensive bad habits: whether that's drinking on weeknights, overdoing it with cafe-made avocado toast or racking up excessive mobile data costs through mindless Facebook scrolling.
Go out without the guilt
They weren't lying when they said the best things in life come for free.
Fancy spending the night in a luxury hotel, dining at fancy restaurants or doing a bit of guilt-free shopping? Become a mystery shopper. Your job will be to provide feedback on customer service and quality and in return you'll either get paid or get to keep the things you bought. Going on an awkward-customer power trip is optional, but let's face it, you're gonna feel pretty entitled when you're kicking back in a posh joint chowing down on expensive sushi.
Option two is BYOB – but you probably at least have to have a couple of less poor friends to be able to pull this one off. Encourage your mates to treat themselves to a weekend meal out at a bring-your-own-booze restaurant and when they've finished their meal, cruise in to join them with a couple of cheap bottles in tow. This way you can have the drinking-out experience without forking out 10 dollars per glass. Perhaps best to leave that fruity vodka infusion you've been brewing in the basement for the past six weeks at home though.
Option three: befriend some cool DJs and get onto their club guest lists – don't sweat it, you were born a VIP.
Sell stuff to buy stuff
Absolutely need that new sneaker drop? Where there's a will, there's a way.
I know the pain of being a broke fashion lover all too well – just ask my overflowing browser bookmarks. You want to dress sharp – heaven forbid, even look on-trend for once – but nothing you own expresses the inner you the way you want it to. You've been wearing the same worn-out basics for longer than you've known how to French braid your hair and the millimeter distance between the soles of your feet and the harsh concrete sidewalk is growing smaller every time you don your grubby old sneaks. Yes, it truly is as wince-worthy as it sounds – but there is a solution.
Sell. Your. Shit! You'd be surprised how much cash you can make from selling your unloved gear. Is your wardrobe harboring one too many sorry-looking creased-up branded tees? Do you own some cool vintage items which you love but would probably never wear? Break your emotional attachments, clear out your closet and stick it all up for sale on Depop, Ebay, Facebook – even Instagram, using hashtags like #Instashop, #ShopMyCloset, and #InstaSale.
Finally, freakin' blow it! That cash is free game – a gift for your initiative – because no matter how broke you are, you still deserve a little treat once in a while (even if that's a seriously overpriced family-sized takeaway pizza).
Follow Dee Cunning on Twitter.