Being single allows me to do pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I never have to worry about including another human in my decisions. I also don’t have to worry about the incredibly complicated #coupleproblem of shared finances (Yikes! Scary! No thanks!). If you are also budgeting for one, here are some basic ways to get the most bang for your hard-earned bucks:
Track your spending
Thanks to the magical Interwebs, tracking your finances is almost too easy. It’s not entirely necessary to track your spending to the penny. It is, however, important to track where your money is actually going. Otherwise, it might feel like you spent a portion of every day walking around town and throwing money into random dumpsters. Most people like to avoid that feeling by finding a way to remember or track where their money goes—even if it is, in fact, in a dumpster. The World Wide Web has you covered with some really ingenious budgeting and money-tracking tools like Mint, You Need a Budget, Cleo, and a variety of bank-specific programs.
Follow the 20-30-50 Rule
If you’re going to follow one piece of financial advice, it should be the most insanely simple budgeting rule that says that your income can be divided into just three categories: 20% for savings, 30% for wants, and 50% for needs. If you bring home $3,000 per month, you can allocate $1,500 for necessities (i.e., rent, health insurance, car payment, student loans) and $900 for everything you want to buy.
Then you can save $600, adding up to $7,200 in savings for the year! Do your brain a favor: look up the cost of one first class plane ticket to your dream vacation destination. You can probably afford it if you follow this rule! If you’re not yet able to save 20% of your income, make that your goal. Start by saving 5% per month for five months, then move up to 10% for five months, and so on.
Invest your money
Financial investment options may seem like alphabet soup, but it’s not very complicated. Whether or not you receive retirement benefits at work, it’s worth looking into smart investments. Do some online research or make an appointment with a financial consultant. Honestly, even if you have a close friend who seems to know what she’s doing with her investments, talk it out! Once you decide you’re ready to look into options for financial investments, ask yourself some important questions like:
- How much money do I need readily available?
- What does a healthy emergency fund look like for me?
- What big purchases do I have coming up (i.e., home, car, vacation)?
- What debt am I still carrying around (i.e., student loan, credit card, personal loans)?
Start a Wedding Fund… For All Your Friend’s Weddings
One of the most liberating things I’ve ever done was separating my personal finances from the funds I set aside to afford other people’s weddings. I love other people’s love, but it takes a lot of foresight to save up all the money for travel, gifts, and clothing. So, I opened up a Capital One 360 Savings account to automatically take out $20/month and exclusively go towards other people’s weddings.
I can use this extra account to build up a healthy savings for plane tickets, registry gifts, altering my bridesmaids dresses after I lose weight, altering my bridesmaids dresses after I gain that weight back, etc. This will likely be disappointing to my mother, who will assume this means I have no plans of having a wedding of my own. That’s not necessarily the case, but I will definitely be broke by the time I find a husband because of how marry-able all my friends are.
Buy Things That Add Value To Your Life
This is where having 30% of your income to spend on whatever is incredibly empowering. You may want to treat yoself with new workout clothes, a fancy meal, a subscription to an online dating app, concert tickets, plane tickets, or all of the above!
This may also mean you want to spend some of your hard-earned money on sprucing up your home. Listen, I’m not sure what the @%$! hygge really means, but I’m assuming it’s a term for “Home Is Where The Pants Are Not.” If you’re going to throw money at any one area of your life, it should definitely be in making your living space cozy and reflective of your personality. Note: This definitely does not mean you have to go buy everything in Joanna Gaines’ Target collection (though I wouldn’t blame you).
Just Say No To Socializing
If you’re always the third, fifth, seventh, or even ninth wheel, it may be getting old to be invited out to social events just to watch other people canoodle. If that’s your thing, respect. But if not, apply what you learned in D.A.R.E and Just Say No. It’s perfectly fine to spend the night on your own with some Netflix and a box of mac n cheese. Your friends will likely understand and you’ll be able to give your wallet a little break from pricey drinks or meals. If your friends are pushy, here’s a list of field-tested excuses you may use:
- I think I might be getting a stomach flu and/or my IBS is flaring up again
- I have a FaceTime date with my mom
- I’m going to get drunk and build an online dating profile and/or IKEA furniture
- I have a ton of leftovers to finish and about 9 hours of TV to catch up on
What are your favorite budget tips for the #singlelife? Comment below to share!
Meet our Guest Blogger: Jane B. Diener!
Jane B. Diener is a freelance writer, foodie, and budget enthusiast based in Providence, Rhode Island. Her favorite foods include fries and the dipping sauces that come with fries. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and her food blog.