Managing our money is definitely one of the biggest struggles most of us face as we enter adulthood. It’s a skill that isn’t nearly as widely discussed/taught in school as it should be. Too many adults these days are living paycheck-to-paycheck, where any major, unexpected expense can potentially derail their entire lives.
Tori Dunlap is only 24 years old, but she recently realized she’s on track to have $100,000 in the bank by next year despite never making more than $80,000 in a year. Pretty impressive for a young person, right?
Dunlap said, “One of my biggest priorities in life has always been to save as much money as possible — and I owe much of that to my parents, who made sure I had a strong financial education at a young age.”
Dunlap acknowledges that she has some advantages that others don’t: she’s white, she comes from a middle-class family, and she graduated from college with no debt. But whether you’re as privileged as she is or not, anyone can benefit from her 5 most important money-saving tips.
1. Get on that side hustle
Dunlap said she worked an extra 15 hours per week doing social media marketing outside of her regular 9-5 job to help reach her $100,000 goal. She then invested all her money from her side job and 20% of her earnings from her full-time job.
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You don't have to stop spending money. You just need to stop spending money on things that aren't priorities for you. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 If that daily coffee brings you joy, awesome. But if that daily coffee is your excuse to get you out of the office at 2 pm, and you don't even taste it any more, something needs to change. ☕️☕️☕️ Make a list of your three priorities. These are things you're willing to spend discretionary money on (mine, for example, are travel, food out, and living alone in Seattle.) This list might be the same as mine, or include things like fancy groceries, manicures, makeup, clothes, etc. These are the things were the majority of your "fun" money should be spent. 💵💵💵 Then, use a tool like my Cash Calendar to track your spending and reflect on your purchases. Did these align with my priorities? Or did I emotionally spend my hard-earned money on something that didn’t matter to me? That’s where the real transformation happens. 💫💫💫 What are your three spending priorities? Drop them below! 📷: @oliviafrances143
2. Invest early
Dunlap opened a Roth IRA after she graduated from college and she maxed it out every year. She also saved six months of living expenses in a high-yield savings account for an emergency fund.
3. Don’t fall into the lifestyle inflation trap
Dunlap lives in an expensive city (Seattle), but she tries to save money in a variety of ways. She lives in a less expensive, less trendy neighborhood than many young people in Seattle. She has prioritized saving money over having a trendy lifestyle. She has a one-hour commute to work instead of a five-minute ride on the light rail, and her neighborhood consists of mostly older people – but, again, she is saving more money than her peers by not paying an outrageous amount for rent.
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Privilege. • This word, especially when it comes to money, can cause people to go from zero to sixty in a hot second. And rightfully so. It’s hard to listen to folks talk about privilege who haven’t done the work of educating themselves as to what it means and why it matters. • One of the core tenants of my practice is to acknowledge my privilege. A huge reason why I’m on the path to $100K is because I graduated without student debt. That was a privilege. Going to a private college was a privilege. Getting two four-year degrees was a privilege. • It was also work. My parents — who both grew up poor — sacrificed and scrimped and saved so they could help support me financially. A huge privilege. They also expected me to contribute — with profits from summer jobs, three jobs while going to school, and merit scholarships. It was a collaboration, not a handout. A privilege but not a hall pass. • After listening to the most recent episode of @fairercents, it got me thinking. Too often, we don’t showcase that both of these things are possible: having or lacking privilege, combined with hard work. I would not be where I am today without privilege: being white, cis-gendered, with supportive parents who were able to emotionally and financially support me. But I also wouldn’t be where I am without diligence. • With privilege, comes responsibility. Having the financial education I have is a privilege I intend on using for good. With this knowledge, I have the responsibility to teach and guide others. It’s what I believe I was put on this earth to do. • I know privilege can be a tough conversation, one that I am constantly learning more about and trying to be better at. Always more to ponder and consider and strive for… thanks for listening. 📷: @karyaschanilec
4. The three-bucket budget rule
Dunlap divides her budget into three buckets. The first is living expenses (rent, bills, groceries). The second is for goals (investments, retirement, saving for a house). The third bucket is for everything else. This is the fun bucket for eating out, clothes, and travel.
The percentage of how much you put into each of the three buckets varies depending on the person.
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“We all have a better guide in ourselves than any other person can be…” 🥰🥰🥰 Personal finance is just that — personal. Our emotions and our mindset affect more of our money than any APR or interest rate can. 💰💰💰 Changing your money habits starts with changing your mindset. It starts with knowing yourself and your triggers. It starts with small steps over time. 💪💪💪 This is where a money coach can help you. We see you for your whole person, not just the number on your statement. We’re that cheerleader to keep you going, with the knowledge of how to guide you. It’s my favorite thing in the world. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 You know yourself better than anyone else. Trust yourself and start building habits that will change your life. Go get ‘em.
5. Take things one step at a time and learn from your failures
We all make mistakes when it comes to saving (and spending) money. Dunlap said she took a job once simply because the money was good, even though her gut told her otherwise. The work environment ended up being extremely toxic, and she quit less than three months into the job.
Dunlap admits she felt like a failure after this experience and that it took her a while to rebuild her confidence, but in the long run she learned more about herself and what is important to her. She said, “Money is great, but unhappiness isn’t. Life is just too short.”
Do you have any money-saving tips of your own? Share them in the comments.