penny icon

Hate budgets? Try these 3 things instead

Tips for mindful spending in action, and budgeting ideas you’ll actually stick to.

📸 Credit: Pinterest

We’ll be the first to admit it: Budgeting can really suck the life out of ya. 

First off, most budgeting advice out there are one-size-fits-all solutions that make zero sense when you apply them IRL. And they’re super complicated! Save 20% of income, don’t spend over 50% on rent, keep 5% for retirement. Sure, we got calculators on our phone, but seriously? No way. 

Lastly: It puts you in a weird mindset, like you need to cut things *out* of your budget. And we have a BIG problem with that. You’re making money. You worked hard for it. We want you to enjoy it!

We could go on and on for this pet-peeves list, but point is: traditional budgeting sucks. 

We created a Mini Budget method with easy-to-calculate, easy-to-remember, personalized-to-you numbers. If you’re into money planning that *actually* make sense, bookmark that page first. 

If ANY kind of budgeting feels too much for you, we got you. 

We’ll cover major tips on how to create mindful spending habits you can try instead – and list a few ideas for inspiration on how you can start to save and spend money differently. (I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?)

Tip # 1: Fund your budgets, don’t cut them. 

Your weekly $100 dinners out with girlfriends won’t stop you from achieving you bigger goals. And cutting out your morning lattes certainly won’t move the needle. There, we said it. 

This is what the financial industry doesn’t want you to know: With a few smart money moves, you can live the life you want – *and* save for your future – without feeling like an old miser who needs to collect newspaper coupons for weekly cash savings.

Plus, you don’t need a finance degree to make smart money moves. We know you are entrepreneurial; every woman is. We figure it out. Always. Yeah, we’re that smart. 

So, can’t imagine forgoing that daily salad that helps you stay *super* healthy? You don’t have to. 

Figure out how to fund it, instead. 

Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Sign up for new credit card offers, and get bonuses of $100 to $500 and up
  • Sell clothes on Thredup, Poshmark, or RealReal (perfect spot to window shop too!)
  • Have a garage sale & de-clutter your house at the same time (time to try that KonMari style)
  • Recycle old electronics on Gazelle
  • Offer to rewrite your friend’s resume for $50 
  • Airbnb your apt or house when you go on vacation (post COVID world of course)
  • Walk your neighbor’s dog on Fridays for $50 
  • Consider HomeExchange for your next getaway  
  • Search for coupon codes for 10 minutes before submitting your order (sometimes it’s worth it!)
  • Babysit your cousin’s kids one night for $100
  • Ask for that raise at work!!!! 
  • Learn how to invest – even small moves have big returns 

Tip # 2: Pick ONE NUMBER – and spend on whatever you want!

Finally, a SPEND ON WHATEVER YOU WANT fun budget!

(Repeated, in caps, in case you didn’t think you read that right.)

Pick *ONE number* for your fun, do-whatever-you-want-with budget.

This number is the absolute MAX you get to spend on fun stuff.

If you’re familiar with our Mini Budget exercise, this just-for-fun number is ideally what’s left-over after you subtracted all your expenses. But you can also work the other way around: Pick your fun-budget number first, and see what happens when you stick with it. 

(*Crash Course: your Mini Budget = your paycheck (after tax), minus must-pay and must-have items, minus retirement savings. Your fun money is whatever is left over to save, spend, and invest to your heart’s content. Click here for a full step-by-step breakdown on how to do this)

One number. Memorize it. Love it. Honor it. 

And shop like you’ve never shopped, without the guilt.

With traditional budgeting, you need to memorize how much you wanted to spend: $60 on Ubers/taxis, $200 on shopping, $100 at hair salon, but also $150 for personal care, etc. …Honestly, it’s exhausting. How on earth can you live your life *and* keep up with the laundry list of budgets? 

When you have ONE fun budget number to focus on, it is WAY easier to remember that’s what you need to stay under (and actually commit to it). 

Mindful spending is about knowing your numbers and prioritizing what’s important – to YOU. 

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to cut things out – including stuff you didn’t even realize you were spending a small fortune on. 

When you know how much you have to play, it’s easier to prioritize your expenses. 

Maybe you are booking a vacation that eats up three months of your fun budget. Now you know you gotta lay low to get that Tulum sun. It is a balance. There is power in just knowing you can do it.

Side note from Crissi – “I LOVE shopping. Obsessed. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Receiving a box from Revolve is better than anything else in the world. So…. I am not going to stop. But I picked one number. $500 a month. And I use my $500 a month wisely. You think $500 is a lot? It is not -2 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, and it’s gone. I have become sooo intentional about which 3 things I get to have. I have to think about it multiple times before I purchase. I can heart as many things as I want, and that is bliss in itself. Then, after spending my $500 limit, I delete the app from my phone. It is hard. Really hard. Trade off? I got the apartment with the bathtub and big-ass windows. Because that brings me more happiness at the end of the day than a new tee. Living that dream means I gotta draw the line somewhere, and that somewhere I spend absurd amounts of $ is shopping.” 

If you don’t know where to spend it yet, save it for later – or even better, invest it and watch it grow

Tip # 3: If you *really* need to downsize, keep it light

We get it! You gotta eat, live, work, play – and sometimes your paycheck isn’t quite where it needs to be yet. Honestly, sometimes cutting back in one area is also a good excuse to spend more in something we really care about. (Did someone say designer bags on sale? Yes, please!)

Use these hacks to save in places you never thought you could:

  • Buy used books instead of new ones (or use Kindle or Audible – $15 beach reads add up!) 
  • Use RTR and Vitineer to rent clothes
  • Check TheRealReal for discount luxury items
  • Share a car with friends 
  • Walk everywhere. Savings and exercise all in one!
  • Sign up for online workout classes instead of in person group classes ($35 a class down to $20 a month – major savings!)
  • Share Netflix & Amazon prime accounts with friends (subscriptions don’t break the bank, buuut it’s something) 
  • Buy a juicer for $69 on amazon instead of $5 green juices all the time
  • Buy in bulk, like a 30-pack of razors instead of 6-pack (buy more to save more works sometimes!)
  • Call your phone company and ask to be bumped down to the lower plan (very rarely you are using that amount of data)
  • Add things to your cart, but pause before one click buying. 5 minutes. Just think about it for more than a second. “Do I *really* need this lymphatic draining brush set that is $100?” The $6 dry brush might be a better place to start. 
  • Have separate credit cards for different big budget items (Ex. 1 for shopping, 1 for Amazon, and 1 for everything else – that way it’s even easier to stay on track. But you gotta pay them all off at the end of the month!)

Be mindful of your spending, and don’t be afraid to get creative. If you need to scale back, don’t default to cut out mani-pedis, facials, massage. Life is hard. Treat yourself. Enjoy every second of it. Dance your way to the nail salon, and dream of what color you are going to pick. We’re here for it.

What are your money and lifestyle hacks? Do you have other lifestyle tips for better budgeting?  Email us at support@penny-finance.com.

Figuring out the most sustainable strategy is key. Not sure what your fun budget should be? Our money quiz can get you started.

take me to the app
start with a penny