18/05/2017
Coming for you, European summer.

Words by

Alyce Cowell

There are a few things in life that suck big time: having to work when you’re hungover, finding out you’ve been walking around with your skirt tucked into your knickers all day, smashing your phone screen and being on a tightass budget.

But I think we can all agree there’s one thing worse than all of these combined and that, my friends, is winter.

So I say we all put ourselves on a nation-wide, money-saving challenge and get the hell out of here. Mexico? Greece? Croatia? I really don’t care, but if you get there before me, get me a piña colada.   

1. Don’t spend any $5 notes… ever 

An advanced version of putting your coins in a jar at the end of the day, the $5 note system will have you saving a lot of money in a short period of time. Provided you still use cash, that is.

The rules are simple. You must not, under any circumstances, use any $5 notes that come into your possession. Not to buy a coffee, not to pay for a train ticket home, not to help a nice old lady at the supermarket who doesn’t have enough change.

2. Start your weekly allowance from the weekend

Like most people with zero discipline, I have to give myself a weekly allowance to spend like a five-year-old. Which is funny, because it’s about the same amount as a five-year-old gets, too. 

Anyway, when I was a money-saving rookie last year, I’d allocate my spending allowance on the Monday. I’d usually end up using it during the week on coffees, quick dinners after work and the occasional lunchtime shopping treat. By the time the weekend rolled around, I was flat broke. 

Now I start my allowance on the Friday, so even if I spend the whole thing having a great time, it’s only the weekdays I’m broke for. And let me tell you – it’s much easier to be broke on weekdays. 

3. Sell and swap your clothes

When you’re deep in money-saving hell, cracks will start to show. You won’t have bought anything new for a long time and will start hating everything you own. You’ll want to go and buy a new pair of boots. Just one pair. 

Let’s be clear – this is so not allowed. 

Instead, spend a broke, crafty day photographing your clothes and posting them on eBay or apps like Carousell. It’s fun to see sales come through and while you’re waiting for the money to clear, you can start window shopping and adding to cart. 

Another good idea is to host a clothes swap night with your friends. Order in cheap dinner, BYO wine and rummage through each other’s clothes on the floor. It’s practically like you went on a shopping spree, but with wine.  

4. Use PayPal to store your spending money 

So you’ve made it rain with your new *online store* but your job is actually only half complete. You see, when we get random cash amounts dropped into our bank account, we go a little silly and spend it straight away. 

To avoid this, only accept PayPal payments from your customers. This will now become your shopping fund where you can easily save up for things, track how much you have in the kitty and not spend it on 100 half-price chocolate bars because yes, “they’re a good price.” 

5. Make friends with Happy Hour 

Drinking and fun are usually two of the first things to go when we put ourselves on a budget. But there is a way around it: Happy Hour. One to three glorious hours of obscenely cheap drinks, so you can still have some social interaction and a light Friday night buzz, without the cost. 

The rules: you’re banned from expensive group dinners and wild nights out, but you can go to town at Happy Hour. Your budget is $10-20, depending on how much you earn, and your allowance for the week, which should buy you two to four drinks. 

6. Hide money meant for your essentials 

We’re adults now, so we have important jobs and responsibilities, which don’t stop just because we want to go on holiday. To make sure your bills get paid, you gotta get crafty and play mind games with yourself. 

For example, I give myself a monthly petrol budget. After filling up, I store the second half of the money in the glovebox rather than my wallet, because I can’t be trusted. When it’s petrol time again, I don’t have to dip into my spendings. Yay! 

If I don’t have to use the cash or forget it’s there, it’s usually a finders-keepers-losers-weepers type situation, and the money becomes mine, because I’m an adult, remember? 

Need more ideas? Here are 6 ways to treat yourself when you're broke af.

Illustration by Twylamae.