As a 22-year-old living in a society where my peers constantly post their luxurious vacations, trendy workouts, and fancy meals online, I struggle with the constant paradox of trying to save money and the idea that I’m only young once, so I should be experiencing life to its fullest.
As I progressed in my college years, I found that more of my social life revolved around going out to eat, keeping up with styles, and meeting friends for drinks. I loved being social, but my wallet was taking a serious hit. By taking the time to replace, rather than eliminate, certain habits, I found that I can still “live my best life” and remain within my budget. Here are some ways to save money without making major sacrifices:
Sack the Soul Cycle
Soul Cycle is trendy and the music is fantastic, but it can also leave a giant hole in my pocket. If you have a gym membership, the stationary bikes work just as well as the seat you pay $40 for in a class. If you don’t have access to a gym, a real bike works just as well. BikeShare centers have multiple locations across the country and finding places to ride is easy. Apps such as Strava, CycleMaps, and Zwift can be used for guidance, mile tracking, and route mapping. They are also reasonably priced. Or check out your local trails by looking at your state’s tourist websites.
Strike a yoga pose at home
My friends and I love yoga — the workout, being present in the moment, and of course, the comfy yoga pants. Fortunately, I’ve found that you don’t need to drop countless dollars at a fancy studio to find your zen. If you’ve used up that free intro class at your local studio, the internet has a ton of movements and routines you can follow as well as free online classes. Youtube and Google offer videos with instruction, music, and breathing techniques. Some of my favorites include Five Parks Yoga with Erin Sampson and The Mindful Movement. There are also online subscriptions and apps that lead you through your practice for free or a very small cost.
Enjoy good food and good friends — without the expense
We use food to foster relationships. We go out for coffee to catch up and use dinner as a way to get to know a new partner. Every Sunday my friends and I go out to eat somewhere in New York City, which has started to really hurt my wallet. But building community over a shared meal doesn’t have to break the bank. Try inviting friends over for dinner and lunch parties. Everyone can contribute a different dish, which makes for great meals and less money spent. Plus, splitting a bottle of wine at home is so much cheaper than going out for a glass.
Cut your clothes costs
If I know I’m going to a special event, such as a wedding or a formal dinner, I love buying a nice dress or fancier outfit that I only usually wear once, which is clearly not cost effective. Try sharing outfits with your friends, or, depending on the occasion, there are many places where you can rent formal dresses for much less than a new purchase, and then return them after. If you’re not shopping for a formal occasion, but you still need something nicer, check out consignment shops. And if this doesn’t work, visit the clearance sections of your favorite stores before making a final big purchase.
Stop battling with brand names
I remember being in middle school and begging my mom to buy me clothes from Hollister. In high school, that wasn’t cool anymore, and I wanted Express and Michael Kors dress shirts. Then, when I got to college I wanted the Lululemon leggings girls sported to class, the gym, and out on the town (even though I already had five pairs of leggings that fit perfectly fine). I also wanted to make sure I had the best hair care products, soaps, and perfumes because everyone else in my dorm swore they made them more attractive. By the time I turned 21, I was finally able to step back and realize that trendy brands aren’t always worth the hype. I started switching to Neutrogena products for my skin because they worked great and were less expensive. I now shop on the sale rack and in stores like TJ Maxx to find great quality for less. I still shop, but now I just do it smarter.
With a little intention, we can still do everything we enjoy without breaking the bank. Replacing expensive activities with similar, cheaper options has helped me continue to experience the pleasures of my 20s while remaining within my budget.