How can I buy nice things and not go broke?

How can I buy nice things and not go broke?

Times are tough. Inflation is high and wages are stagnant. Home prices still haven’t dropped and the student loan debt crisis isn’t going away. The older generations are warning the twenty and thirty-somethings to save like crazy for a retirement that may never come, and yet here we are just trying to get through the week pinching pennies in order to make summer travel plans. 

I remember years ago when Millennials were being criticized for buying avocado toasts and five dollar lattes. It took us a while before we could fully articulate a defense. The retort was we are no longer living in a world where skipping the little luxuries will make a difference. The economy and cost of living have changed permanently for the worse, and we are not going to enjoy our lives any less to save for realities that may never come. 

It appears that both Gen Z and Millennials have decided to embrace the best of both worlds: saving strategically while spending wisely. By diving deep into clever financial strategies like investing in the stock market (e.g. the Gamestop fiasco) to learning how to book cheap flights (e.g. skiplagged), young folks are finding balance and living full lives. And you can too! 

Here are five tips that can help you budget smart and save big, so that you can actually spend and not freak out after the fact:

Create a System:

Find a budgeting plan that works for you. There are a few different ways you can think about your budget. One method is the zero-based budget. How does it work? You simply make a plan using every dollar you earn. This means you must account for all your expenses, how much you are saving, and any excursions or treats that you want to give yourself. That all needs to be planned out before the month begins. The idea is for you to be intentional with your spending. So if you really want your avocado toast, oat milk latte, or VELA hijab, all you have to do is plan one month in advance for it and it’s yours!

Find a Financial Guru:

Some of you may want to consult with a financial advisor for more one-on-one help about getting into the stock market or how much to pay off on your school loans each month or year. I suggest finding someone that has some understanding (or willingness to learn) about Islamic finance. One popular Islamic advisor is Joe Bradford who does consultation calls. There are tons of other informative people to follow that will get you up to speed on money matters. Dave Ramesey has long been a popular financial advisor with a regular talk show. There’s also the female led Ellevest account on Instagram and the popular Tik Toker, Caleb Hammer. These types of persona and accounts will motivate, inspire and educate you to take your budget to the next level.

Pay off Your Debt:

If you have things like credit card debt, medical or student loan debt, it’s really important to pay those off with some vigilance. As Muslims, interest is a big no-no, so getting those debts that accrue interest shaved down is really important. If you have student loan debt make sure to look into the loan forgiveness programs, income-repayment plans, or what it would mean to reconsolidate. 

Cook at Home!

This one might seem obvious, but for some it’s not. When you’re busy with school or work and you just can’t make the time to meal-prep, it’s easy to order out. Avoid this temptation! Planning your meals for the entire week on Sunday night is important. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to make food ahead for the week, and eat the same dinner five days in a row, but you do need to have the groceries in the house so you can make the sandwich you take for lunch or the pasta you will throw together after work. Cutting out the fifteen dollar fast food lunch or twenty-dollar take out dinner will save you a lot at the end of each month.

Live within Your Means:

It’s easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle of wanting more. Everything we see online or on television entices us to buy more to feel happier. It’s important to remember that happiness cannot be bought. We must limit our consumption of social media which often leads us to the comparison trap. We have to create systems that keep us living within the brackets of what we earn.

The point of all of these budgeting tips are to get you closer to reaching your spending goals. If you want to go on that trip to London with your best friends, then you should be able to save five months in advance for it. If you got a new job and need to update your wardrobe to match the new position, you should be able to go on that shopping spree. If you want to treat a loved one to dinner, then you should be able to do that. It’s all possible, if you just learn how to budget and plan wisely. Best of luck! 


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