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Shopping is beyond therapeutic for me. It’s my drug. I get a high when I find that $50 Anthropologie candle marked down $32, and I’m a sucker for a Madewell flash sale and can quickly find myself accumulating upwards of $100 on things I never knew I needed.

I buy things, mainly sale items, thinking I’m saving money. I’ll buy three shirts I don’t love for a total of $75, instead of just investing in that $70 jean jacket i’ve been eyeing for months. I’m a sucker for gym memberships that promise a lean body (intro fee $100, $150 for that monthly unlimited deal!), but go to the gym so infrequently that I’d probably save more if I just shelled out the $25 individual classes.  

Several weeks ago, after realizing I’d just spent $500 on clothes (go ahead, judge me!), I decided to take a good long look at my monthly credit card statement – something I typically ditch, unopened, into the trash! – and finally ask myself the question I’ve been avoiding my entire adult life: How am I actually spending my money?

The answer?

Without thought.

Motivated by shame, I cracked open my computer and created an excel spreadsheet right there on the spot – categorizing every purchase from my bank statement that month. And after that? I sat down and created a budget.

Here, below, are some Broke Girl Guidelines I’ve been living by while trying to spend more mindfully.

Meal Prep

  • Instead of making one meal at a time, make 3-4 at a time and box them up for future lunches.

  • Spending $12 on lunch everyday amounts to $60 per week, $240 per month. Instead, pack a lunch. Yes, I love my $11 Sweet Green salad, but I can make it at home for a fraction of the cost.


Make Your Own Coffee OR Buy Cold Brew in Bulk

  • My daily $5 hazelnut latte amounts to $120 per month.  But when I brew my own coffee and add hazelnut creamer, it’s just as good. Also, Trader Joes has a really great and cheap cold brew.


Strive to Shop Ethically + Sustainably

  • Try to avoid fast fashion. Double check that the brands you shop from are ethically made. Slow fashion activists are aiming to minimize mass production, poor work environments, and clogged landfills.

  • Unsubscribe from fast fashion retailer newsletters to minimize temptation.

  • Save up for quality pieces that you can wear longterm, and thrift the trendier pieces that you’ll likely only wear for a season. I recently discovered Crossroads and they have amazing brands. I got a pair of COS jeans for $25. Same fix, less damage to my bank account/the environment.


Keep Track of Your Spending Habits

  • Yes, ignorance can = bliss, but not in regards to finances. Track your charges everyday to make sure you know where your money is going. And be on the lookout for unnecessary recurring charges like that $9.99 monthly iTunes charge or a $14.99 monthly Amazon fee. Figure out what subscription services you can live without. Also, gym memberships. Typical memberships can cost $100 +. Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, or try a cheaper option like $40 per/month ClassPass.


At the End of the Month, Compile Your Spending in a Document

  • Create your own finance tracking budget. Total up categories of groceries, eating out, gas, entertainment, shopping, rent, bills, etc., and then see if you come out over or under. I found out I was coming out even, realizing I needed to strategize budget cuts or opportunities for extra income.


Get a Side Hustle

  • If you live in a big city with alarmingly high rent, chances are you’ll be pinching pennies. What are you good at that you could do outside of work? Babysitting, coffee barista on weekends, wedding photography? Get creative and expand your income opportunities.


Eat out + Go out with Purpose

  • Yes, postmating ramen ($25.99) and watching The Handmaid’s Tale solo is pretty much an ideal night in, but try to limit ordering in/eating out to when you are doing it with another person. Makes it more special and more intentional. When solo, cook for yourself, meal prep, and experiment with new recipes.

Natalie Hovee