It’s better to live for the moment than save for the future right?
I don’t blame you for thinking this way. After all, life happens. Sometimes you need to spend all your extra money on random things to ease financial stress.
But, I challenge you to think about your extra money in a different way. Instead, try to think ahead of time about how you’d like to spend your money.
Let’s jump right in on how to do just that.
Anticipate Money-Saving Opportunities
You’re curious to find extra money, now what?
First, understand what extra money is. Any income or money that you receive besides your full-time job is extra money. That’s because this income isn’t dependent on any bills.
The truth is everyone’s situation is different. Some people will receive more breaks than others. But, if you improve at spotting these money-saving opportunities you’ll spend wiser.
Here are some of the most popular scenarios where you’ll receive extra money.
The most common time to find extra money is during the holidays. Christmas is a time when people spend a lot of their money. For example, GOBankingRates’ survey revealed that Americans spent $0-$199 for Christmas gifts.
But, relatives and friends don’t always know what to gift their loved ones, so they rely on gift cards. This is where your extra money comes in–and according to Bankrate, Americans spent more than $9 billion on gift cards.
Whether you receive a $25 or $200 gift card, this is an opportunity to be mindful of how you’ll spend this money.
Each year many of us including myself receive a check from the IRS after filing our taxes. Many people view this as FREE money, but this isn’t the case.
Because this means you overpaid the government for your taxes. For example, if you owe $14K in taxes to the government and paid 15K, you’ll get a check for $1000 when you file your taxes.
Although you didn’t lose money, you’d lost the opportunity to pay down debt or to save money. Regardless, this is still extra money. I’d argue that for some this scenario is a good thing if the money would’ve been poorly spent.
“In this world, you’re either growing or you’re dying to get into the motion to grow.” -Lou Holtz
Chances are you work hard at your job. You may love your field and team, but promotion is often an end goal.
According to Kiplinger, top-performing employees receive a salary increase of 4.5%–5%. While low-performing employees receive salary increases anywhere from 0.7%–1%. Taking the average annual American salary of 45K, you can expect a $315 bonus in the worst-case scenario.
You’re already working hard, so there’s a good chance you can expect some type of raise at the end of the year. Until then, prepare with how you’ll spend this money. But, if you’re like me and don’t like waiting for opportunities, there’s an alternative.
An Alternative to Obtaining Extra Money
So what other alternatives are there?
The short answer is dozens. Depending on how hard you’re willing to hustle, you have many options for finding the extra cash. What I’m referring to is building a side hustle.
A side hustle is a part-job that you’ll use to earn extra income. If you don’t know which side hustle to choose, here’s a great place to start.
What To Do With Your Extra Money
So you’ve anticipated your money-saving opportunities. You’ve even hustled your butt off and now you have extra money to work with. What should you do with this extra money?
Spend it mindfully. But more important, use this money in a way that brings happiness into your life. Saving money only for long-term goals can be boring, and shouldn’t be the only thing you should save for.
Here’s why–you’ll be less likely to stay motivated and will eventually spend your money poorly. Instead, here are a few ideas on how to spend any extra money you receive.
These ideas go against the norm of what most people think, but they’ve helped me improve my finances. My hope is that these ideas do the same for you.
Give Your Money Away
Believe it or not, giving to others can be more fulfilling than receiving.
When you receive extra money, this is the perfect time to give some to the less fortunate. You’ll feel happier and know you’re impacting other lives.
Research shows that people who volunteer their time and money liver happier lives. In the past when I volunteered at a center for helping immigrants, I felt more grateful. I saw people who struggled with a language barrier and had low-paying jobs requiring harsh labor.
Another benefit to giving money away is building an abundant mindset. This will open many doors in your life as you begin to see more opportunities that most can’t see. As Gary Vaynerchuck puts it well, have macro patience and macro speed.
For example, you may not see any positive returns the moment you give money away, but in the long run, you will. This is not to say that you should expect something because you’re giving money away. Yet, you’ll become a better person for it.
Don’t wait to give away money once you’ve reached financial success, start today.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” -Ayn Rand
Automatically Spend it
What you don’t see won’t hurt you.
Similarly, if set up an automatic budget, you won’t see any extra money. Instead, it will get transferred to different accounts, funding other saving goals. This can be tricky if you receive unexpected money, but you can follow similar principles.
For example, anytime you receive extra money, make it a habit to deposit it into your checking account. Saving money shouldn’t be your only priority, but it’s still important to save. And what better way than saving automatically?
Buy Nice Things
I bet you didn’t imagine hearing to spend your extra money on nice things right?
But, this is one of the most important rules for saving. You’re often told to save money only for your future. The problem is–you can feel miserable resisting buying nice things.
It can take years for you to save for a long-term goal. So what happens? You end up spending your money impulsively, sometimes spending more than you’ve saved.
Don’t go overboard spending all your extra money on nice things, but create a healthy balance. For example, set a rule to only spend 30% of the extra income you receive and donate the rest.
Practicing this method will increase your chances of being mindful of your spending.
Build A Purpose
I get it, you’re busy and life gets in the way.
That’s why receiving extra money is a great solution to start setting new goals. For example, maybe you’d like to save for a vacation 6 months from now but haven’t started. Maybe you want to pay down debt faster but have had a difficult time setting aside extra money to do this.
Regardless, having extra money can help you recover from bad choices and plan ahead.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Do I have any debt that I’d like to pay down faster?
- Are there any big purchases I’d like to make this year?
- When do I want to retire?
Mindfully Spend Your Extra Money
Picture living your life to the fullest and using your money to help others. You’re still buying nice things while reaching important financial goals.
Doesn’t this sound good?
You have what it takes to turn your financial life around. Mindfully spending $20 won’t feel life-changing, but you’ll maximize your spending. You’ll feel more grateful, and satisfied, and be a better person for this.
Having extra money is a privilege.
Create a healthy balance and make mindful choices.
It takes hard work and sweat for you to earn a dollar. Will you continue aimlessly spending your money and stressing about your financial situation? Or will you take action and start being mindful of your spending?