Convenience and comfort are not cheap. Try living in a condo and you will understand. Condo living offers the best living conditions, amenities, and security but these things come with a price. The monthly amortization or rent, homeowner’s dues, budget for food, and payment for utilities are absolute necessities that you can’t slash off your monthly budget. But lifestyle is a tricky subject. Ask yourself: how many cups of overpriced coffee do you have in a week? How crazy are you about gadget upgrades? Do you really need the new pair of shoes or new signature bag you bought? And finally, when are you going to realize that a lot of the things you have do not really satisfy your needs but only gratify your vanities?
The millennial generation or adults under 35 are struggling with savings and are deep in debt. A 2014 study commissioned by Wells Fargo reveals that four in 10 millennial Americans have “overwhelming” debt, with 56% living from paycheck to paycheck or some call it, “modern slavery.” Majority of the young working population are not saving for retirement because they don’t have enough money.
This is also probably the story of some dwellers living in condos in the Philippines who feel they don’t have enough. Well, you do and yes, you have enough to save. You just need to put your heart into saving your hard-earned money and save while living a condo.
Don’t swipe, use cash
The credit card is not your best friend. Remember that. Use cash for your groceries, gas, watching movies, or eating out. Paying in cash makes the spending more real. There is a physical and actual reminder that you are running out of cash so you will stop spending beyond your means.
Financial adviser Suze Orman says that you should not allow yourself to charge to your credit card anything that you can’t afford to pay in full at the end of each month.
Use the envelope system
The idea is still using cash for spending. Split your expenses into categories and put them in envelopes. This will give you a better grasp of how much you have and how much you can spend. For a condo dweller, you can have bills (rent and utilities), non-bills (groceries, gas), and miscellaneous categories.
Prioritize savings and debt
The one saving tip to live by is this: when it comes to saving, always try harder. It is assumed that before you decided to live in a condo, you have thought of your expenses vis-à-vis your income with allowance for savings. So how come you don’t have savings and are deep in debt?
When you receive your next paycheck, set aside your intended savings (10-20% of your income) then pay your debt first. Treat savings just like you treat other financial obligations — a must. If savings and debt come last, the tendency is you will shortchange them and spend on non-essentials instead. But if you prioritize them, you will realize you still have enough for rent and utilities, which of course you may not compromise.
De-clutter and sell
Simplify your home and the way you live by getting rid of all the excess stuff in your condo. Re-assess your needs: do you really need an extra TV set? Do you still need that DVD player when you download movies anyway? Sell the things that you know still have value. There are a lot of websites and apps for that. Not only will you have extra money to add to your savings, your condo will also look more peaceful and it will be harder for you to buy stuff that will clutter things up again.
Review the monthly expenses for utilities. Decide on which subscriptions you can let go of. For example, do you really need cable TV if you can watch your favorite shows online? Is it wise to keep a landline when you have a mobile phone? Speaking of mobile phones, re-assess your usage and cut back on the plan if you can. If you have free internet access in the office and has wi-fi in the condo building, you might not need a surf-all-you-can postpaid plan.
Car or no car?
The best thing about condos is probably proximity to all important places. Most condominiums are in walking distance to business districts and public transportation, so if you are planning to buy a car, think again. The location of a condo makes it possible to eliminate one of the biggest drawbacks on savings — car mortgage. If you are thinking of how you save as a condo dweller, take advantage of the condo’s good location and save on loan interests, gas, and service. Maybe you can save enough to get a car in cash and in full someday.
Don’t fall for “everything-must-go” sale
Don’t buy anything you don’t need. And don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Mall discounts are not your friend.
Keep the change
Piggy banks and cookie jars will never go out of style. Keep one in your condo and get your family involved. Empty your wallet and purses of coins every now and then and you will be surprised how much you have saved effortlessly by the end of the year.
Cook at home
Forget eating out too often, ordering take-out, or passing by a drive-thru before going home. Learn how to prepare simple dishes. Everything you need to know anyway is online. Not only is this cheaper, but also healthier.
Stay home on weekends
The good thing about condo living is that it comes with everything you need. There are parks, pools, and pavilions for your weekend relaxation and bonding with family. So stay home and save those few thousand bucks you will spend on the mall or a resort.
Saving should not be difficult. Remember that you owe it to yourself to save for a good future because you have been working so hard. You don’t need to compromise the comfort and convenience of condo living just to save, you just have to re-assess the way you live. Pablo Picasso once said that the goal is to “live like a poor man with lots of money.” In short, be financially honest. Do not spend the money you don’t have just to impress people (you don’t even like). Start saving now.