Ar'Sheill changed her mindset about money and within a year she was able to save up $25,000 while she was paying a mortgage, paying down her student loans and as a brand new mom - all of which she did on a $68,000 salary. In this interview, she shares just how she did it. Enjoy!
"When you make excuses about why you can’t save money you do yourself a disservice and its unfair."
What was your "why" when it came to saving a ton of money?
After reading your story Bola, my interest was piqued. I figured that I could at least attempt to save money for an emergency.
In previous years, I had saved money for a down payment for a house as well as a wedding. Those saving efforts seemed different because they were specific amounts I needed to acquire and I had a deadline for when I need to secure those amounts.
After more thinking, I realized that saving $25,000 could be feasible if I applied the same principles but I had to literally trick my mind into believing that this new savings goal was as big a priority as saving money to buy a house and that I had a hard deadline.
How much money did you save in total?
It was a few dollars over $25,000 in personal savings (cash on hand) and another $3,000 in my 403b.
How much income were you earning as you have accomplished this?
I was earning $68,000 annual but had tons of expenses including mortgage and student loan payments ($371 per month) and a never-ending credit card payment and I was set to take maternity leave toward the end of the year.
What specific things did you do to save?
I first took a look at my spending habits versus my actual living expenses. I was embarrassed to learn that I was squandering $500 a month somewhere and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Not even a new pair of socks. Next, I set up an account at a credit union but didn’t get an ATM card or set up online banking. I knew that I would not want to drive to the credit union and stand in line for transactions because I’m so impatient.
I also knew that if I set up online banking I wouldn't be tempted to steal money from myself and justify unnecessary purchases. I did download the credit union app though to monitor my progress. Next, I had money deducted from my paycheck and diverted those funds directly into the credit union account. My credit union also paid me $15 each month for secret shopper evaluations; which provided me a free $180.
How did you keep yourself motivated?
My motivation was to just save and be more prudent with my money. The real motivation happened once I started seeing growth in the little nest egg. Then it became a game to see how frugal I could be in order to hit my goal by December 31st. That year was the first time in my adult life that I decided to forgo Black Friday. It was hard hearing my friends brag about $100 flat screen TVs.
How did you manage the days where you just wanted to go out and spend money?
I love shopping, brunch and happy hour. Saying “no” to those things was difficult and it actually caused some friends to withdraw from our relationship. But I knew if I wanted to be successful I had to do things differently. On days when it was just unbearable, I’d go online, shop for items I wanted to buy, put those items in my cart and I would just leave them there.
What would be your money advice to your 21 year old self?
Two things I would tell younger self: “Do not buy that Altima with a 12% interest rate. You live in Chicago. You can take the train” and “Do not move into your own apartment until you have paid off your student loans. Compound interest is not your friend unless it’s being earned in a retirement fund.”
What steps are you taking to ensure you meet your ultimate savings goals?
I now pay closer attention to my finances. I pore over my accounts to look for random charges and fees, subscription services I may have forgotten to cancel and I reevaluate my spending habits for unnecessary purchases and impulse buys.
Now that I’m a mom to a 1-year old I find myself constantly being tempted to buy toys (that he’ll lose) or cute clothes (that he’ll grow out of). It’s important for me now more than ever to be more financially savvy as well as set a good example of financial intelligence. I didn’t have that growing up and have made many costly financial mistakes along the way.
What advice would you give anyone reading this looking for encouragement?
We all have very different financial circumstances but I encourage every woman to save something every pay period even if it’s only $10. If you have old clothes you can sell them on sites like Poshmark or eBay and save the money from those purchases.
The coins on your floor and in your couch cushions have value and quickly adds up. You’d be pleasantly surprised how fast $1 can manifest itself into $1,000 if you have the right determination and faith in yourself. When you make excuses about why you can’t save money you do yourself a disservice and its unfair. This journey is not easy but it’s worth it and so are you!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Ar'Sheill. We look forward to an update in the near future!
To keep up with Ar'Sheill stop by her blog at www.aryouserious.com.