When I started this blog, I had a good idea of what I wanted to build. I wanted to create an archive of content that, when put all together, created a plan to live well while spending less in an “expensive” city like New York. Throughout 2014, I wrote posts that addressed the “why” and the “how” – WHY should I save and HOW should I do it. I wanted to provide the nuts and bolts as well as the philosophy of finding your priorities and plan for building your financial life.
For my purposes, I feel as though I accomplished this goal for 2014. Of course, there is much more to write about. There are more “hows” and “whys” to address. However, since this is the start of 2015, it’s a perfect time to look back at the 2014 posts and pull them all together into a cohesive strategy.
I believe that you should always start your financial journey by looking at your “why”. Take a look at what is important to you in your life. So, as we review 2014, we start with those posts:
- Why Are You Saving AND Know Your Priorities – I reference these posts more than any other post on my site. I am constantly hearing some variation on the phrase “I might as well spend money when I’m young. You can’t take it with you!” To that, I say “EXACTLY!” Why spend money on gadgets and trinkets and clothes that make you happy for all of 5 minutes. You can’t take those material goods with you and they won’t make you happy while you are here. Instead, think about your priorities. Mine are time, travel, and relationships with friends and family. Then, spend money on that. I spend money on travel in the traditional way of paying for trips. However, I “spend” money on time and freedom by saving. Soon, I will have saved up enough to retire early and spend more time with family and friends. Your priorities may differ from mine, but really take some time to think about your priorities and spend your money accordingly.
- Lifestyle Deflation – Throughout history, many groups have understood the power of certain levels of asceticism (avoiding indulgences). In today’s world, we think that indulging and hedonism leads to happiness. This is not the case! Learning discipline and understanding that you are extremely lucky to have the life that you do leads to happiness MUCH more than purchasing the latest iWatch.
- Parameters for a Better Life – If you had an infinite amount of money, do you think your life would be better? What would you spend on once you had everything you ever wanted? Would you ever really know what you TRULY wanted in life if you could just have it all? Artists talk about their best work coming when they had restrictions on them, when they had to get creative. Likewise, you limiting your spending means that your entertainment consists of more interesting activities than just hitting up the club every Saturday night… yawn!
- Find Your Happiness – This is a post that reviews and discusses a short New York Times documentary about a man who calls himself Slomo. I highly recommend you watch it (or rewatch it). This is a man who has figured out what makes him happy (even if it’s EXTREMELY different from what makes me happy).
- Do You Have to Be More Successful Than Your Parents – I’ll be honest. I didn’t get as much feedback from this post as I expected. The pressure to do a little bit better than your parents generation is something that rings true for me. When I truly decided to explore my own path and define success on my own terms, that’s really when I turned a corner in my life and my happiness. I still want to put it on this list because it is one of my favorites.
So, now you understand a little more about yourself, your priorities, and what makes you happy. But when living in NYC or another expensive city is one of your priorities, HOW can you save money. What are some of the strategies you can use? Well, I covered what I consider the big four expenses in 2014: food, clothing, shelter, and transportation:
- Food: Cook for Yourself – Technically, this was written in late 2013, but it is part of the bigger picture.
- Clothing: Create a Wardrobe Plan – I am set with clothes so I only have to buy a new item when an old one falls apart! It amazes me that people have a MONTHLY clothing budget. I can’t imagine buying clothes every month!
- Shelter: Hacking NYC Rent – I now pay $875/month to live on 84th St on the Upper West Side. To people living in other cities, that may sound like a lot, but New Yorkers understand what a good deal that is! Plus, I avoided broker fees.
- Transportation: Don’t Own a Car – The competitive advantage of living in NYC is that there is no reason to own a car. In fact, owning one is more of a hassle than it’s worth. If you need a car for a special occasion, rent it for cheap!
- Bonus Summary: 5 Ways to Spend Less in NYC
Of course, achieving your financial goals has two components: spending less and earning more. There are some great ways to earn more money in NYC:
In 2015, I will be exploring earning more money even further. Keep your eyes open. However, for now, these were some of my favorite posts in 2014 that paint the picture of my personal finance philosophy, strategy, and tactics. Oh, and now that it’s college basketball season again, you better believe that I will be grabbing some cheap division III basketball tickets soon!
Happy New Year!
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