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Inflation Nation Series: Sustainability

Sure, you know tons of ways to save money in these times. But it's a new game because everything costs more. Even the tried and true advice like taking public transportation or riding a bike to work seem silly as public transportation goes up when gas prices go up, and with one of the hottest years on us riding a bike sounds like a death trap.

Sustainability is the concept that repeatedly doing what you're doing is functionally sound long-term and won't result in deficits down the road. Sustainability is a concept that gets lost on those that win the lottery, as some lottery winners who become millionaires are reported to run out of money within the first few years--because they pursued a lifestyle that was not sustainable. Sustainability also refers to what's realistic for you. If you decided to eat a veggie and rice diet to cut costs on food, but you notice that you're throwing out celery and ordering in more, then your original plan was unsustainable. You'd be better off starting off with a couple of cheaper meals a week. If you're getting coffee everyday around the $3 range, M-F, which comes out to about $60 per month, it sounds tempting to go ahead and make all of your coffee at home to save that $60. But if you notice you won't really wake up early enough to do that so you end up getting your $3 coffee anyways, then it might be a good idea to start small by committing a couple days a week to make coffee or starting a coffee club at work where everyone pitches in to get the coffee supplies so it can just be done at work AND be cheaper for everyone.

Budgeting and saving takes creativity but also has to keep realism in mind. It's the same concept of someone trying to go from never working out to immediately working out 5 days a week. Yeah, because that'll stick. No one likes to start small but the science backs the concept that starting small can help you ingrain those habits into autopilot mode so that you're likely to be more consistent and less hard on yourself when you mess up.

So what does sustainable budgeting look like? There is no way around writing down what you spend every month to look at where you're at and how you got there financially. And being real with yourself when it comes to unnecessary expenses. But once you log or review your expenses by category, ask yourself if you can reduce each category by maybe $20 the next month. If you reduce your transportation, utilities, shopping/recreation, and groceries each by $20 for the next month or so, you'll notice what's hard and what's not. You'll notice maybe that you have a lot more wiggle room with your groceries and could reduce it by much more just because you overshoot every month but then realize you really can't skimp on transportation because of your commute to work being inflexible. But if you are able to consistently reduce each category of expense by $20 a month for more than one month and it doesn't hurt or create strain, then you're creating habits and maybe can take a look at your budget again and reduce each category AGAIN by another $20. Once you find your limit in each category, you can figure out where your true bare minimums are while still maintaining sustainability in your life.

Any budgeting or money saving and making hacks are much MUCH appreciated in the forum, help your fellow vixens out!

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