How They Did It: Alli Saved $35,000 in 2 Years
Alli is currently an MBA student while working full-time as a Customs & Trade Manager for a large manufacturing company. Only in her mid-20s, Alli has saved over $35,000 by living below her means and sticking to a detailed budget. We met through social media and quickly found out we had a lot in common. Today, she shares her background and path toward financial freedom.
Tell me a bit more about your background.
I am originally from New York, then went to school in South Carolina, moved to Indiana for two years and now I am back in South Carolina. I really do not like the winter so I will probably stay in the south. I am the oldest of three girls and I am very close with my family.
How did you start your journey toward financial freedom?
I’ve always been interested in personal finance and finding ways to save money. I’ve had a monthly budget since I was a senior in college to prepare for my new job. I checked it regularly (few times a day). I have read countless personal finance books and investing books.
[However], my first year out of college I did not stick to my budget very well. I did not go into debt but I did not save. I wish I would have because my cost of living in Indiana was very low. Instead, I spent most of my paycheck traveling the Midwest and exploring with friends. I don’t regret my experiences but I do wish I saved more.
How much have you saved since then and do you have any debt?
I have saved about $30,000 in my 401K. The only debt I have is my car loan which will be paid off within 2017!
What are some of the methods you've used to achieve your financial goals?
- Review spending. It is important to review your spending so you can make necessary changes. I recommend reviewing your budget monthly to see if you need to change any categories. If you need help categorizing your spending or seeing what areas you spent you can try downloading the mint app or visit their website.
- Negotiate bills. I've probably saved about $100-$200/month by renegotiating my recurring expenses. When your credit score is high it helps you to renegotiate because [creditors] trust you. People think that the price is the price but you can pretty much negotiate anything. You just have to 1) do your research 2) be confident and 3) just do it!
- Money savings hacks. There are so many easy ways to save money with relatively little efforts. For example, every time you get a $5 bill (or break a larger bill) put it in a jar. At the end of the year you will have a nice chunk of change that you can use for holiday spending or unexpected events! For more of my top money saving hacks, see this article.
- Accountably is key. Since personal finance goals aren’t as visible [this can be a tough task]. It takes a lot of self-control. What has helped me is telling a close friend my goals and keeping her updated. I will text her when I am struggling and she will help me stay motivated.
The personal finance/debt free community is also super encouraging. My blog has connected me with so many people and seeing their posts gives me the extra push to stay focused. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Most people want to help you reach your goals so be vulnerable and if you need help just ask.
I wrote an article about staying accountable with your finances which you can check out here.
What's been the hardest part of your journey?
After you renegotiate bills or lower your recurring monthly costs you must find savings in the variable costs. My biggest two are Starbucks and eating out on the weekends. I have been trying to make coffee at home but sometimes it is easier to pick up Starbucks on my way out or way home (especially now that they have an app you can order it on!) [For example], my vanilla latte is $4.46! That adds up! I also have a hard time saving money on the weekends.
That is normally when I don’t stick to my budget so I am working on that. I am learning to say no to social gatherings. I also try to make sure I eat all meals at home during the week so if I do eat out Saturday or Sunday it does not completely ruin my budget.
What are some of your financial goals for the rest of the year?
I am really trying to build up my savings. I want to have another $7,000 in savings by the end of the year. I also want to increase the percentage of my paycheck going to my 401K. Even increasing it by 1% will have an impact!
Why did you start your personal finance blog?
I am really hoping my blog helps someone (even if it is just one person). I want to make sure everyone has access to personal finance resources and can succeed. One of my reach goals for my blog is to make some money so I can eventually start a scholarship fund. I want to help a student pay for at least some college expenses. I was fortunate to have supportive parents who could pay for my college and I want to help others.
What would you recommend to someone just starting out on his/her journey towards financial freedom?
- The biggest thing is to just start. Write down your goals and the starting steps. It is okay if you don’t know exactly how you will reach your goals. The most important thing is that you just start. You will figure it out.
- Research. I would recommend doing research because there are so many wonderful blogs on personal finance. I would also follow the blogs on social media because they post tips, quotes, and resources to help you get started and succeed.
- Stay focused and don’t give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. It might be tough but it will be so worth it in the end.
If you had unlimited funds right now, what would you do?
I would travel! There is so much of the world I haven’t seen. I am very interested in other cultures and traditions. I have been saving for a trip and I am finally going to Australia in April! I am very excited. This will be the 4th continent I have traveled to.
Be sure to check out Alli's blog FinancialliFocused.com and follow her on Instagram @financiallifocused.
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