finance

"I tried the 'highlighter money hack' that helps you stop spending money on crap."

In 2018, more of us are living beyond our means than ever before.

By us, I of course mean me.

Instead of walking to the train after impromptu drinks, I catch Ubers. I buy clothes online and forget to return them. I order my coffees and lunch on ‘jump the queue’ apps that add however many cents to my order with every purchase.

Every month, without fail, the money I set aside in my savings account slowly but surely makes it’s way back into my everyday account (especially during the week before payday).

I’m not alone in my overspending.

A recent study found more than 25 per cent of Aussie millennials are currently living pay-cheque to pay-cheque, Bandt reports. Mamamia also asked millennials how much money they’re saving – most said that between rent and living expenses, they don’t always meet their lofty savings goals.

In an effort to put some discipline around my spending, I came across the ‘highlighter money trick’ from financial advisor and author Manisha Thakor on Refinery29.

Basically, Manisha says the idea is to track your spending for a month, and then go through and physically highlight any purchases in your budget that didn’t bring you joy.

Anything that didn’t make you happy, you can cut from your spending without feeling like you’re missing out.

Side note – Here’s The Barefoot Investor Scott Pape’s best financial advice for women. Post continues after video.

Video by MWN

OK, it’s at this point some of you might be figuratively (or literally) rolling your eyes thinking, sweetie, going through your bank statement or expenses each month is adulting 101.

That is true, but the thing that sets the highlighter money trick apart is that it’s about differentiating between purchases that add to your life, and those that don’t.

Depending on your savings goals and what life stage you’re in, not everyone has the luxury of trying the highlighter money trick.

If your goal is to save up for a house deposit or to start your own business, or you have a family to support, there are some expenses you just can’t indulge in.

But for those who want trim the fat off their monthly spending and stop transferring money from their savings accounts right before payday, it’s a great tool for figuring out the things in your life you value financially.

Of course, bills don’t really count because they’re a necessity, but taking a highlighter to your incidental costs might help you stop spending money on crap you really don’t need.

I decided to give it a crack, because I’ve got nothing to lose.

The first challenge was to locate a highlighter. Easier said than done.

After turning the living room upside down, I managed to find a yellow highlighter in a kitchen drawer. Only, the ink was dry, so I added ‘highlighters’ to my shopping list before realising doing this highlighter money trick isn’t going to bring me joy, so I crossed it off.

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Moving on.

I then decided to highlight my budget spreadsheet on my computer because I don’t get print-out bank statements.

After going through a fortnight’s worth of purchases, my screen was full of yellow lines.

budget
Don't judge. Image: Supplied.

One of the biggest things I realised doesn't actually bring me joy is buying my lunch every single day. Getting out of the office and going for a walk does, though, but I don't need to buy lunch to do that, do I?

Also - Uber Eats. This one is tricky because, at the time, it makes you 'happy', but upon reflection, I know I always feel like sh*t afterwards.

I also identified things like magazines and impulse Kmart purchases as things that didn't really add anything to my life. Rather, I bought them mostly out of boredom or just for something to do.

That said, I could clearly see the things I'm willing to spend money on at this point in time. Meals out and drinks with friends, flights to go interstate and visit family, sporting club fees to play Netball, and Netflix, among other things.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your own sense of discipline and what you place financial value on in your life.

There's no one 'right' way to save, but if you're looking for a place to start, pick up a highlighter.

Do you have any strategies for saving more money? Tell us what works for you.

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