How to save 90% of your income

It’s amazing how much of your salary you can save if you make this your top priority. You can’t live like this forever as you’ll go crazy, but if you want to really work hard and save a large chunk of cash over a year or two for a particular goal, here’s how we saved 85% of our income for almost 2 years so we could start our own business. (Caveat, our employer provided us an apartment at the time so we didn’t pay rent, so clearly that would drastically reduce the %)
The secret all lies in envelopes.
It goes without saying that the first step is to cut all recurring bills that are unnecessary. Cable TV, magazines, etc., anything you pay every month but can cancel and stop paying.

So…buy a box of cheap envelopes and label them like this:
Food week 1, Food week 2, Food week 3, Food week 4
Spending money week 1, week 2, etc.
Gas money week 1…
Make an envelope for any bill you pay in cash
One empty envelope (will explain later)

Then…set a reasonable but small budget for each item…we did $50/week each spending money and $80 for the two of us for food (groceries) but this will vary on the person/situation. At the start of each month go to the bank and pull out all the money you need to fill every envelope. Then, put your bank cards away and never use them. Bills you pay online are accounted for but of course you don’t take cash out for these.
Each week you take the grocery money and ONLY spend that amount on food…making adjustments based on sales, seasonal items, etc. to get as much food as you can for that amount of money. If you need to spend more this comes out of spending money (i.e. bottle of wine, case of beer)…same goes for gas and spending money.
When the money is gone for the week…too bad. No more cash until the next week and the next envelope. You’d be surprised how easy it is to spend $0 if you really have to.
When money is left over from a week you put it in the empty envelope…and this money can only be used for one thing: fun. Don’t put it in savings, save it up and then piss it away…this gives you more incentive to use less of your spending money to have some to put into the fun envelope.
Seriously, when you limit yourself to $50/week you really notice how often you spend $2-5 on gum, coke, coffee, crap you don’t really need…you get to where you save all $50 for Friday to spend on one night out.

Try to have at least 2 days a week you spend $0, these really add up over the year.
These are the basics but it really does work. Other keys are finding free ways to entertain yourself…books from the public library, exercise, replaying video games instead of buying new ones….get creative, you can find ways to entertain yourself without spending anything.
We no longer do this as we’re back to a more normal life now, but the beauty is that although it’s been 4 years since we stopped, we are much more careful now with our money after having really tightened the reigns for 2 years.
The envelope system makes it so much clearer where your money is going than a spreadsheet, because when you go all cash, you can’t spend money that isn’t there.
Forgot to add: to really work you need to avoid all “big” purchases…no new TV, new lawnmower, etc…same goes for clothes. You’d be surprised that you can go a couple years without buying a single item of clothing and you don’t die. Your closet probably has enough clothes for 5 years, it’s really only shoes that break down.

How to overcome chronic procrastination

Adjusting Your Thoughts and Emotions

  • Stop punishing yourself for procrastinating
  • Tackle your most important task for 15 minutes
  • Give yourself a pep talk for motivation
  • Aim for done over perfect
  • Promise yourself you’ll get a reward when it’s done

Changing Your Environment

  • Pick the perfect work space
  • Download an app to avoid phone distraction
  • Use a program or browser add-on to avoid internet distraction
  • Remove your phone from the space if you need to
  • Listen to music without lyrics

Avoiding Procrastination in the Long Term

  • Make a list of how you procrastinate
  • Write a to-do list to set goals
  • Prioritize different goals with set deadlines
  • Avoid multitasking to focus on one goal at a time
  • Get a buddy to keep you honest

What to do, if you don’t know further anymore

First things first. You have to calm down yourself. You can’t do anything if you’re stressed out. Here we go. It’s something I recommend a lot around here. Find a quiet spot somewhere. Doesn’t have to be your study place. Could be outside if the weather is fair. But it should be quiet and you don’t get disturbed. Shut down all digital devices. No laptops. No cellphones. Nothing. You ready? Okay. Sit yourself down. Back straight. Don’t slouch. Now, close your eyes. Shift your attention to your breathing. Try to focus on the air passing through your chest. You feel that? Don’t change your breathing though. Just try to notice it without changing it. Keep it up. Keep doing that.
Okay. Now, you’re mind is going to go bonkers. You won’t be able to keep this up. After a minute or two, you’re going to be thinking about all the other stuff in your life. But here’s the thing. This is a game. Try to be aware of what is happening. Of the thoughts and feelings passing through your head. Instead of engaging with them, just notice that they pass through your brain and then shift your attention back to your breathing. Don’t judge, don’t feed your fear, don’t feed your anxiety. Just notice and shift back to your breathing. Don’t get frustrated if you feel you can’t keep up. That’s normal. Just keep trying.

Now, do this for the next 15 to 30 minutes. Congratulations. You just learned to meditate. You should practice that each and every day. Like, each evening before you go to bed. Or each morning before you get coffee. Your brain is like a muscle. Try to get from 15 minutes to 1 hour. That’s a challenge.
Why is this important? Well, we all live in our own minds. We are easily distracted and then we start to ruminate and worry. If you indulge yourself into negative thinking, you’re going to foster anxieties and fears and depression. The idea is to not feed those. Through meditation, you learn to become mindful, to become aware of what happens in your head. Of how you feel. And instead of focussing on a single narrative – like you flunking massively, and then going into depression and then going to die – you’re going to take a distance of those negative thoughts and you’re going to question them.
Seriously.

So. You flunk your exams. Your parents are angry with you. And now you are clueless about your life. And from there, it seems like a short step to death. Doesn’t that sound… a bit over the top? Let’s break it down. Will you automagically die if you fail? Nah. Not really. You’ll still be alive. Probably your going have to redo those exams or those courses. Will your parents stay angry? Hmm… they’ve been angry before, do they stay angry? Nope. They might be disappointed, but that’s to be expected. But being angry and disappointed, that’s wasted energy. Your parents still love you to bits, they are just worried about you and your future. Summer is coming? Sweet! You had nothing to do? Hm… Why would that be? Did you plan in advance? Did you sit yourself down for an hour and think “what’s the top 3 stuff I really want to do in the next few months”? Or were you just idling your time away only to notice afterwards “Fuck, I didn’t do anything worthwhile and now I’m here”

Also, exams are like a tennis match. You play several sets. The outcome is determined by how many games and sets you win. Guess what. Tennis is a mental game. If you start losing games, you start to become anxious because you think “can’t afford to lose more games, but dammit I’ve lost already, I’m not doing well, how am I going to win this? Never going to happen! Argh!!” See what I did there? Serena Williams wins because she doesn’t think like that. Serena Williams wins because she goes “Lost that last game. Damn. Okay. Nothing I can do about that. But hey, I’m still good. I love doing this. I love my life. Let’s see if I can win the next game.” Totally different way of thinking. This is POSITIVE thinking compared to NEGATIVE thinking. And that’s what makes all the difference in ANYTHING you do in life.

So, you probably fucked up at those last exams. You can’t change anything about that. It happened. Don’t beat yourself up. You still have work to do. Don’t dwell on the past. Use meditative techniques to shift your focus to the present moment. You NEED to study for the next exam. You can DO this. Don’t spend energy on whatever is distracting you. Stop worrying. Don’t use digital devices. Don’t watch television. Don’t game. It’s you and the book in front of you.

Take care of yourself!! Get in bed on time. Don’t stay up late. Get 8 hours of solid shut-eye. You can’t function if you don’t sleep enough. Stay off the sugared soda’s. Drink water. Hydrate regularly. Try to eat healthy stuff. Stay off sugared candy if you can. Sugar messes with your brain. Sugar addiction is a thing and makes you feel miserable. Make sure you get out! Get a 5 minute break after an hour of studying. Go for a walk. Don’t stay inside on your chair. Move!! Try to get a routine in your day. Wake up at the same hour, study at the same hours. Be economic with your time! Try to work out twice a week. Go to the gym. Go running. Break a sweat in a sport you find fun and engaging. Exercise takes your mind of difficult stuff for a few hours. You NEED this if you want to keep going.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t keep sprinting ALL the time. You need to pace. Don’t try to cling onto your parents expectations of your studies if you feel you can’t meet them. Own up to it and tell them you’re in trouble if you feel like your working towards something unattainable. Don’t keep pursuing a degree if you feel that this is not something within your own possibilities. Then you’d be only wasting your own precious time.
Do the work instead of thinking about off’ing yourself. That’s all it is.