The Easiest Way to Save Money

I live in a shitty apartment.

No joke — it’s way out in the suburbs, you have to pay for parking, the air conditioning spits out 75 degree air, and there’s only space for a coffee table or a dining table, not both.

Whenever I open the door to enter or exit my apartment, my neighbor is standing in his doorway watching me. It’s like he can hear me approaching, and he runs to his door and then acts all loungey and casual, like he just happened to be standing there right when I arrive!

You get it, this isn’t my dream living situation.

Actually, there’s a lot in my life that isn’t ideal — my car clearly thinks the CHECK ENGINE light is like a OPEN 24/7 sign, I’m currently wearing old navy shorts that I got for $4 when I was 14, and my hair style could be most accurately described as a lion’s hairball, or what happens when you wash a skein of yarn.

If I started making a list, I could come up with a million things that I want to spend money on.

But for the most part, I’m a-okay with what I’ve got, and here’s why:

I’m in love.

No joke, I am head over heels in love in a way that I really thought wasn’t possible for a weird-looking, blueberry-shaped, frugal, pessimistic, slightly-belligerent, die-hard cynic like myself.

Everything is easier when you’re in love.

The other day, I missed a flight for an important business trip and I had to text my boss and confess and I was so embarrassed, crying in the Starbucks line at the airport, and then I thought, “This isn’t that important. I shouldn’t be crying. I am in love with the most remarkable person I’ve ever met.” And I stopped crying.

So being in love makes life easier, but there’s nothing it helps as much as saving money.

Because love is cheap!

When you’re deep deep in love, you don’t want expensive dinners, you don’t think about new clothes, you don’t need to throw down cash to have fun. Let’s be honest, when you’re in love, there’s only one thing you want to do and it rhymes with FedEx. AND THAT SHIT IS FREE!

My boyfriend and I on a tight budget, and when we first moved in together, I was worried we wouldn’t have any fun, and that our frugal lifestyle negatively effect our relationship? Hell no! Today we’re going to walk downtown, split an iced coffee and go sit by the waterfront and talk about our upcoming uber-frugal vacation.

You guys, if you’re not already convinced, let me be even clearer! Get yourself some love ASAP.

Being in love is like winning the lottery, over and over, every single day.

Wait, what? This is a little too mushy-gushy for a financial article? You saw my hair and you think it’s appalling that I don’t spend some cash getting that frizzy mullet dealt with?

Alright, I’ll tone down the love and tell it to you straight:

If you’re feeling the need to spend a lot of money, evaluate your life.

If the things you consider FUN all involve purchasing, spending and consuming, it might be time to think about the people you spend time with, your goals for your future, and your mental well-being.

I can only speak for myself (and speak I will!) when I say that I’ve had some dark years, I’ve had friends that really made me feel like a piece of shit, I’ve been terribly unhappy with my body and looks, and for a long time, I was in a relationship that made me question the possibility of joy.

And during those times, my absolute favorite thing was to spend money. I craved expensive dinners, I shopped online all day long at work, I constantly felt the need to treat myself and give myself a moment of satisfaction.

My former boyfriend and I would spend every Saturday at the mall, shopping. Just wandering the stores looking for something that we couldn’t quite name. We were trying to save money but we still wanted to shop, so we were constantly searching for a good deal.

The truth was we were unhappy with our bodies, we were in denial that our relationship was over, we felt alone in the world, and we hated our jobs. We both had huge dreams and ideas and goals, but we were frozen, unable to take the first step. We were treading water.

And for a moment, when we found a t-shirt that fit perfectly, that made us look like hot shit, and only cost $5.99 on sale, we felt really really good.

Until Monday. Until next Saturday. Until the next time we remembered how unhappy we were.

I don’t regret those Saturdays. Sure, I wasted a lot of money and time shopping for clothes, but I don’t judge myself. When I think back to those times, all I feel is sadness.

And an enormous feeling of gratitude that I’ve found someone to love.

That, my friend, is what I want for you.

I’m Emma Lincoln, and my life mission is to help couples create financial peace in their relationship.