A Practical Way to Save Money This Year and Kill Your Depression and Anxiety at the Same Time

by Brian Moniz | All Matthew’s Place#FinancialFebruary posts are sponsored by State Farm.

We are now one month into 2018, and if you ask me, sometimes 2017 just felt like a longer continuation of 2016. It’s always nice to get another year behind us; a new year means fresh starts, a clean slate, new opportunities, and, of course, a new resolution. If you’re like me, having enough money to feel secure and safe correlates greatly to your level of happiness or depression. Last year I tried a new resolution that was the best thing I could have ever possibly done. As someone who has battled depression for over fifteen years, I can honestly say that practicing this resolution all year really helped get me on the right track to a more positive, happy state of mind and helped rid me of anxiety. What was this resolution for 2017? Say “no” more and being more “constructively selfish.”

Like many young adults, I enjoy spending time with friends on weekends, going out to lunch and/or dinner at a local pub or a nice restaurant and hitting the bars for a few drinks. Even when I don’t really want to go out, and would rather stay in and play video games or watch a good TV show, I still went out just to go along with the group. Seems like nothing but a normal Friday or Saturday night out, until you wake up the next morning with a hangover and see that your bank account has once again been drained.

Let’s break down the cost of going out, assuming you live in a city, and that you don’t drive (or plan on drinking):

  • Uber/Lyft from your home to wherever it is you plan on spending most of your night — $10–20
  • Dinner with your friend(s) — $15–25
  • Drinks at the neighborhood bar — 1 drink at $5–8
  • Cover to get into a nightclub/bar/social event — $5-$20
  • Drinks at the club — 2 more drinks $10-$15 each, maybe a shot or two throughout the night with your friend(s) — $7 each
  • Stop somewhere quick on the way home for more food — $10-$15
  • Uber/Lyft home — $15

Seems like just another fun time out, but this normal weekly routine will cost you around $90-$130…and that’s just one night!

In 2017, I set a rule for the first half of the year: From January 1st to June 30th, any time the “Wanna go out tonight?” texts came rolling in, I would politely say “no thanks, not tonight.” Months went by and I kept saying “no” to everything. “No” to going to the movies, “no” to that big concert or festival coming to town, “no” to expensive trips or nights out drinking, “no” to going out for dinner at a restaurant. “No, no, no.”

One of the best ways to save money comes from just cutting seemingly harmless, but very expensive, habits out of your daily/weekly routine. For example: Rather than spending $4.75 a day getting coffee from Starbucks or a café before work, just make coffee at home yourself, or use the free coffee machine (if you have one) at work.

That small, inconspicuous-looking cup of coffee at $4.75 each x 260 days (five days a week for one year) = $1,235.00 a year. That’s a nice two-week vacation, a down payment on a car, two months’ rent, a semester of classes at a community college, and so much more…wasted…on coffee.

July 1st came, and because I had been so disciplined in keeping my money splurges down for the first half of the year, it felt nice shopping for something fun to do. Now was the time to start saying “yes”. At last, I could take a trip and treat myself without worrying if I’ll have enough for rent next month.

A tip for anyone wanting to travel: If you’re thinking of getting a credit card soon, get one from a major airline as they usually offer 40,000 or more bonus points to start, and flights range from 2,500 to 20,000 points each way depending on where you go. In the summer and fall of 2017, I was able to take three trips and Reward Points from my Southwest Airlines credit card made all my flights free.

In September, Ticketmaster sends an email notifying me about two artists I love coming to town this fall, and asks me if I want to purchase early-bird tickets to either show? Yes, and Yes! In October, a cool new video game comes out, do I want to buy it? Yes! In November, my friend texts me, “Want to get dinner Friday and see the new Thor movie?” Yes! I have a three-day weekend coming up in a few weeks, should I travel somewhere and see one of my old friends? Yes! Let the second half of your year be the time when you (responsibly) treat yourself.

Every trip taken, night out, movie watched, and concert attended will feel more special because it isn’t putting you in a hole anymore and felt earned. Now you can do what you want — and actually enjoy it. A big difference I noticed after months of deflecting invitations to go out and drink is that the amount of stamina I had went up dramatically. Inadvertently cutting out alcohol made me feel more positive, sleep better, feel healthier, and put into perspective how empty, expensive, and pointless going out to drink is. You will discover so many other ways to enjoy yourself and pass time.

During one of my trips in the fall, a truly awesome feeling hit me — I’m actually happy. I was sleeping better at night, feeling more energized during the day, enjoying life more, seeing more of the world, spending more time with family and friends, and seeing a better future finically and mentally. I wasn’t depressed anymore from always being or feeling broke. I had a savings account and a financial cushion for emergencies. My anxiety was gone, my attitude had changed, and little things that used to ruin my day had no more negative effect on me. It reminds me of the line from Kesha’s song Learn to Let Go, “Your happy ending is up to you!”

If you have yet to come up with a positive, practical new resolution for 2018, try giving the “No/Yes” method a chance! The first month(s) will be rough, but the longer you keep it up and the more you save, the easier it gets! July will be here before you know it, and when it comes, you can give yourself permission to be selfish and do what you’ve always wanted and see places you’ve never seen, and none of it will come with the guilt or stress of splurging on something big. Say “yes” today to saying “no” for a while. It could be for you, like it was for me, the best thing you ever did! Your mental health… and your bank account…will thank you for it!

About the Author:

Brian Moniz is a 29-year-old man from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner. Read more by Brian here.