A.Do not go into debt: Never buy anything you cannot afford to fully pay upfront. You don’t need 99% of that stuff anyway. This applies not only to expensive stuff but also to cheap things as well. They just add clutter to your life and clutter is very bad, so do not buy them. Occasionally, you will really need something (like a bike to commute, a hat to keep you warm, a decent shirt, a new computer, etc.): in these cases, do not buy the cheapest thing on earth either. You are buying something that you really need so it is better for it to last. Buy something that will be durable even if it ends up costing more (within reason). Remember: “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.
UPDATE:It may look counter-intuitive, but this often applies to real-estate purchases as well: I see many of my friends buying a hugely expensive house (that they cannot afford) thanks to a 30-year mortgage and they even boast that this is the best investment they ever made. If you crunch the numbers and look at the expenses, ROI, etc. … most of the times, buying an expensive house with a long mortgage actually does not make any (financial) sense as renting is often cheaper and a more financially sound option.
B.Sell your car & your motorbike. In theory, cars are amazing, complex machines to go fast from A to B, but since these days everybody has one, we all end up stuck in traffic, get nervous and spend a lot of money in gas. Also, all the million cars out there are killing our atmosphere by releasing huge amounts of CO2 while you seat behind the wheel going to work at the speed of a donkey. It’s dumb. Same for motorbikes, except that they are an order of magnitude more dangerous and capable to kill you (given that they offer zero passive protection in case of an accident). Use a bike or, even better, the public transport (which is way cheaper, safer and also allows you to read books during transfers & commuting, a great added benefit if you want to become a better person – and not just to save money: more on this below).
C.Food shopping with brain: do not do food shopping while you are hungry (ie. before lunch or dinner, for example), as you will be instinctively pushed to buy useless stuff to satisfy a temporary craving. Also, there is no reason to buy bottled water and all that sugary/processed stuff (chocolate, biscuits, gummy bears, fake cheese, potato chips, snacks, sugar-added white bread, etc.). Try to eat decently and in moderation: vary your diet, spend your money wisely and, as a rule of thumb, only for food that your grandma would still look at and define as “food”.
D.Diet: eat less red meat (once a week should be fine) and eat more greens, beans & eggs instead. Reduce beer/wine, eliminate super-alcoholic drink (vodka/gin/whiskey/etc.). Stay away from fast foods even if they are conveniently located, cheap and occasionally irresistible (I am terrible at resisting to MacDonald’s French fries). There are plenty of delicious & healthy recipes you can (quickly) cook by yourself for 3$ or less (check Quora).
E.Ditch fake friends (both from real life and social media): stay away from poisonous relationships. You don’t need all these “fake” friends anyway. They don’t add anything to your life: most of them really do not like you or appreciate you, they are competitive, boring, unavailable when you need them and will be actively working (occasionally jointly conspire!) against you. They are terrible. Choose quality over quantity: tell them you’re “very” busy, do not answer to them on Whatsapp, slowly clean them up from your social media. Slowly they will lose interest in you. That’s fine. You will feel lonely (or even a little guilty) at the beginning: that’s just an impression and this is why they invented very interesting books to keep you busy when your true friends are not available to go out (more on this below).
F.Invest your savings (wisely): stay away from the investment funds with really cool/impressive names that your tie-wearing banker will be eager to recommend you. They are crap, really. Do this instead: invest part of your monthly salary (10/20/30%, the more the better) on a very cheap ETF based on the performance of a large basket of North American companies (like Vanguard’s VOO, or other similar ones: look at the commissions you are paying for that, they must be low… like 0.0x%). You must do this every month, no matter what. Save and do not touch these savings. Ever. [This point is essential]
G.No TV: sell your TV on eBay and cut all cable TV services/bills. TV is useless, addictive and makes you dumb. If you really miss some good TV Shows (I like Magnum P.I.) you are smart enough to use Google. Also, there are amazing documentaries from the BBC and NatGeo on Youtube (I love those about WWII and African animals). As a commenter suggested, obviously the same applies to Cinema.
H.Go to gym or do some running: Exercise regularly (twice a week should be a good start), as this will keep you away from huge medical bills down the road. Running for 45 minutes doesn’t cost a dime and it’s a great stress reliever (I noticed it also helps my brain work better afterwards). Stay away from those expensive/”posh” gyms where people only go in order to show off their immaculate Nike outfit, stare at each other and drink Gatorade. 🙂
I.Read more books (mostly non-fiction). Follow your passions, focus on certain topics, read everything about them and then vary the topics. I cannot overestimate how much this is important. Reading a lot of good books will make you smarter. This is a time consuming exercise that may require you to plan your daily routine accordingly: so do it.
J. Do not eat outside:cook at home. Eating at restaurants is impossibly expensive and makes you fat. Learn how to cook good meals at home. Your waistline (and not just your wallet) will thank you. Learn new recipes from other countries. Some are really amazing, cheap and super easy to prepare. Cooking is – incidentally – a very interesting activity “per se” and it’s also a great way to impress your partner (as most people these days don’t cook at all). Your parents, friends and partner will really appreciate that you dedicated yourself to “create” something for “them” to enjoy. It is a good thing.
K. Consider leaving your salary job and becoming an entrepreneur.Salary jobs are really a great thing (it’s awesome to know that, no matter what, you will get a pay-check at the end of the month) but they are not fit for all of us. Think about it and if you believe that you are better fit for an entrepreneurial job, don’t be scared of this. Get prepared, save more money, start working on your ideas and then… act! There has never been a better time in the history of humanity to be an entrepreneur. You don’t really need to change the world but if you will be capable to execute your ideas ably, the financial reward will be an order of magnitude larger than most salary jobs you can find out there.
L. Stop smoking cigarettes, immediately. Smoking costs a fortune, gives you many different types of cancer even at young ages (for real) and makes your breath disgusting. If you smoke you don’t look sexier, you look dumb. It’s incredible that people still smoke these days.
M. Prepare for the unexpected.Remember that things do not always go in the right way: people you trust won’t keep their promises, you will make stupid mistakes that will cost you money, you can lose your job, people will behave irrationally with you, the stock market may crash tomorrow, you may fall down from your bike, you can have impossible tooth-ache, and the list goes on. All these things happen, often without a reason. It is useless to cry and blame the bad luck. Be prepared, save money in the bank so that you have a ready-to-use emergency fund in cash (3/5 times your monthly salary should be fine) and act to fix things promptly (a la Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction). Having cash in the bank and acting quickly will make a world of difference in these difficult situations that happen to all of us.
N. Be critical. Be critical of what other people tell you. Be critical when certain things/people seem too good to be true: 99% of the times they really are not, so it is better for you not to be disappointed (and save your money/time). Be critical of other people’s values: you will be the result of a myriad of your own decisions, not of other people’s. You should be proud of this. Other people may be in good faith when they speak with you and try to convince you of something. But most of them simply do not have your same background, nor your same outlook on the future. Give your ears to a wisely selected few. Be critical also with yourself and your own values. You are not the repository of truth either and you should constantly check if what you’re doing is right or wrong (ideally you should do this at least on a daily basis): do not be afraid to realize that you have made a mistake (even a painful or costly one). That’s normal, but still you owe yourself to learn from it and not have this experience pass without you becoming a better, wiser person. Also: many mistakes can be fixed if you spot them early enough. Being critical is very important.
O. Do not do gambling, lotto, lotteries, sporting bets, dog races bets, cock-fighting bets, poker, black jack, etc.They are simply not worth your time (and even less your money). If you do, you spend your precious time and hard earned money to make someone else rich, think about it. It’s ridiculous.
P. Try “Zero Dollar” days. Can you manage to live one full day without touching a penny? We should all experience frugality regardless of our social and economic status: eating whatever is on the fridge, enjoying life for the experience you can have, not for the things you can buy. Regardless of the actual saving, it is satisfying to realise that you do not actually need money to enjoy life. Frugality has a value in itself. Not being dependant on money to enjoy a night with your partner or your friends. Not being dependant on money to have a good meal at home. You don’t need to “go shopping” to enjoy a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Q. Reduce social media. Analyze your interactions with social media. If you have reason to believe that social media are not adding much to your life (and this is valid for the vast majority of us), you can decide to go on a “social media diet”. Initially, you can just reduce the friends & followers from Facebook and Twitter (starting from the “fake friends” for example). The more you reduce them, the less cluttered your newsfeed will look. Eventually you will see less updates and you will realize that it won’t hurt you at all if you don’t check Facebook or Twitter regularly. Once you get out of the habit of regularly checking them, you will not only save time (and thus money), but also find it easier to ditch Social Media completely. Try it.
R. Travels. Book economy flights. Do not fall into “upgrade” traps to travel business. Check carefully for Hotels with offers or discounts. Prefer AirBNB whenever more convenient (usually – but not always – they are). Prefer public transports (whenever available) compared to renting a car. Do not buy stupid plastic souvenirs to bring home: nobody wants to keep on their desk a plastic gondola made in China.
S.Buy a good health insurance. Many health insurance policies provided by employers are really poor with a coverage which is pathetic at best. Check yours: if you think you are not covered enough, buy a (better) health insurance on your own.
T. Take care of your teeth, every day. This point is self-explanatory.