5 Tips to Keep More of the Money You Make

Selvin Ortiz / January 24, 2019

By my rough estimation, my wife and I have made almost a million dollars since we began earning. However, from those earnings, we don’t have anything going into retirement, investments, or savings.

As we thought more about that, we realized that we had to do something about it.

Our daily reading and listening routine became less focused on making money and more focused on managing our money wisely to keep more of what we earn.

In the past few months, we’ve read hundreds of articles, listened to hours of podcast episodes, and put together a one-year, five-year, and ten-year plan.

Here is what’s helped us and we hope that it’ll help you.

1. Track your spending

This tip is the most obvious but often overlooked.

We became obsessed with tracking where our money was going. We started with the usual suspects — rent, car, utilities, and groceries.

It wasn’t initially apparent to us how much money we spent eating out, on recurring subscriptions, and other conveniences.

I seriously began laughing when I finished adding up all the money we had spent on coffee. Starbucks, Caribou, and Dun Brothers, over the last 12 months, added up to $511. 😱

Look at your bank statements for the last 6 or 12 months and find non-essentials you can cut out.

2. Fight lifestyle inflation

The wise people at MoneyWise Radio always say:

Your level of spending always rises to your level of earning, unless you object.

That’s true!

We looked back and realized that every time we’ve received a raise or somehow ended up with more money in our pocket, it wouldn’t be long till we upgraded our lifestyle in some way.

If it’s not going towards your health and wealth, resist the upgrades.

3. Learn to manage money wisely

Experts say that if you lean to manage ten dollars effectively, you’ll have a better chance of handling large sums of money wisely. You don’t need piles of cash to practice sound money management principles.

Here are some of the things we’re doing to manage our money better and help our money work for us.

  • Attack debt aggressively
  • Start putting money towards an emergency fund
  • Put away 10%-20% into an online savings account
  • Live modestly and below our means
  • Look for simple ways to invest

I’ll expand on these topics in future articles.

4. Build better habits

Living below your means, setting a strict budget, and learning to manage your money requires effort, hard work, and consistency. You need to be on your game and build better habits to make it sustainable over the long haul.

The last six months have been life-changing for me, primarily due to crucial habit changes:

  1. Wake up between 4 – 5 am and go to bed before 10 pm
  2. Avoid eating out, except for the occasional Chipotle (once a month)
  3. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  4. Cut down on coffee consumption
  5. Work standing for half my workday
  6. Teach my kids how to think about money

I used to be super busy, stressed out, cranky, overweight (wip), dragging myself out of bed at 9 am, always thinking about what junk food I could eat for lunch/​dinner.

My lifestyle had to change. I couldn’t just try to eat healthier; I had to become a healthy eater. I couldn’t just try to save money; I had to become a better money manager.

A critical change in mindset that has helped me build better habits is to enjoy the process and not focus only on the results. Make small, atomic changes that lead to more significant lifestyle improvements.

5. Make it fun

Going from a comfy lifestyle to one that prioritizes your future can be hard. You have to find good things that reward you now while staying the course for long-term success.

My wife and I are always competing to see who can spend the least on non-essentials and get rid of more things we don’t need.

Simple Examples

Instead of buying new tech gadgets, I started to find ways to downsize my office.

My three year old loves playing our version of scavenger hunt. A game where I hide coins and give him clues till he finds them. The reward is that he gets to put it in his jar to save for a new toy for his birthday.

We got rid of Hulu, YouTube TV, and are about to get rid of Netflix. Since then, my wife and I began reading more and listening to more podcasts that help us stay on track.

Start Now

What worked for me may not work for you, but if you get started now and focus on keeping more of the money you earn, you’ll force yourself to get creative and find your path to a healthier, wealthier you.

You can’t afford to pass on that.