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Ah, January. The beginning of a new year, and end of a busy season. Oftentimes this is a hard time of year for bartenders but it doesn’t have to be for you!
Now is the best time to prepare yourself mentally and financially for what’s to come to ensure you aren’t struggling to make ends meet in the slow period between New Years and St. Patrick’s Day.
1. Map Out Your Fixed Expenses
I know, I know. This one seems so obvious, right? But hear me out — fixed expenses aren’t always “fixed”. Think about how your electricity bill fluctuates depending on the season or how your food bill goes up or down depending on where you buy your groceries, how many times you eat out, and who’s visiting you.
Use a free financial app such as Mint.com or DollarBird that helps you record and keep track of all of your fixed expenses for the next several months. Leave a bit of wiggle room for items that change monthly or seasonally.
Also, start planning for next year today because you never want to be in a position where you’re deciding if you have enough money to eat, get to work or pay your bills on time.
2. Follow Your Money
For the next week (starting today) monitor your money — it may feel like a bit of a pain, but it’s just a week and will really help you gain clarity on where your money is going! Leverage a free app to keep track of everything you spend money on and how much. Do this without thought or judgment – meaning stay within your normal spending habits and don’t try to cut back. Then after a week, review where you’re spending money, how often and how much.
For example, are you ordering delivery for dinner three times a week rather than buying groceries and therefore spending way more than you could be on food? Are you buying coffee at Starbucks rather than making it at home every day even though you have coffee and a maker?
First, figure out where you’re spending money. Then figure out where you can cut back on spending within sacrificing the things you love or the quality of your life. By cutting back, even in small ways, the money you’re saving will add up big time!
3. Save Your Ones
Ah, beer and liquor-soaked ones — they’re usually the first piece of currency to be exchanged for larger bills at the end of the night. But, the next time you close out, resist the urge to purge all of your singles. Instead, keep half (or more) of them for savings!
Here’s why: it’s a lot easier to get into the mental habit of setting aside and saving one dollar bills than it is to save 20’s, 50’s and 100’s. That’s because your brain doesn’t value ones the same way it values bigger bills — and for good reason, they’re almost worthless (literally!)
Luckily for you, this is an opportunity to trick your brain into saving all of those singles, which add up quickly! Place a jar in your room labeled “singles” or deposit them into your savings account every so often, and after a couple weeks those ones won’t seem so insignificant anymore!
4. Spend Like You Aren’t Going to Have an Income Tomorrow
This suggestion might sound morbid, but it works! During slow times, money is often inconsistent so budget beforehand like you won’t have any money coming in tomorrow. This will force you to watch every cent to spend, and not splurge on something you’ll later regret/could get you caught in a tough spot.
This is especially helpful if you tend to be generous after work and buy your coworkers drinks, frequently dine out or often splurge on material items after lucrative shifts.
The next time you have the urge to spend money, ask yourself:
“If today was my last shift, and I have no idea when I’d work next, would I still buy (insert thing)?”
If the answer is no, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that!
5. Pick Up A Few Extra Shifts Per Month And Save 100% of Your Earnings
One of the quickest and easiest ways to save money and prepare for a slow winter season is by picking up a few extra shifts per month and saving 100 percent of the money you earn during those shifts.
Here’s why: doing this doesn’t cut into your normal income, so it’s money you won’t miss and wouldn’t have had otherwise.
If your bar doesn’t have any extra shifts available consider guest bartending a few times a month or picking up a very part-time job at another place. *Pro-tip: tons of bars and restaurants hire seasonal work during the holidays, so you should have no issue finding extra work during this time of year!
6. Deposit your Cash Immediately After your Shift
You know that feeling when you’re closing out and counting all of your tips? Ah, it feels GOOD — especially after a long and busy shift.
But, having a pocket or purse full of cash can also lead to an urge to splurge on unnecessary items. So rather than walking around with a wad of tips, head to the bank immediately after work and deposit your earnings into your account. If it’s late, use the bank ATM to make the deposit, or wait until the morning.
By doing this, your tips won’t just feel like “free” money you’re tempted to spend quickly and without thought — especially since you’ll have full visibility over all of the transactions you make on your account!
By using these 6 tips, not only will you be prepared for a slow winter season, you might even be able to set aside enough cash to take a nice vacation and rejuvenate your mind and body for the new year! Now’s the best time to save money, so get started right away – when January comes you’ll be so glad you did!
About the Author: Antasha Durbin
Antasha is seasoned bartender with more than seven years of bartending and hospitality experience. She is also a spiritual writer at cajspirituality.com, where she writes free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living. You can follow her on Twitter @cajspirituality for daily inspiration.