Last year I moved into my first apartment that I paid for 100% on my own- no parents or boyfriends to help with rent- and as any young person can attest it was hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love living on my own. I didn’t think I would at first, but now I relish in having complete independence and my own space to retreat to. 2015 was a year that I was thrown into adulthood very abruptly with all of my big life changes happening at once. Not only did I get my first apartment, but my first full-time job after graduate school. Suddenly I had to learn about key terms such as 401Ks, insurance deductibles, tax credits, and interest rates. Money became very important in my life and despite the whirlwind, I managed to thrive in my first year of true adulthood. How did I do it? One word: saving.
There are no quick-fix solutions to earning more money- you just have to pay your dues, work your way up the pay scale, and be conservative with your spending. It is a long process and you have to be patient. Patience with regards to my finances has been the best thing I have learned over the years and one thing I think many people forget to have. While there are no easy ways to suddenly becoming a millionaire (apart from winning the lottery or marrying very well), there are simple things that every young person can do to become more budget-savvy and keep more money in the bank.
1. Check your bank statement once a week (or more).
You can check your checking/savings accounts from nearly anywhere these days. I use both my bank and credit cards’ iPhone apps as well as checking my statements online. It only takes a few minutes and ensures that no surprises will occur later on when you have to pay your bill. If you check it weekly you will know where you stand at all times. When you make keeping tabs on your money a habit you will be less likely to splurge on things you can’t afford because you will know what you can afford.
2. Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
I save so much money by sticking to the perimeters of grocery stores and avoiding the aisles full of sugary prepackaged snacks. Both your wallet and your body will thank you for making this simple change to your buying habits.
3. Weigh the Pros and Cons
How many times have you and I made impulse buys that we later regret? Too many. While I’m not saying never buy something quickly, it can save you money in the long run if you weigh the pros and cons of important purchases. You may find that the gorgeous leopard print coat you found online is not actually practical for the climate you live in. Or you may realize that investing in new tires for your car makes more sense for your budget than going out to the club every weekend. Grownup purchases are not always fun but if you keep in mind the benefits of such purchases to your overall happiness, they can outweigh the short-term impact of your impulse buys.
4. Prioritize Purchases
This one coincides with number three on my list. Simply put, if you prioritize what is important for you to spend your money on you will get more satisfaction out of what you buy. If you love to travel, try cutting back on eating out and putting that money into a savings account for your next trip. Savings accounts are something that every person should have and contribute to religiously. I put a specific amount from each paycheck right into my savings as soon as I get paid and I never touch it for other things. Trust me, you will be glad you cut back each month when you are on that trip of a lifetime or buying your first home. Prioritization is where it’s at, girl!
5. Get Coupon Savvy
Ok, so I love coupons but I am not advocating to go all “Extreme Couponing” on your life. One of the best ways to save money is by simply shopping around and comparing deals. I buy pretty much everything online because of the plethora of online coupons. If there is something you have been lusting over, in particular a larger purchase, shop around and see if you can find any coupon codes. Retail Me Not is an amazing discount code website if you haven’t already been using it. Another trick is if, like I did last month, you are looking into making a large electronic or appliance purchase, check into different retailers’ financing options. They may not be able to offer you a discount but you may be able to get 12-month no interest financing with the use of their store credit card. You save so much money by taking advantage of this, it’s easier on your checking account, and you build your credit. Win-win.
Being an adult can be hard but with a little help, we can all get there together. 🙂 If you have any good budgeting tips/tricks that I didn’t mention, please leave me a comment below. Or if you use any of these over the next few months and find results, I’d love to hear what you think! Happy budgeting everyone!