The cycle we go through as we grow up is funny. When we’re young, we want to be older, but now as an adult, we want to be a kid again. Being an adult means taking on a lot of responsibilities, including handling our own money. Whatever we make on our own, we want to spend. However being new to the workforce and straight out of college, some of us can’t afford to do the things we would like to do right away, like taking lavish vacations or shopping every weekend.
The New York Times recently released an article regarding how the ‘adult life’ is hard on Millennials. Just as a quick overview: Rents are rising, college tuition is rising, debt is rising, but wages have been falling.
Whether you are getting paid minimum wage, $30,000 or $65,000 (congrats to you if you came out of college making that salary), here are a few ways to make sure you are smart with spending your next pay check:
- CREATE A BUDGET. It’s in all caps and bolded for a reason. You may not like it or think it’s unnecessary, but it will help you in the long run. If you bank online, many banks have features that let you see where you are spending your money and allow you to create your own personal budget. Map your money!
- Roughly estimate your bills per month. We all hate bills, but they have to be paid or our credit is at risk. Student loans, cable/internet, cell phone, gas, electric bills all should be accounted for and you should estimate, based on previous months’ usage, how much you will spend combined. Leave a $50 cushion in your estimate just in case! If your bills are due on scattered days throughout the month, pick a day or 2 days where you combine bills and pay them off all at once, that way you don’t miss a payment or forget when it is due. If some of your bills have auto-pay options do it!
- Grocery shop/learn to cook. Eating out can become expensive quick. Buy deli meat and learn to shop for things on sale. Some grocery store websites allow you to create your own shopping list and match items that are on sale that week. It helps a lot and will allow you to avoid buying too much.
- Put some of your paycheck into savings or a 401(k). Some of us have mentalities that are spend spend spend. However, you’d be amazed as to how much you can save if you put just $100 of your paycheck towards a savings account and a little less for an investment account when you enter the working world. Take advantage of a 401(k) plan if your company offers it! If there is an emergency, you can dip into your savings and have a little to spend. Watch it grow and you’ll thank yourself later.
- Cut back on going out. Only exception is if you are going directly to dollar beer places where you spend $7 to get drunk. But seriously, cutting out a midweek drink or cocktail really can help you out. Also, side note, quitting smoking will DEFINITELY help out your wallet (and general health).
- Plan trips in advance. As we have mentioned here on 20something recently, it is possible to go places that are less than $700! Give yourself ample time to plan, set aside the money and take trips in a reasonable way.
Remember, hard work does pay off. Even if it’s a weekend trip to a local destination for now, following these steps and taking the initiative to spend and save wisely can guarantee that you’ll have a little bit of extra money for your own self enjoyment.