Being in your early 20s is an extremely expensive time. You’re attempting to juggle paying rent, going out with friends, and working towards finally getting off that family plan for your cellphone so your parents can stop asking you who you’re texting at 3 a.m.
Coupled with the fact that in your early 20s you tend to be extremely overworked and underpaid, it can feel like saving anything and not living paycheck to paycheck is impossible. However, as impossible as it may seem to get your finances in order, I promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
If most of your money is going towards brunch, shirts at Forever 21, and shitty 6-packs of beer, it’s probably time to reevaluate your financial situation. I’ve compiled five very easy tips to follow in order to immediately start saving if you’re like me and slowly realizing that you’re reaching your mid-twenties and only have a bunch of random things to show for it.
1. Make a budget you can actually stick to.
I’ve been asking a fair few friends recently if they all have budgets (I hadn’t and felt like an idiot for it) and pretty much unanimously everyone was like “yup.” It can be difficult to sit down and face the true, harsh reality of your financial situation, but I can promise you hiding from the truth will get you no where. Recently I sat down for about an hour and came up with a budget with a fair amount of flexibility. I promised myself that every paycheck I would revisit the budget and make adjustments when necessary. This way I am working towards coming up with an iron-clad budget that will allow me to finally afford that trip to Europe I want to take without making me pull out my hair with frustration.
2. Follow the $25 dollars a week rule – in cash.
I’ve begun carrying cash with me everywhere, which is something I never had done previously in my entire life. I always figured- if I have a debit card why would I ever need to take out cash!? Well, my friends, when you carry cash you have a physical reminder of how much money you have in your hands, and how much you’re actually able to spend. When you don’t carry cash, your little purchases begin to add up but you’re not really thinking about them. That cheap cup of coffee, that chapstick at the grocery store. You don’t actually mentally budget them in because they’re so small but a day of small purchases can equal a large chunk being taken out of your bank account. Also, by carrying around $25 per week you’re able to truly ask yourself “do I need to eat out for lunch? Or should I save this for when I really need gas or when I really want to see that movie with friends.”
3. Limit how much you go out to eat or order delivery.
Eating out is the bane of my existence and also my guiltiest pleasure. If I could, I would eat out for every meal of the week. Not only do I hate cooking but the convenience of eating out is just unparalleled. Having said that, it is also expensive as hell and if I ate out for every meal I would never be able to afford the laptop I’m writing this article on. So, for now, I try to cook in at least 5-6 times a week. Which usually means a lot of pasta. However, if you really take into consideration the fact that a meal out will average you around $30 bucks (if you live in LA like me, city life is so fun!!!) the price-tag that comes with convenience is difficult to bear.
4. Drink only on the weekends.
If you’re like me and you enjoy your glass of wine at the end of the day, keep in mind that your alcohol budget is taking a major toll on your spending. Even if it is a $3 dollar bottle of Trader Joe’s wine here and there, the reality is that is money you could be saving throughout the week. I like to try and adhere to the “only drinking on the weekends” rule because it frees up 5 days of the week for me to not spend money on a product that is going to make the next day at work rough as hell.
5. Immediately start a savings account.
Starting is always the scariest part, but I believe in your ability to save even more than my own. I had previously mentioned that beginning yourself on a budget is tough, but beginning to save may actually be tougher. No one is asking you to put in hundreds of dollars into your savings account immediately; instead start small by putting $5 dollars into your savings account every Friday (this can even be the money you saved on Trader Joe’s wine!) Next thing you know, you have $20 dollars in your savings account by the end of the month. Sure, you may not be Daddy Warbucks yet, but you’re on your way, and that is half the battle.