If you’ve read my 101 in 1001 days list, you may have seen that one of my goals is to have 1/4th of my student loans paid off (though I plan on it being more than that as I’m someone who tries to put as much extra towards my loans every month). I was not lucky enough to have scholarships cover all my college education (though my first two years were free!) However, I’ve always seen my college experience as being worth every penny-it transformed me and gave me memories and experiences that made my life better (as well as myself). Now that I’m a teacher and I’ve been out for two years (as of two weeks ago!) I’ve long begun the process of paying back what I owe for my education-like the majority of college graduates.
Luckily, I’m someone was has a natural instinct to be good with money. I remember having several hundred dollars in savings from an early age because I watched what I spent money on. This translated to adulthood and I often have friends ask for money advice. How many people do you know pay $30 for electric? Or $100 on groceries every month (granted it’s just me ), but I digress. This will be a multi-part series tackling a 20-somethings tips on money. Let’s start with…Spending!
Spending money is as much an unavoidable part of life as breathing or eating. However, there are certainly wise and unwise, personal and unavoidable spending mechanisms at your disposale. Having lived as someone on a budget for the last 6 years, I’ve gained a bit of insight having to pay all my own utilties, colleges, expenses etc, especially since I started working at the age of 15, sometimes having 2-3 jobs at a time.
1-Be aware of earnings and bills!
Be aware of how much you make a month after taxes and your bills. After bills, think of the essential things like your utilities, food and gas. What do you have left? This is a pretty common sense one, but its easy to have a month or two where you don’t take things into account and somehow end up with extra clothes and decor.
2) How much are you willing to spend?
Think of something you either buy that’s not a necessity in a food or water sense. Perhaps its a new movie or new clothes. Do you try to find the best deal or just pay whatever to get it? Before you shop, shop around, know what you’re willing to pay for something, if its on sale or there’s a coupon for it. Being a girl who loves clothes, I have my own personal set limits when I shop for clothes. I stick to certain price ranges on things (i.e. no more than $25 on a pair of jeans/pants). Speaking of sales….
3) Shop bargains!
Maybe not go the extreme couponer route (do any of them actually get around to using everything they get?) However, its better to shop sales and save more money. I know I only buy things on sale, or wait until they go on sale. For example, there is an organic bean company I love, but normally the cans are $1.40 each. But, every few months, they go on sale for 10/$10. I stock up then and they last me. Plus, I saved a couple bucks. I do the same with clothes and random items I need as well. Of course, if you’re shopping baragins, don’t forget your;
This tip will probably be merged into its own blog at some point. Couponing, even if you only do it casually, can merit great rewards. I subscribe to a few coupon websites that offer coupons on things I’ll actually need. I rarely do newspaper advertisements, but I recieve a lot of coupons through email and snail mail. Some grocery stores also offer coupons, especially Kroger. I have a lot of great things to say about Kroger-especially with their digital coupons. They track what you buy and base coupons off it. I’ve gotten SEVERAL coupons for free things such as organic carrots and frozen vegetables.
*Submit your email to companies! They’ll often send coupons
A few great websites to check out are;
****If nothing else, check the website of a store you’re going to!*****
5) Discount Cards
Pretty much every place you shop has one of these, be it in person or an app on your smartphone. Discount cards fall into two main types; percentage off and buying perks. With percentage off, you get a certain percent off your purchase. With buying perks, you get a reward for buying so many of something or spending a certain amount of money. Be wary of percent offs that have a cost to join. Some are worth it if you shop there a lot and it’ll save you money in the long run. Others just aren’t worth it. Be aware of what places offer. If you’re a teacher or work in certain industries, you can get special discount cards (i.e. 15% off at Joann Fabrics for being a teacher!)
6) Set personal rules
This is true if you’re sticking to a budget. I’ve set a couple personal rules for myself, for example;
- Only using amazon giftcards I’ve earned online to buy amazon things
- Waiting to buy something after I’ve thought about it
- Knowing what I’m willing to pay for something
- Don’t spend more than $25 on a pair of jeans
Your rules may look completely different and I’m just using a few of mine as an example. Think and reflect on your spending habits after reviewing your budget.
7) Plan ahead…both expected and Unexpected
Think about things you’ll have to pay for in the future. Maybe you have a co-pay with your next dental exam or a friends birthday coming up. I try and plan months in advance for Christmas and birthdays because 90% of my friends and family have a birthday between August-December. It takes planning because otherwise my bank account is taking a hit when I could’ve figured out things in advance. Also plan on spendings for trips and emergency funds. Things happen.
8) Lastly, live within your means, but live!
Just because you have a good idea of spendings and budget well doesn’t mean you can’t live either. Just think about what money you’re spending when you go out to eat. I ALWAYS have at least an extra meal left when I eat out so I figure things that will last me a while are better than an $8 entree I’ll eat and not have leftovers. Or if I’m going to see a movie with friends, plan for it. Learn to live within your means and you’ll be able to live to the more.
What spending tips would you give someone?