By: Kristen Garafano
You’ve landed your first real job with your first real (measily) paycheck. Congrats! Finally, you no longer have to rely on the leftover graduation money in your account or ask your parents for a favor every now and then. Making your own money feels great—so great, in fact, that you may find yourself spending all your hard-earned cash as soon as it hits your bank account. Finding a way to be both a spender and a saver is a key part of adulting. Make the most of your newfound cashflow:
Ask yourself if you really need it
Sometimes I think that working in the middle of nowhere would be better for my bank account. Having some of your favorite stores nearby is both a blessing and a curse. When I interned in the city, occasionally I’d end up with time to spare in the morning before I had to be at my desk. Naturally, I’d then stop in one of the many stores I’d pass on my walk to the office to kill some time. But sometimes, before I knew it, I’d be swiping my debit card after the cashier finished ringing up two bottles of nail polish and a face mask that I clearly did not need. Those little shopping trips added up, but I’ve learned to limit myself. I only go to those stores once a week on my lunch break, and I’ll only buy something if I really need it. I’ll also try to spend as little money as possible by walking in with a number in my head that I absolutely cannot exceed. More often than not, though, I’m walking out empty-handed.
Watch out for a lot of small charges
Many of us need a caffeine jolt to start our day, but there’s no reason to spend $5 on a latte several days a week. Break the Starbucks habit, and bring your own brew from home. Or, even better: if your office has a coffee machine, use that. Maybe the name brand coffee does actually taste better, but try adding up how much you spend on it in just one month. Is it still worth it?
Be honest about your workout routine
Exercise is important, but gym memberships and boutique fitness classes can be costly. If you have the space, why not work out at home? Instead of running on a treadmill, go for a jog around your neighborhood. Roll out your yoga mat and follow your own routine. There are hundreds of free, guided yoga videos on YouTube with celebrity instructors, so you’ll get the same great workout for free! If the gym really is your sanctuary, do your research before purchasing a membership. Some gyms offer cheap rates for locations without classes– especially in the new year. Snag one of those deals in January!
Bring your own lunch
Even if your workplace has dozens of delicious restaurants within a half-mile radius, resist the temptation of buying your meal everyday. Quit using the same excuses, like you don’t have enough time to prepare your meal, or you don’t know what to make, or you’re low on groceries (all things I’ve said before). I limit myself to going out for lunch once a week now and make my own food the rest of the days. Meal prep on Sunday night to avoid rushing in the morning.
Get to know your spending habits
Keeping track of your monthly expenses can be daunting (even scary), but it’s important to know where you overspend and where you save. Take a look at your bank account and see how much you spend on a monthly basis on food/drinks, clothing, entertainment, and the necessities (like groceries, gas, and rent). Lately, I’ve been probably spending way more than I should be on clothes and shoes—so I’m taking less trips to the mall and staying away from online retailers. Remember, you worked hard for this money, so make sure you’re getting what you want out of it.
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