I’ve mentioned it before and you’ll read me mention it again, when I first graduated and landed the job where I’d begin my career, I had taken a major pay cut. It wasn’t ideal. It was especially hard to imagine because most college students don’t make much money and automatically assume a college degree will upgrade their entire lifestyle. I was wrong. A lot of entry level corporate positions are much less than what we bargain for, but I knew my career had to start somewhere and a sacrifice was necessary in order to get where I needed to go. I had to make some serious financial adjustments in order to get comfortable, but I survived that year being fabulously frugal. Here are the simplest things I did to cut corners while still being able to save –
Quit buying coffee
This is one thing I did that easily saved me $100 a month. $20+ a week on coffee was an unnecessary expense. I started brewing my own coffee at home or drinking what we had at the office. Now I can honestly say I enjoy the cups I make more than anything I order from Starbucks and I think twice before paying $5 for a cup.
Give up your gym membership
It’s a luxury and realistically, you don’t need a gym to get or stay fit. Find a trail you can run, save for a bike, climb the stairs in your building. There are so many Instagram and YouTube accounts that provide you with at-home full body workouts that there’s no excuse these days.
Get rid of your cable
It’s 2016 – with wifi you can find whatever it is you want to watch on your laptop or iPad. I don’t watch much TV to begin with, we’re much more productive without it. Devices like Amazon Firesticks and AppleTV are becoming more and more popular, providing you with easy access to TV shows and movies. AppleTV is a one-time fee and doesn’t require a subscription, but allows you to mirror whatever you’re watching on your phone or laptop.
Cooking isn’t always cheaper
My grandma would swear that eating out makes you go broke. I disagree. Everyone always argues that cooking at home is much more cost effective than eating out, but unless you’re cooking for a family that’s not necessarily true. I’d likely spend around $30 to make a meal that would provide me with leftovers for several days, but I don’t want to eat pot roast four days straight. Instead, I grocery shop based on essentials + what meals I plan to cook that week. Water, fruit a few snacks, and whatever ingredients I need to made quick simple meals throughout the week. Some days an $8 salad will beat me cooking a pricier meal that I won’t finish.
Party at home
Clubs get expensive and bar tabs get easier to run up with each drink you finish. Sometimes sitting things out will save you a lot of money. Invite your friends over for pizza and beers or french toast and mimosas. It allows you to split costs and still kick it.
Avoid corner stores
Unless you need a Hallmark card, avoid buying household items and groceries and places like CVS, Walgreen’s and corner stores. I know they’re convenient, but you pay for that. Get these items at stores that generally offer reward points and savings.
Live below your means
In every aspect. The apartment you live in, the car you drive, the luxury fashion items you want to purchase. Doing this will allow you to live comfortably at any financial level. I remember working as a receptionist as a teenager and having to save for a couple of paychecks to afford a $250 Michael Kors watch. Now, I can spend that without thinking twice (which doesn’t mean I don’t think twice) but, back then I couldn’t comfortably afford it. Discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and even Nordstrom Rack or Saks OFF 5th will help you find what you want for a fraction of it’s retail price. Don’t buy things that are going to have you missing meals for the next three pay periods just to say you have it.
Here’s a loose breakdown of the percentages that work for me –
Personal care (clothing, grooming, etc.): 5-10%
Transportation or car note: 7-10%
Loans (does not include car/home): 10%
These are simple to implement. What costs do you cut in order to save?