I know what you’re thinking, is it actually possible to save money when you’re in your twenties? The answer, my friends, is yes (or I assume will be yes, currently TBD). I’m the first person to admit that I’m terrible with money. While I’ve always paid my bills on time I’ve never been really good at saving money. And who doesn’t want to save money? To make things worse, in college (and for a while after graduation) I self-medicated with retail therapy when my depression and/or anxiety started getting out of control and rang up quite a bit of credit card debt. Uh oh. Add a move to a state where the sales tax is an entire 2% more than what I’m used to and where everything in general just costs more (like my rent) and you’ve got the perfect recipe for full on anxiety mode.
Remember awhile back when I wrote that post about how I wasn’t going to let my anxiety control my life anymore? Well making an effort to save money is going to be part of that process. Let’s put aside the debt situation for a while because we all know that student loans and credit card debt won’t go away overnight. I’m working to chip away at them (starting with the credit cards) and making decent progress but there’s still a ways to go.
So what steps can you take to save money while you’re stuck in your twenties? The twenties are known for being a transitional period and they can be hard, I mean really hard on your wallet. You’re either still in college or just graduated, working a job you probably hate (unless you’re lucky) and just barely getting by. I was there for the past year, it seemed impossible to save money! So here’s a few tips I’ve tried or am going to try in order to make life a little easier on our wallets.
Put Down the Starbucks
I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but paying roughly $5 a day for a venti caramel macchiato just isn’t in my budget right now. That’s $25 a week if you work five days a week and swing by Starbucks every morning on your way. That’s $100 dollars a month on just coffee (really, yummy, delicious coffee). Think about what else you could do with $100 dollars. You could have a mini shopping spree, stick it in savings, or spend it on a date night for you and your S/O. The possibilities really are endless! I don’t drink Starbucks nearly as much as I did when I was an undergraduate, but that’s partially because I live in New York, the land of the Dunkin’s. Ew. I know it’s not easy to give up your morning Venti-double shot espresso-extra hot- vanilla latte-no whip but at least try to save yourself a few bucks a week. If you’re feeling really adventurous, do what I’m doing. Challenge yourself to not eat out during the work week for 30 entire days. I know with a boyfriend who loves pizza that it’s unrealistic for me to say I won’t eat out on the weekends, but I can stop eating out every day for lunch. You can follow my challenge here.
See You Later Impulse Shopping
Impulse shopping is my weakness. Well, it used to be. I’ve gotten much better at it since moving to New York. One, I live at least 20 minutes away from decent shopping. Two, I have so much stuff I need to get rid of before I buy new clothes. Loosing 20 lbs. has left me with a lot of useless clothing. But think about it, do you really need to go to the mall after class or work and drop $200? No, the answer is always no. Make shopping about building a wardrobe. All of that money you’re saving by not buy Starbucks and/or lunch every day? Put it into a “Shopping Spree Fund” (PS I love this Pretty Dress Fund jar). Pick a date and when you reach your savings goal, go shopping! Buy only purchase quality pieces that will last a long time and enhance your current wardrobe. And whatever you do, do not touch the credit cards!
Find Motivation to Save
Other Gen Y-ers will say things like “act like you’re poor.” While this can be great advice, I don’t think this mentality works for everyone. It definitely never did for me. What does motivate me to want to save money, however, is my wonderful boyfriend. JP is great at saving money (I still don’t get it and sometimes it frustrates me to no end) so that makes me want to get better at it too. I want to be able to go on trips to Alaska and do fun things with him that create long lasting memories. It’s become a lot less about the material possessions and that’s what makes it easier for me to save money (and a promotion with a bigger salary doesn’t hurt either). This motivation can come from anything. I’m totally not judging you if your savings goal is a handbag. Just get into the habit of saving!
Another interesting aspect of savings, just as an aside, is retirement. I know, who thinks about retirement in their twenties?! I know I didn’t (and still don’t really). But when I started my job I was forced to start putting money towards retirement. It’s pretty cool to already have a little over $2000 in there already. It may not seem like much in the broad span of things but right now, that’s a month of rent and utilities for two. I like the idea of that, even if it does mean I miss a couple extra bucks from my paycheck.
What can I say, I may not be perfect, but I’m working on it! What are your go to habits when you’re trying to save money?
Before You Go
Could you do me a favor?