Working Girl How To: Saving, Even When You're Just Starting Out
I'll admit it – I don't particularly enjoy talking about money. Maybe it's because I find 401Ks rather dull, and I'd much rather spend my time discussing what I'm most passionate about. However, I've recently learned that it's imperative to begin saving while you're young to truly have ownership over your finances.
Now, it's time to be completely frank: I'm making the typical salary of a fresh-out-of-college grad (hint: not much!), I'm paying off student loans, I live by myself in the middle of Atlanta (hello, instantly higher rent), and I'm paying my monthly utility bills. And I'm still able to stow away 20 percent of my take-home income while enjoying financial freedom.
Several of my friends are in disbelief, and honestly, I am too – I didn't think it could be a reality for me. However, with a little persistence, education and practice, you can do it too. Here are a few of my top tips to get you started:
Set a savings plan and stick to it - When you start bringing in income, no matter how small, it's imperative that you set up a savings plan that you can stick to. Whether it's a mandatory 5, 10 or 15 percent that you pledge to save each month, set that money aside and don't touch it. If your company pays you via direct deposit, you may even have the option of having a set percentage of your paycheck automatically transferred to your savings account. If this is an option available to you I highly recommend it!
Make a habit out of shopping on sale - I can't remember the last time I bought an item of clothing that wasn't on sale (or over $10, but that's an entirely different story). From a young age I was simply taught to make a beeline for the clearance rack, and if I couldn't find what I was looking for there, then I could peruse the other non-sale items. It's a habit that I'm glad stuck. By saving money shopping the sale racks for clothing, home furnishings and gifts for friends, I have more money on hand for the essentials, like groceries, gas and my utilities.
Make Groupon your best friend - Living in Atlanta, I never realized how expensive haircuts, weekend activities and meals out can be compared to suburb prices. Thanks to deal sites like Groupon, I've been able to nab $250 salon services for $45, and I can still keep up my social life, but on a manageable budget.
Set aside one "me" purchase per month - To keep my finances in check without feeling like I'm depriving myself, after all of my essentials are handled like bills, rent and groceries, I allow myself one "me" purchase per month, within reason. May's purchase was a plane ticket to see my boyfriend, and I'm planning on purchasing a pair of Warby Parker glasses for June. By being able to look forward to one big purchase a month, I can reward myself for a job well done in both saving and in the workplace.
What are some of your best tips for sticking to a budget? I'd love to hear your tips in a comment below!