How to Save Money When You’re Young and Broke

I’ve never been good with saving money. This is most likely because I have a “money comes and goes” attitude in order to justify my spending habits.

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This mentality hasn’t gotten me very far, seeing as how I currently live from paycheck to paycheck and have no adequate savings for emergencies.

Today, I had the opportunity to talk to a financial advisor and receive free advice on how to plan for the future. The plan I created was unique to my spending habits and what financial goals I had for myself (the main one being to save money). Overall, it was extremely helpful so I thought I would share a few of the tips I received.  The very first thing my advisor told me to do was:

Create a budget 

We made a list of all my bills and expenses and were able to determine how much money I could put away each paycheck to create a savings. When we created my budget, we agreed to treat my savings as if it were a bill. That way, having an exact amount I was required to put aside each paycheck would get me into the habit of putting money away for the future.

Create a separate savings account 

After creating a budget and a designated amount to save each month, he suggested I create a separate savings account. Both my checking and savings accounts are connected, so when I run out of one, the other is right there to back it up. This was one of the major reasons I was having trouble saving. My advisor suggested getting a separate savings account so that I don’t immediately turn to it unless it’s an absolute emergency.

Find ways to increase your income 

I’m working part-time right now, which makes it difficult to budget and save. If I found a way to increase my income (by applying for full-time work or picking up side jobs), I could live under the same budget and lifestyle while saving more money.

Use your credit more and pay it down quickly 

Prior to taking out student loans and credit cards, I never took the time to understand how credit and debt actually worked. Using your credit and paying off the balances in a timely manner brings your credit score up, while keeping large balances and paying them off slowly can hurt you. So, be sure to swipe wisely and pay off as much as you can as soon as you’re able to.

Although these tips helped me establish a plan to get to where I want to financially, I’d be lying if I said it won’t be hard to change my money habits. It’s going to take a lot of dedication, discipline and saying no to brunch and dinner every now and then. But, Like all things that are difficult, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind, which is ultimately developing financial stability for the future.

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How to Stop Procrastinating and Develop Your Side Hustle

I’ve always wished I could be my own boss. I love the idea of working on your own time, not reporting to anyone and developing something you’re passionate about. The only problem with being your own boss is that there’s no room to procrastinate. I, as an avid procrastinator, loved daydreaming about achieving this vision, while putting off the work by scrolling through social media and taking periodic naps in between. Although I spent a lot of time daydreaming about becoming my own boss someday, I could never seem to push myself to do the work to get there.

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As all procrastinators soon realize, you can’t always put everything off. I woke up one day and had to face the fact that I haven’t done much work to change the position I was in. I began researching what it would take to turn my passion for writing, and creating content, into an actual business, and found that turning your side hustle into your career requires constant work behind the scenes. If I really wanted to branch out and get serious about my passions, I should put in just as much work as I do at my day job fulfilling someone else’s dream. Here are 5 things I’ve found to be helpful when trying to stop procrastinating and turning your side hustle into a possible source of income.

Figure out what you’re good at 

The obvious first step to developing a side hustle is finding one, or at least one you’re good at. I figured out that I wanted to develop my writing through blogging by making a list of my skills and then narrowing them down to the ones I enjoyed doing the most. If you have a lot of hobbies or passions that you would like to make money from, figure out what you’re best at and most passionate about and look into ways to developing it further.

Study it 

One of the best ways to learn is from observing. In order to get better at your side hustle you need to study it. Research some of your favorite influencers in your niche and learn what worked best for them, and what didn’t, on their journey to success. Read books, watch documentaries or listen to podcasts about your point of interest. Do whatever it takes to find out as much information about your passion as possible.

Practice 

Practicing your side hustle will only make you better. You can be great at something, but never putting the work in to produce it will get you nowhere. If you enjoy writing and want to turn it into a business, create a blog or work on getting your work published on other sites. Make practicing your craft a part of your daily routine.

Build up a portfolio 

Once you’ve began practicing and putting in the work, develop a portfolio. A portfolio doesn’t have to be the typical black book that comes to mind with the term. It can be a website, or even a social media page with images of your past work. Having a great portfolio can make you stand out against other people in your niche. Find a creative way to showcase your talent and make people want to invest in what you have to offer.

Remain consistent 

This is the one thing I find myself struggling with the most, but consistency is key when accomplishing anything. Things may not take off when you want them too, but it’s important to keep in mind why you started. Nothing great was ever achieved overnight. It can take months and often years of hard work and dedication to begin seeing even a little success.

We’re Broke, But Don’t Have to Eat Like We Are

Our society is set up in the strangest way. Most of the time, if you want to lead a healthier lifestyle, it requires money to do so. Healthier foods cost more than the foods that are basically killing us. How does that make any sense? When I started college, I thought I would be stuck eating ramen noodles and scraping pennies to get my hands on anything I could eat. That was true to some extent. I still find myself scraping pennies together for food, but I’ve found ways to eat foods with actual sustenance. Today, I had a budget of $20 to go grocery shopping, and I thought there would be no way I could make this work, but I did, and here’s how.

Working with what I already had 

Before I went shopping today, I looked at what I already had in my kitchen. I saw I had some peanut butter, strawberry jelly, chicken (which was almost gone), tons of oatmeal… and that was about it. These foods were pretty useless separately, but I saw potential meals with each of them. I decided that I would make a list of things I could buy from the store to go with the foods I already had at home. My list simply consisted of bread, more chicken, and rice. With bread, I could make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and chicken and rice is always a simple, healthy, and filling meal to make for both lunch and dinner. I decided to skip buying breakfast foods, because I already had a ton of oatmeal and determined I didn’t need anything else. By taking an inventory of what I already had at home, I managed to save myself a little cash in a quick easy way.

Choosing the right place to shop 

My favorite grocery store of all time is Trader Joe’s. They have great healthy options at affordable prices. Sometimes their fruit can be a little on the pricey side so I usually buy my fruits and veggies elsewhere, but for all my other needs, you can catch me at Trader Joe’s. My shopping trip came to a total of 17.84 (I strayed a bit from my list and was charged a .10 cent bag fee) which was under my budget. I know Trader Joe’s is considered expensive for some, but I find items there that work well for me and are within my budget. Finding the right store with the best pricing that suits you is an important factor when grocery shopping on a budget.

Planning meals

Like I mentioned earlier, I had already known what I needed to buy which helped me plan what to shop for and also plan my meals out. I also bought extra items that I knew would be great long lasting meals, but also within my price range. Foods like spaghetti (which I ended up buying) are easy to make, affordable, and can last a while in the kitchen (especially if you’re cooking for one). Here is what I ended up buying today and the cost of each item:

Organic brown rice (which conveniently microwaves in 3 min)- 2.99

Turkey chili- 1.99

Organic whole wheat bread- 2.99

Spaghetti- .99

Tomato sauce- 1.79

Chicken (boneless and skinless) – 6.99

 

Young and Broke

Too often I’m sitting around with one of my twenty-something year old friends sulking in their apartment. We complain about how we are constantly broke and can’t afford to experience life beyond the walls of their one bedroom abode.

Today, one of my friends and I decided to change it up a bit, and instead, sulk about our financial woes at a restaurant. As we sat there discussing how difficult it is working full time, going to school, and trying to save all at once, it caused me to consider the reasons why I’m struggling financially. In my first post, I talked about building good financial habits so they carry on into our 30’s and beyond, but how do we start building these habits? Before figuring out how to build good habits, I had to first identify what I’m doing wrong. Here are 6 financial mistakes I realize I’ve been making as a twenty-something.

Not saving 

This has to be the biggest one. I know so many friends living paycheck to paycheck, and when a financial emergency comes they’re stuck. If I’m really admitting it, I’ve been this person too many times and it’s because I have a poor habit of not saving. Creating a savings account is extremely important. Not only does it get you in the habit of saving now, but when an unforeseen circumstance pops up you’re prepared and not scrambling to figure out a way to find money fast. No matter what the amount is, try to put something in your savings account so that you can at least build the habit of saving.

Not living within my means 

I know how much I make and how much I should be spending, but I still find myself going out with my friends to eat, going on shopping trips, and paying $12.50 to see a movie I could be streaming on my couch at home. I’m not saying I shouldn’t ever go out and do things I enjoy doing with my friends, but if it’s not in the budget I shouldn’t be doing it. Which brings me to my next financial mistake…

Not creating a budget, or creating one but not sticking to it

I went to a financial literacy event at my university, and one of the tips the financial advisor gave was to create a physical budget, on paper, and to stick to it every month. As soon as I left the event, I went home and created a budget plan for myself, thinking it would make me into some new and improved twenty-something financial guru. I stuck to my budget for about a week  before I went right back to my old spending habits. A budget is great financial planning tool, but what good is a budget if you don’t stick to it?

Taking on debt and using it irresponsibly 

This is something I know a lot of my friends and I regret doing. If you’re taking out student  loans please use them for school! I can’t emphasize this enough. Remember this is money you will have to pay back. Use it for what it’s meant for rather than blowing it on food, clothes, and vacations.

Not investing in quality items 

When it came to buying clothes or any item I would always spring for cheap prices over spending a bit more for quality items. I quickly found out that cheap usually means poor quality. I had to constantly buy new things because the stuff I was buying would fall apart. So, the lesson here is if you can afford to spend money on quality items don’t be afraid to because they’ll last much longer. In the end you’ll actually save money because you won’t have to buy new things to replace the old ones.

Not putting money in a 401(k)

Before starting my current job, I had no idea what a 401(k) even was (if you don’t know what a 401(k) is click here to find out.) and I didn’t start putting money into it until some of my older friends told me how much they regretted not setting aside a percent of their earnings to go into their 401(k). If you’re a working twenty-something and have the option to have a 401(k) don’t be afraid to invest in it just because your check will be a bit smaller. It will be worth it in the future.

That being said, my goal is to eliminate these habits now so that I don’t continue them later. Before writing this post, I created a new updated budget and added money to my savings account. I plan on giving updates on what tips have helped me improve financially and things that simply aren’t working for me. Habits that are ingrained in you are difficult to break, but not impossible. We don’t have to be young and broke. What are some financial tips or habits you have?