After living off of boxes of Cup Noodles, PB&J sandwiches, and cheap clothing stores in college, your first real paycheck might seem like a huge chunk of change.
But even though you have a few more dollars in your purse than when you were studying Psychology 101, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with how you spend them. Here are 5 tips to save your money while staying just as sexy.
1. Needs Come First
When you have a steady paycheck it can be tempting to go on a shopping spree or take all of your friends and colleagues out for a couple rounds of drinks…but make sure you have enough money for the essentials first; food, clothing, and shelter. These may all seem like obvious primal needs however they can be forgotten quickly when the green is blurring your vision. How can you do this? Make sure you have money set aside for your rent, utilities, food and any basic clothing you need before dropping it at the bar or Zappos.
2. Pause on Plastic
Credit cards might seem like your best friend, but they can also be your arch-nemesis! Studies show that when using plastic you’re likely to spend more than when paying wish cash. Rewards for high spending don’t make it any easier. Adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who are in debt spend almost 30 cents of every dollar earned in order to repay debts. Don’t be one of them – only use credit cards for big purchases that you know you will be able to pay off. And sometimes that designer bag and pair of shoes can wait until you have enough money saved up to pay in cash!
3. Douse your Debt
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the average out of college graduate makes around $44,455 annually. However the average college student graduates with about $27,000 in debt. With interest adding rapidly to that debt, it is important to take care of those student loans as quickly as possible. Set aside a certain monthly amount you can live with to pay down your student debt, and have that pulled out automatically from your paycheck so you don’t have to think twice about it.
4. Set Money Aside
If you are planning to make a big purchase then save up! Don’t make impulse buys or decisions – that is a sure fire way to have buyers remorse. If you want to take a trip or buy a nice gift for yourself, open up a separate bank account. Then set aside a designated amount from every paycheck and before you know it you’ll have enough money saved up to pay for it in full, or at least for a hefty down payment. This way you will also give yourself enough time to avoid an impulse buy.
5. Have a Safety Net
Picture this; you’re driving down the side of the road and some jerk sideswipes your car, your back tire blows out and you skid to a stop on the side of the road. Right at that moment you look up and watch the car that hit you speeding away from the scene of the crime, and nobody had enough time to catch the license plate number. Life happens, and sometimes it’s not fair. You can help lessen this pain by being prepared. The Average American spends about $2000 dollars per year on unexpected expenditures. It is important to have a cushion for when life starts chucking lemons your way. If you are an employee with a regular income you should have about 10% of your income in a high interest savings account. Try not to touch this money unless you absolutely have to.
It’s exciting to have some money in the bank and be able to go shopping or splurge for a night out every now and again. Just make sure you set money aside for the basics, pay off your debt, and are smart with your spending so you aren’t forced back to the Easy Mac.