Hey Readers, happy Sunday! Tomorrow I start week 2 at my new job, and I am super pumped! Next Saturday I’m also moving into my apartment, which I’m also super pumped about, but am wondering how people do this budget thing. Yes, I just called it a budget thing… Over the summer I tried, but to be honest I’m a budget-challenged person. Don’t get me wrong, I try to plan a budget and stick to it. I read websites on how to buy groceries on the cheap, and budgeting things like eating out, alcohol and coffee. The problem is that every site I have read are not helpful for someone who is living in a big city.
I live in Chicago, and while it’s cheaper than New York, rent is still expensive. For a studio in a neighborhood 30-40 minutes away from downtown on the L, I’m spending 700+ on rent. I know for a New Yorker that’s nothing, but unless you want to live far away from everything (which most 20-somethings don’t) you will have fork over a good part of your paycheck to rent. While I am very excited about my little studio apartment, some of the places I looked at were a rip off! One place was $830/ month and the size of my bedroom in my college apartment. It was also a dump and the building smelled, so not worth $830/month!
When you enter the real world, it’s different than college in terms of living. For one, you have an actual salary. You also have:
- rent payments
- transportation costs
- parking bills (if you have a car)
- groceries that don’t consist of ramen and insta-rice only
- savings to build
- credit card bills
- health insurance
- school loans… I mean the list just gets bigger and bigger!
So when the websites fail, and your friends/family are no help you just go for it! Right? Wrong, you’ll be pretty tight on cash quickly. Trust me, I’m still learning, but I’m preparing even before my first paycheck comes. If you’re like me and still figuring this budget thing out, check out my tips below on what I’ve learned. It may work well and it may not, but I guess we’ll just have to find out!
The Quick-Guide for Budget-Challenged People
Step 1: Dedicate one paycheck to pay rent. If your rent is due at the first of month, use your last paycheck of the month before to pay rent.
Step 2: Spread out your other bills accordingly. If you pay rent with your last paycheck of the month before, use that for utilities as well – because that electric bill will come a few days after the first of the month. Then pay your school loans, credit cards and savings with your first paycheck of the month. By doing this you won’t be cash poor at one section of the month, but will have minimized stress and budgeted accordingly. Yay!
Step 3: Make savings a bill. My dad (the finance/stock guy) has been giving me tips on savings and stocks. His advice is to put a good amount into my 401k, but also put at least $150 away each month for savings. You should have at least 4 months of emergency savings if you lose your job, but think about it. If you save at least $150/month for a year, you’ll have $1800 in savings! If that seems daunting, try doing this saving trick, and you’ll end up with over $1300 at the end of the year. If paying $150 out of one paycheck, break it up into two payments for the month.
Step 4: Make more trips to the grocery store. I HATE buying groceries to last me for 2 weeks. I always buy too little or too much, or my produce goes bad. I don’t mind going to the grocery store every few days, because I plan out my meals and I end up saving more. My food also doesn’t go bad before I eat it. We are all busy, but if it saves a good amount of money and waste, why not! Also, don’t go to the grocery store hungry.
Step 5: Make a ‘fun budget’. I like to go to happy hour, or a movie every now and then. So I will always put a fun budget in there. It could include renting movies off of iTunes, taking fitness classes or going out for brunch. Make sure you put what you’ll actually spend in there, not what you want to restrict yourself to. You already paid your savings bill, and your other bills/rent, so you should be good to go!
This post is definitely long, but I hate that people don’t talk about how they budget – especially millennials. It’s just money, who cares what you’re making? All I care about is what I’m doing with MY money. If you have awesome budgeting tips, share them! For budget-challenged people, we want to save money and be financially savvy, but we need some advice every now and then. So start talking about budgets and money, millennials! Maybe it’ll make us all better off in the end.
Those are my thoughts this Sunday, now back to reading BuzzFeed and figuring out which heels I’ll wear tomorrow.