Being self-sufficient is not an easy task, especially when you happen to be a recent grad that doesn’t have a moneybags job. It’s hard to believe that only 2 years ago I was still reliant on my parents to pay my rent. Back then, I had more disposable money to spend on clothes and other miscellaneous treats; these days, I’m actively trying to pinch my pennies because I have — ugh! — bills to pay.
That being said, I feel really proud and thankful (and you should be, too) that I have been able to get to this point of being a financially independent adult. Below, I would like to share some hopefully-helpful tips for managing yo’ money:
One of the hardest things of becoming financially independent is learning to manage your money well. That means prioritizing your bills and necessary expenses over things you simply don’t need. As a fashion-conscious girl who has always enjoyed expressing myself through my appearance, sometimes this lesson was hard to swallow.
However, being forced to prioritize my spending has helped me come to a better understanding of my personal values. For example: I realized that shopping is not actually what I would ideally spend all my money on — travel is. Actually, buying clothes and shoes is not even second on my list; I would rather use my to go out with friends and to cultivate my experiences.
As a result of these reflections, every time I need to pull my wallet out I mentally ask myself, “Is this what I want to be spending my money on?” Turning down the urge to buy a new sweater when I already have so many has become easier for me to do in the interest of saving those dollars for something I care about more.
- Shop smarter
I have also learned to shop smarter — Do I need this? Do I have already have something similar? How much use will I get out of it? Is it full price? How much is it? Can I wait or find it for less? I actually use my judgement (who knew?!) when making purchases so I almost never regret them. I have implemented rules for myself like maximum prices for certain categories and mostly shopping in the sale section. If I’m ever on the fence, that probably means I don’t need it.
- Get cash back
There are sites like Ebates (see website here) that give you cash back when you shop through their site. Although the percentages may seem low, money will definitely add up over time to save future you a few bucks.
Many debit and credit cards have similar programs attached to them (e.g. Bank of America has BankAmeriDeals). If your credit card has a points or cash back reward system, you should take advantage of it and use your credit card so you can save a little in the long run. Some cards even allow you to use cash back you have earned as a credit on your statement, so you can “erase” that splurge purchase you treated yourself to.
- Find helpful apps
A friend of mine introduced me to a free(!) app called Mint, several months ago and I have developed a mostly-love-barely-hate-relationship with it. Once you sign up, you can securely connect and sync all of your bank accounts and credit cards onto the app, which then tracks all of your transactions in one place. It displays really helpful information like how much cash you have in all of your accounts next to your total credit debt, so you have a complete picture of exactly how much money you really have. The app also allows you to set budgets on categories every month so you can track your spending on restaurants/shopping/etc. I definitely recommend it!