Money is important. Money doesn’t mean happiness but it does fall into line with your lifestyle. Growing up a job meant money but growing up didn’t mean bills, at least to me. Maybe that’s a bit naive but it was a thought I had as a kid growing up. Adulting is a wake-up call. The wake-up call should have occurred in college if I was really thinking but I think we’re all a bit wrapped up in studying and having fun. Some people have part-time jobs but part-time jobs with minimum wage aren’t going to get you far unless you’re racking up the hours or a waitress/waiter. If it is getting you far, that’s a good thing. Let’s talk about life after college, that’s when things get real. Money gets real. You have bills and student loans, possibly a car payment, things are adding up and it’s just like wow, where did all of this come from?
The one thing I have learned about that is probably more valuable than the classes I took in college is budgeting, if you’re taking finance, go you because I wish I had. Learning how to budget isn’t hard but it’s an eye-opener when you’re calculating how much you make throughout the month and the expenses you have throughout the month. It adds up when you start calculating rent, utilities, memberships, and etc — you really start to realize what adulting is like and you kinda hate it, at least I do. I rather I’d keep all my money but that’s just me. Let’s talk about money and budgeting — we have to talk about it, it’s not something you can ignore. People talk about money, it’s relevant in the news. Being a millennial is part of the news — we’re the focus of many conversations and money is one of them. What’s a better way to talk about money than budgeting?
Here are five ways to handle your money as you are starting out on your adulting journey or trying to better your money handling.
You have bills and student loans, possibly a car payment, things are adding up and it’s just like wow, where did all of this come from?
Live within your means
This is important. Live within your means. If you know what you have to pay for from rent, utilities, and bills then you can picture what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your money. Not only does having a budget keep you on track but you know what’s left over at the end of the month. Don’t overspend or exert yourself on rent when you can find a place cheaper and live your life without struggling. If you overspend, you’re going to stress. Whether it’s paying too much on rent because you like the aesthetic or buying a new car that you should refinance to get lower payments, don’t put yourself through the struggle if you don’t have to. You have to figure out what works for you even if it means living below your means when you start out to figure out what you’re going to do.
Start a savings & emergency fund
Start a savings account because it will be your saving grace. I’m happy every month when I move money to my account because I know that I have money to my name. A lot of people like to laugh and say live a little but you can do that while saving — you can take a trip or participate in some class with Groupon. You really can save and have a good time, you should save because you never know what’s going to happen. That’s where an emergency fund comes into play — an emergency fund should be used for dire things like car repairs or a hospital bill, it should be something that you need to spend that money on. You should always have a fund as your get out of trouble fund. A savings and emergency fund should be separate — I know it’s like why should I have that many accounts but then you can dabble in one account and leave the other account alone.
Work on your credit score
The one thing I have found out is that credit scores matter. Your leasing office will ask about it, the car dealership will look it up, your future home might depend on it. So don’t max out those cards, it will affect you. Don’t skip out on a payment because that will affect it. You really want to have the best credit score that you can achieve. Make your payments on time, make your payments! You really can improve your credit score and there are tons of ways from opening a credit card and making small purchases followed up by paying off those small purchases. Paying off your debts will help you improve those scores. You really just want to work on it in whatever capacity that you can. With your budget, you can tie in those small credit card payments on groceries if you know you have the money to back it up. Your credit score is reflective of your spending habits and how you handle your money.
Paying back your debts
Some of us have student loans and some people have credit card debt, there are probably other debts out there but someone out there is dealing with a loan that they are paying back. Sure there’s probably moments where you want to give up and let the debt take over but you know it has to be paid off. It sucks and you have to plan for that. That’s another bill that will come monthly and it can make you or break you. I think the comforting fact is that you are not alone — there are many people out there dealing with student loans and credit card debt, there are people out there that are working to pay something back. Don’t get down and out about your debts but keep working to get them out of your life. Just remember that it’ll be gone one day.
Don’t get down and out about your debts but keep working to get them out of your life.
Retirement Fund and 401K
This is one thing that my dad keeps reminding me about. He says to start early rather than too late and I agree. I don’t know about some people but I don’t want to work for my entire life. I love what I do but I want to be able to retire and sit out on the beach like Grace and Frankie — obviously different circumstances than the two ladies but nonetheless, they live on the beach in a pretty beach house. If you’re lucky, your job has started a 401K for you and you’ve negotiated a percentage of your check to go away in it. On the other hand, you can start your own fund if you don’t want to use the 401K system. It’s up to you but don’t skimp out on preparing yourself for your future. Include a retirement fund in your budget whether it’s 10% of one of your paychecks or 10% from the entire month, save. I know it’s another account but it’s good, all of the saving is good.
There are dozens of money apps out there that can help you — from managing your spending to creating a budget. There’s apps on stocks and investing, you can do so much with your money with technology now. From my own experience, I use Mint and it’s pretty bomb. I’m not being paid to talk about this app but I’ve used it for years. I started using it when I started waitressing and I still use it to this day. It’s very innovative from telling me where I spent my money to giving me insights on how much income I brought in and the difference with how I spent it. It really breaks things out with data and graphs, I enjoy how user-friendly it is. There are other apps — Clarity Money, Spendee, Chronicle, Albert, and more. It all comes down to your preference.
I’m no pro at money, I do have a dad that reminds me around credit and saving so I do have a few tips to share here and there. I’m also learning so I can share as I learn. Trust me, I used to just spend here and there which led me to being frugal and really thinking about what I’m spending my money on. There is so much that you can do to work on your budget and saving, go for it. Have fun with your money and make sure you always have money!
What’s your money secret?