I had a lot of fun writing my Adulting in the Kitchen post a while back, so I thought I would share a few more tidbits I’ve learned but this time with a focus on finances. I’m still far from being an adult, even if I am 38 years old, but I’m learning! And I finally feel like I’ve got a handle on this money thing so here goes…
Start saving as soon as you start earning money
This is one of my biggest financial regrets! I didn’t start saving money until I was almost 30 years old. I started working when I was 18 years old. I’m not saying that I didn’t save anything during the time in between, but I saved very little and I definitely didn’t have a plan for my savings. Even if I had just started with $5 a paycheck, I would’ve been better off than not saving anything at all.
Now, I have a set amount deposited into my savings account every payday. The amount has changed over the years – up and down – but I always put something in the account. And direct deposit really works for me. I never see the money so I never miss it.
You may be telling yourself that you can’t save, but you can! Even if it’s just five dollars a payday! Over time it will add up. Also, consider the next time that you get a raise, put that money into savings. You’re already making it (hopefully) on what you currently earn so if you never see this money, you won’t miss it.
Another option is to take you raise and put it in your 401K. Definitely another regret of mine. I didn’t start putting money on my 401k until you guessed it – I was almost 30. I didn’t really think of my job as my career until around this time of my life. It was just a job and eventually, I would decide what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve been with that same company 17 years now. And for nine of those years, I didn’t put anything in my 401k. Learn from my mistakes, people!
Learn where you can cut costs
When I moved out on my own, I was surprised at how much some of the bills were especially for just one person. So I started looking at ways to cut down on them.
First I started watching my electric bill. I started keeping the temperature of my apartment at 65 or 68 degrees in Winter and around 74 or 75 degrees in Summer. I also waited as long as I could before turning the heat on in Fall and I went as long as I could without air condition in Spring. This cut my bill down a ton!
I also looked at my cable bill. Once the promotion I was on ran out, my bill jumped up over $50. Which I thought was ridiculous considering how many channels I actually watched. So I cut out cable and just had Netflix for a long time. Now, Cap and I just have basic cable. We need the CW for The Flash, DC Legends, Riverdale! Some things are worth the expense!
I also stopped eating out every day for lunch. I pack breakfast and lunch almost every night for work.
These are things that work for me. You may need to cut back in other areas. If you enjoy cable and actually watch it then keep it! Just look for areas that you’re wasting money on and cut those areas out. Things like magazine subscriptions you never use, or maybe you have a land line phone that you never use? Let those things go!
Start a budget for problem areas
What’s an area that you overspend in? For me, it has always been clothes shopping! So last year, I decided to start a clothing budget. I figured up what my yearly budget would be and then divided it by four which gave me a quarterly budget. This really helped me get my spending under control because I didn’t want to go over that amount. I still made some bad purchases but I feel like a made a lot of progress by having a budget for my clothes.
So you can try this too! Find an area that is your weakness and set a budget for it. Is it Starbucks? Video Games? Shoes? Whatever it is set a budget for it and stick to it!
I’m not going to tell you to set an overall budget because I’ve never even done that! Maybe my clothing budget is my first baby step in that direction? We shall see!
Pay off credit cards in full every month
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Have I always stuck by this rule? No. I’ve made some mistakes here and there, and emergencies do happen! But for the most part, I try not to put more on my card than I can pay off in one month. It’s a good habit to get into.
Now, what about you? Do you feel like you’re an adult when it comes to your money habits? What money tips do you have to share? Let me know in the comments!