I have a relative I'll call Heidi, a 21 year old who does not want to look at her finances. She has student loans but no degree. Her credit cards include various retailers, and she uses her debit card to make purchases. Heidi also has medical bills ranging from her time in high school when she was hit hard while playing on the rugby team to getting root canal.
I estimate Heidi's debt to be over $20,000, this includes her car. However, she refuses to look at her income and debt. She doesn't know how much she pays in expenses each month or how much total debt she has. A budget could help her to get a handle on her finances and secure her financial future.
Sadly, most people I know don't use a monthly budget, a money-saving tip, to track their income and expenses. They don't know how many bills they receive each month as they pay (or don't pay) whatever comes in the mail or into their inbox (paperless bill pay). If you don't track how much you earn and how much you spend each month, how can you save money?
Before you spend another dollar, use the money-saving tips below to help you from growing broke.
5 Money Saving Tips To Help You From Going Broke
1. Stop paying for college -- If you are not serious about attending college and have no idea as to what you want to study, do not apply. If you don't know the career you want to pursue, stop wasting your time in college. It makes no sense to go to college, spend a great amount of money and you have no degree to show for your efforts. If you live in the U.S., realize that you do not have to attend college when you graduate from high school. In fact, I'll advise you to take a gap year, like the Brits. You can travel or work, while you discover what you like and dislike. Once you have an idea about what you'd like to do with your life, then you may want to research and apply to colleges.
2. Open a retirement savings account -- Start saving for retirement now! Any money you get from birthdays, holidays, job, etc., put it into a retirement savings account. You can either open a savings account for retirement or speak with a financial advisor about opening a Roth IRA. Don't wait until you are in your 30s or 40s to start saving. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to save more money.
3. Buy in bulk -- If you live on your own or with friends, buy items in bulk, such as toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent and other products you use monthly. You will be surprised how much you can save at wholesale stores vs. buying items at your local grocery store each month.
4. Create a budget for everything -- Budgets are your friend. Create one by using paper and pen or a spreadsheet program. List your income in one column and your expenses in the other. Total your expenses and subtract from your income. Hopefully, your income is more than your expenses. If not, figure out where to cut corners. This includes getting rid of subscriptions and cable.
Hint: You can create a budget for anything. Let's say you're getting married. Set your budget for the entire cost of the wedding; then figure out a budget for other items, such as the dress (consider spending less than you want), flowers, food and other wedding related items.
5. Pay credit cards and student loans -- Pay off credit cards and student loans as soon as possible. The longer you hold onto this debt, interest accumulates, and you end up paying more. If necessary, consolidate credit cards and student loans. However, make sure you understand consolidation. While you may have a lower monthly payment, you may have shorter payment terms.
The sooner you start using these money-saving tips and develop better money habits the better. Create and stick to a budget; you may have to tell your friends that you can't go out. While you want to have fun in your 20s, you also want to be a responsible young adult who has their finances in order. Think about this: do you want to live with your parents forever? While some moms and dads would love it if their children would live with them forever, it may not be the healthiest situation. After all, you'll want your freedom to come and go as you please, won't you? You may not be able to do this if you live with mom and dad for the rest of your life.