Most twenty-somethings have no money. Actually, most thirty-somethings are pretty broke these days too.
It's always been a goal of mine, to be financially stable. Probably because I've known way too many people who've struggled with money issues.
To feel like you're drowning every day? Um, that can't be fun.
So that's why debt and I are not friends.
I'm extremely fortunate to not owe any money. Believe me, I know how lucky I am. But that didn't entirely happen by accident.
Instead, it's taken a series of smart, and sometimes really difficult, decisions to get to where I'm at, financially.
So I figured it'd be nice to share a few tactics that I've used over the past few years to save money. Because if you strategize and prioritize correctly, you really can be rich in your twenties.
1. Trick Yourself Into Thinking You're Poor
I lie to myself every day. I make a certain amount of money, but I pretend that I make a whole lot less. And you know what happens when I pretend that I make a whole lot less? I SPEND a whole lot less. And then... there's a whole lot more in my bank account.
So how do you trick yourself into thinking you're poor? Automatically deduct a certain amount of money from your paychecks each month, and send that money to a separate checking/savings account. Then, forget about it. That's your emergency fund. It can also be your travel fund. But it's not money that you count on every month, which is good, because you don't end up spending it on dumb things.
2. Start the "No-Lunch-at-Work" Diet
Okay, no... I'm not talking about starving yourself. You really should eat at work. Several times. But you shouldn't BUY lunch at work. Not for $10 a meal. Wake up five minutes early every day and pack your lunch. Or, have a 10-minute dance party before bed and make your breakfast and lunch. I get mad at my man-friend because he doesn't do this. And he wastes a lot of money. You know what happens when you eat a $12 burger for lunch every day? You spend $60 a week to gain five pounds.
3. Have Ugly Nails
You don't need a mani/pedi every week. A mani/pedi will easily cost you $40. You don't need to spend $40 a week -- or even every TWO weeks -- on your nails. Go to a drug store, buy a bottle of nail polish and do your nails yourself. Sure, I don't have the best looking nails, but I do have $40 more in my pocket every week. And that makes me happy.
4. Don't Be an Alcoholic
I don't think I need to explain this one. I live in Miami. In South Beach, drinks are $17. Just looking at that price makes me want to vomit.
5. Say Goodbye to Impulse Shopping
I try really hard to avoid impulse shopping. And I do a really good job, but the Internet... it's so tempting! In 2.5 seconds, I can order pretty much anything that I want. That's kind of scary.
Before buying anything, I like to wait a couple of days. I'll see something that I want, sure. But I don't buy it before thinking about it. If two days later I don't have the same need for that thing that I wanted so badly, I don't buy it. And that saves me a lot of money.
Because a lot of times, we see something and we're like, "O.M.G. this is so pretty I need to have it!" Click, swipe, purchased. Then, two days later, we look at those new headphones we spent $250 on, and we want to cry.
6. Take As Much Money As You Can From Your Employer
No, don't steal from your job. That's bad. But if your employer offers to match your retirement in any way at all, make sure that you're getting the maximum matching dollar amount possible. Yes, it means that your paycheck will be a little smaller if you're putting away more money for retirement. But it's worth it in the long run. You don't want to be 65 years old and still working. That would be awful.
7. Have a Tiny Closet
The worst possible investment you can make is on new clothes. Sure, you need clothes, but you don't need a new outfit every week. If you want to save money, but you're one of those "I-can't-be-seen-in-the-same-outfit-twice" kind of people, you have two options. You can:
- Stop posting pictures on Facebook, or
- Stop going to social functions.
If you don't like those options, then enjoy your trips to the mall and embrace the fact that a huge chunk of your wallet is going on clothes that you'll likely throw away a year from now.
The tinier your closet, the bigger your wallet. Unless you only shop at high-end stores, in which case, I have nothing more to say.
So there you have it! Just a few ideas to help you be rich in your twenties.
Kayla Cruz is a young 20-something just entering the workforce who's hoping to share her experiences with other young professionals. She features her blog posts on "Unwritten," and is the founder of "Gen Y Girl." You can follow her on Twitter @Geny_Girl.
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