As new college graduates, young professionals, and others in their twenties launch their careers, they get bombarded with tempting ways to spend money. For many, handling a more considerable income and “adult” expenses like rent, utilities, and insurance, is anew experience. Now more than ever, money management will be a skill needed to meet future saving and investing goals.
Here are tips for twenty-somethings to help control spending and manage their money.
When you were spending mom and dad’s money, it was easy not to worry about the price tags. Now is the time to learn how to spend less and pay more attention to the costs of everything you’re buying.
You’ll find that the budget options are frequently just as good as products that cost more. For example, try generic store brands the next time you go shopping. Buying less expensive items is like getting free money, so take advantage.
Buying used is another way to “buy cheap,” but the idea turns many people off. They think that these types of products might be unclean or defective. The truth is that most people barely use the things they own. These items often wind up at thrift stores or outlets such as eBay. If you buy used items instead of new ones, you can save thousands of dollars each year while getting great deals on items that are almost as good as new.
Dine out less.
Eating fancy foods, or even fast food, can be a costly habit, so cut back. Eating out is almost always more expensive than making something at home.
Restrict yourself to a few visits to a restaurant a month. Simple foods prepared at home are usually healthier, anyway. Prepare your meals ahead of time, then bring them to work with you. Most offices have microwaves, so you’re not limited to cold lunches, either. Try to think of eating out as a rare indulgence instead of a part of your routine.
Make a budget.
Maintaining control of your spending will be a challenge. Many people are perpetually surprised at how much they spend every month.
Start keeping track of every purchase you make. At the end of the month, go back over your purchases and see how many of them were really worth it. Then use this information to set a budget you can stick to for the next month. This practice will serve you well your entire life.
Be careful with credit cards.
Credit cards are a great way to build your credit, but they can also be one of the most common sources of financial disaster. Just remember, credit cards are simply another form of payment. Don’t let the fact that you can push off paying your bill to the end of the month trick you. If you don’t pay off your bill completely every cycle, you will accrue charges and pay much more in the long run.
The decision to get a credit card and use it is a serious one, and it’s important to evaluate the potential risks as well as the benefits. Paying with plastic offers excellent convenience and several other perks, but there are risks along the way. Here is a list of pros and cons associated with having credit cards:
Convenience – It is hard to beat the convenience credit cards offer. With that little piece of plastic, purchases can be quick and easy.
Less risky than cash – Carrying a credit card can be less risky than carrying cash. If you lose a wallet full of cash, that money is likely gone forever. If you lose a wallet with a credit card, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your money by freezing your card with your card carrier. Easier tracking of purchases – Many credit card issuers will track your purchases for you and provide detailed summaries that make everything from budgeting to dealing with taxes easier.
Miles, Points, and Other Perks – From airline miles and gift cards to points and money off everyday purchases, credit card users can earn a wide variety of rewards. These rewards can make paying with plastic much better than paying cash.
Less cash tied up – Trying to rent a car or book a hotel room without a credit card can be an exercise in frustration. Even if you can book travel, you will likely have to put down a hefty cash deposit. Using a credit card frees up your limited cash for other purposes.