Saving money isn't easy. As if gas wasn't expensive enough, Iowa just enforced a new fuel tax. Guacamole is extra at Chipotle. Those American flag Nikes were just too cool not to buy. So how are you going to afford a car payment, an apartment or a house in just a few short of years?
As a young adult, there are a lot of steps you can take to start saving money. Some are big steps and some are just small, everyday habits; both essential to helping you stay on track when it comes to saving up.
Have a budget.
A budget is essential for keeping yourself on track—especially if your transactions range from contact solution to $20 worth of frozen yogurt. Know exactly how much money is coming in each month and where it is going, so that you can use a budget to allocate your funds. Budgets allow you to map out your weekly or monthly spending based on what you need, what you want, and the money you want to save. Click here for Budgeting 101.
Don't use credit as a scapegoat.
Your credit card should be used for good, not evil. Remember that you are borrowing when you make a purchase on credit, and need to be sure you can pay off anything you "borrow". The higher your credit card balance, and the longer it remains unpaid, the more you're costing yourself in interest and hurting your credit score.
Stay out of tempting situations.
Don't go "window shopping" when you're running low on cash—we all know how that one turns out. Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, or you'll end up buying 3 packs of Oreos and half-a-kart full of things you don't need. Stay smart when it comes to spending environments.
Using a reusable water bottle and drinking water at restaurants can save you loads of money in the long run, and it's healthier for you, too! And, since you can't live without it…
Make your own coffee, too.
The average American who regularly buys coffee spends about $1,092 per year on coffee alone. That caramel mocha latte with an extra shot and whipped cream might be delicious (trust me, I know), but look at it as a treat, not a habit. Keurig coffee makers or even traditional coffee pots are a great investment for your caffeine fix, and flavored creamers make it taste almost as good as that $5 drink from the drive-thru.
Check your balance.
Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your finances. The beauty of internet banking is that you can check your balance almost any time, any where. Take advantage of your financial institution's online or mobile banking programs so that you can keep tabs on your accounts at all times to avoid overspending and those awful overdraft fees.
Think about retirement.
Unfortunately, someday you will no longer be a twenty-something. Fortunately, hopefully, someday you will retire. And whether you're looking forward to a condo in Boca or lying low with your future family, you need to start thinking about saving money for retirement. A 401K and an IRA are great places to start.
Making a budgeting plan you can stick to and cutting back on a few simple things can go a long way when it comes to saving money. Your finances may look grey now, but start planning and saving today and you'll have a future so bright you gotta wear shades. Cheesy joke intended.