by Christopher Kane (4 min)
You graduated, congratulations! All those classes, tests, all-nighters, and hung-over trips to the dining halls are behind you. Now all those meetings, projects, late nights at the office, and hung-over brunches are your reality.
For most of us this is the first time in our lives where we have a sizeable consistent income, but much to our chagrin those dollars don’t go as far as we imagined. Adulting is expensive. Many of the ways we scraped by in college are now frowned upon since we are real “adults”, despite how we feel nothing of the sort. So here’s a couple of ways to make all your hard earned cash work a little harder for you.
1. Dollar Stores
I’m talking about the stores where everything is actually a dollar not the 99¢ and up nonsense. These stores are a treasure trove of inexpensive goodies that are underutilized by most of us. The best items to get are things like wrapping paper, party favors, seasonal decorations, cleaning supplies, trash bags, picture frames, dry erase markers, oak tag boards, and office supplies, etc. I would stay away from any food that has a short shelf life because buying things like dollar chicken might not be the smartest move. Also, dishes, bowls, glasses, and mugs are something to be weary of because most usually aren’t made from the best-sourced materials. Overall, what they sell at dollar stores tends to be of a lower quality, so use your judgment in determining whether the quality or quantity is up to par and it is actually a great deal you’re getting. However, you’ll come to find there are many of same name brand items on the shelves at a dollar store that you’d find elsewhere.
When you have the option to prepay for a discount, and you have the money to spend, it is usually in your best interest to do so. The most common things you see prepayment options for are subscription based, such as, software, newspapers, magazines, and memberships. It usually goes something like this “pay x dollars monthly or purchase a year now and get the would-be monthly price reduced by a sizeable percentage”.
Take Amazon Prime for instance, if you were to pay month to month it would cost $10.99 but if you buy the whole year upfront it cost $99, which is equivalent to $8.25 a month. That’s a 25% discount! Why would they do this? It is because prepayment revenue is very valuable to a business for a multitude of reasons. For example, it guarantees that you will be a returning customer for a year, and they are seeing all that cash flow immediately.
Budgeting is a topic that is often overlooked during our academic careers but is vital to success in the post-grad world. There are many resources to help you with this like Mint.com, Quicken or good ol’ Excel. Without being financially disciplined and having a budget to some degree, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to finding yourself in a pickle by not having enough money to cover your expenses.
4. Live within your means
This one should go without saying but it seems to be lost upon many people. Buy only what you can afford. Buying things that are out of your price range too often is a surefire way to financial ruin. You’ll find yourself in a pile of debt from which it is difficult to get out, all while paying interest on it. Do you really need that $250 pair of shoes when the $80 pair will do? All there is to it is adhering to your budget and using your good judgment when purchasing something to determine if you’re extending yourself too far.
5. Pay off your credit cards in full every month
Get a credit card. Use it. Pay it off in full every month so you never pay interest. The Millennial generation seems to have a disposition against credit cards, but unfortunately it is a necessary financial evil in order to build credit. If you plan on buying a house or a car one day and not buying it in full, then you need an established credit history to receive the appropriate financing. Credit basically tells lenders whether you are a trustworthy borrower or not. Would you lend your money to someone who has a poor history of paying it back or no history at all?
Tips 6 - 10 coming in Part 2!