I graduated from college last year with a job, which is a rare occurrence for today’s grad, so I felt very lucky. As you could imagine, it was an entry level job…with entry level pay, but when you come straight from school you think anything is pretty good pay. However, within the first few months you start to realize that with rent, utilities, car payments, and food, it starts to run out very quickly. Keep in mind that I am an accounting major, so I tend to budget pretty tightly. Nevertheless, it was apparent that I needed to pick up some extra cash. It didn’t matter how, I just needed to, so I did what any new grad would do…called my parents. Here’s some ways that we came up with to get some extra cash in and save money.
1) Get Another Job: This is most obvious one. Of course the first thing everyone thinks of when they need more money is to get another job. Here’s the catch, you need one on top of your full time job. So I started to think, what can I do in my spare time that might make me some extra cash without constraining my schedule. I finally settled upon a freelance writer. It’s not glamorous, and honestly it doesn’t pay a whole lot, but it brings in a little bit of spending money.
2) Extreme Couponing: Yup. I went there. If any of you have ever seen the show, you know you can save some good money if you buy in bulk. Okay so I’m not scouring the local Wal-Mart for 300 lbs of coffee or anything, but I have become extremely conscious of using coupons and looking for sales. I would have never thought that if you actually spent the time cutting out coupons from grocery stores weekly ads, that it would save you a ton of money…but it actually does. Plus, there’s somewhat of a gratifying feeling when you buy your weekly groceries and the clerk says that you saved $30. Guess what, that’s an extra $120 per month in my pocket. I’ll take it.
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3) Get a Roommate: I was paying $650 for rent each month. Plus utilities and it ended up being closer to $800. Mind you I wasn’t compromising my living situation and opted for a pretty nice apartment, I was still spending a lot of money. If you know me, I don’t really enjoy having a roommate with all the messes and bathroom timing issues, but it was apparent I’d have to bite the bullet and get one. Well, it sucks, but so far my monthly rent has gone down to $500 a month instead of $800. That’s a huge savings over the year.
4) Invest: This isn’t really something that a recent grad with minimal extra money thinks of, but that’s why you should do it. Take some of your savings and put it in a low risk investment, and in year or so go back and add some more money to it. This also isn’t really immediate earnings, but you’ll see a big gain later on and be happy that you did. Early investing is the key to big earnings later on, and even a kid on a low income can do it.
Being on an entry level income is hard, I know. When everything starts adding up, you can get overwhelmed at the number. You need to keep track of spending and be aware of how much you have while still saving. The new trend these days is to spend more money than you have coming in, that’s bad, horrible actually. Just keep that in mind and use some money saving tips to get by. The good news is your salary won’t be like this forever (hopefully), so enjoy trying to get everything for as cheap as you can and learn from it.