Obviously, having money saved is a huge objective of budgeting. However, I am hesitant to exclusively talk about saving because:
1. I am hardly qualified.
2. I think the idea of only saving your money is unrealistic.
Instead, words like budgeting and managing are much more accurate descriptions of what we’re all actually trying to do here. After all,money is meant to be spent. Just not all in one place.
One really great thing about leaving school and entering the workforce, is that you’re actually making a full work week’s worth of money every week. Long gone are the days of part time jobs on campus and stretching your summer paychecks to last the whole semester.
On the other hand, you also have a lot more responsibilities when you’re no longer dependent on your parents for everything. As many wise men and women have said before me… mo’ money, mo’ problems!
Like I said earlier, I am not the person anyone should be looking to as a financial compass. But, I was able to make it through a year semi-independently, and as I am writing this, I am preparing to spend 5 weeks in Europe. So, I obviously came out on the other side with a good amount saved up.
Now, let me make it clear that I am going completely broke on this European adventure. I promise you will be able to read a blog post all about the benefits of traveling once I return as a changed woman. But, until then, I will tell you a few of the things I did in order to save for it.
First step: I worked. A lot.
It is rare that a day goes by when I am not making at least a little bit of money. An ordinary week for me is to work 9 hours a day, Monday-Friday. In addition to that, it is typical for me to have at least one babysitting job per week. I hardly ever turn an opportunity down.
Working hourly, instead of salary, makes it difficult to budgeting exact amounts every month but here’s essentially how I broke it down: All of my biweekly paychecks went straight into savings. That account paid for rent,food, and Europe. That way, any additional money I made on the side was available for me to spend on gas, going out, and shopping.
Step two: I made a rule for myself that I could only pay for food and drinks with cash.
I also saved all the coins and one dollar bills that I got a change in a jar. Seeing the money leave my hands instead of my debit account helped me to see what I was spending and if I didn’t have cash, I wasn’t going out that weekend! Over the months, the numbers in my accounts grew and I was able to do the things that I wanted to do, within reason.
Maybe if I were a more responsible 22 year old, I would’ve used my savings to pay off my car faster, add more to my existing retirement fund,or move out of my parents house. But I’m not. So, for now, I am investing in global experience. After all, just like money is meant to be spent…life is meant to be lived. I’ll get to all that boring stuff when I’m older.