You just landed your first job, but it’s not paying very much and you know you’re going to have to budget your money carefully over the next few years. Make the most of your salary with these tips.
Don’t eat out. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it deserves repetition. It’s tempting to eat out three to four to even seven nights a week when you’re in a new city with a new job, and it’s easy to rationalize it by telling yourself you’re “being social” — but don’t do it. A regular habit of eating out could mean dropping anywhere from $50 to $150 a week just on meals, when you could save hundreds of dollars yearly buying groceries and eating in. Don’t want to sacrifice your social life? Invite friends for a homecooked meal, or find free weekend activities. Don’t buy into the lie that eating out means you’ll make friends faster — all that’ll get you is a panic attack at the end of the month when your bills are due.
Drop a few subscriptions. Do you really need Spotify Premium? Do you really need Netflix and Hulu? Spotify Premium is $10 a month, so that’s $120 a year — and if you’ve got Netflix and Hulu or anything else, you could be spending close to $300 a year or more on entertainment. If you’ve got a lower-end entry level salary, you might want to cut at least one of those subscriptions until you’ve figured out budgeting your money and paying your monthly bills. Even if you can actually afford all those entertainment subscriptions, try a couple months without them. You can always add them back later.
Avoid unnecessary “grown-up” purchases. Sure, having a TV would be nice, but you’ve got a laptop. Don’t drop a few hundred dollars just because most other adults have them. If public transportation is available, don’t buy a car — especially if you’re moving to big cities like Chicago, D.C., or New York. You won’t have to pay off a car loan, pay for car maintenance, car insurance, or parking. (Your budget will thank you later.) Those are just a few examples, but if you’re moving out, start thinking about what you actually need to live and avoid the luxuries for now.
Ms. Patrick is a senior studying history and journalism.