Congrats! You just received you first post-college job offer. You excitedly login to your Gmail account, open the email from your potential employer, and to your surprise, you see a number that’s way lower than you expected.
After negotiating as much as you could, you’re still left wondering how in the world you’ll survive on such a low salary. I’ve traveled down this road before so I’m going to share my favorite money tips with you when the struggle seems way too real.
Maintain Your Broke College Student Lifestyle
I understand that now is the time where you want to level up–especially because that’s what all your friends on Instagram are doing. You want your own place, with nice furniture, a newer car, nicer clothes and you don’t want to cook your own meals anymore. But the longer you’re able to pretend that you’re in college and keep your lifestyle expenses extremely low, the better off you’ll be in the long run. If you’re able to move back home or even get a roommate or two this will help keep your rent payments low. A huge part of your budget is housing costs, so if you’re able to lower rent payments, you will put yourself in a better position to win.
Now that housing is out the way, the next big costs that eat up a person’s budget are transportation and food. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with whose monthly car payments take up a large portion of their income. Don’t rush to get a newer, shinier car just because your old reliable one is paid off. That $400 monthly car payment on top of premium insurance is going to take a huge bite out of your budget goals. If you can avoid a car payment and buy your car with cash, you’ll be able to move ahead faster when it comes to your money goals.
Budget Like A G
When creating your budget, you first want to write down how much you make after taxes. Then draw a line and write down all of your expenses. It’s important to write down your budget instead of guessing or having numbers rolling around in your head. Guessing only leaves room for error, and if you’re budgeting at an entry level salary, you really can’t afford to make mistakes because that’s how overdrafts happen. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
In your budget, make sure you’re only writing down your minimum payment for your credit card debt or loans. Once you subtract your monthly income from your expenses, you should have money left over. Use a portion of that extra money towards your debt with the smallest balance and the other half of the extra money towards your emergency savings account. Even if all you have left over is $25.00, it’s better to save $25.00 than to save $0. Trust me every little bit adds up. Same is true with your debt. Never feel as though it’s too small of a number to make any progress. Progress is progress, beloved (Iyanla voice).
Perfect Your Side Hustle
Now what if you don’t have any money left over? Welp, there’s only so much you can cut out of your budget. If you have cut out all you can, it’s time to find ways to make more money through a side hustle. I know when you first hear the word side hustle you may immediately think of a blog. However, please understand that while it’s possible for you to make money blogging that’s more of a long term play rather than an immediate return. For quicker cash, I’d recommend thinking of skills that people will be willing to pay you for today. Think about the current skills that you use every day on your 9-5. There are a ton of online entrepreneurs who I’m sure would need help and be willing to pay you for your services as a virtual assistant, graphic designer, or even to help manage their social media platforms. Or think of things that your family and friends constantly compliment you on. Do they always ask you to bake something for a gathering? That sounds like it can be turned into a side hustle to me. If you like dogs, how about dog walking or dog sitting. Websites like Rover.com make it easier than ever to get started. There are plenty of ways for you to earn more money outside of your 9-5.
The important thing is to get your budget written down on paper to see exactly where you stand with your money each month. Go on a date with your budget, it doesn’t have to be a boring time. Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on your favorite music and get to work. Remember my first rule: Pretend you’re still in college. Don’t get caught up in the hype of thinking you have to ball out now that you have your first job and are out of college. You have nothing to prove to anyone. If you sacrifice now you’ll be better off later.
Candice Marie is passionate about helping people take control of their finances. She started the blog Young Yet Wise as a way to document her own money journey, as a result she’s managed to bring her net worth from the negatives into the positives and wants to help others do the same. Candice enjoys long walks to the bank, eating dark chocolate, working out and reading personal finance books.