I find it funny to be writing this post now, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that money goes fast when you’re on your own and paying for everything. I think many entry-level employees, fresh out of college, would agree that many times, our paychecks don’t seem to cover all our expenses, right? This is something I had a hard time with, especially when I moved into my house a few months ago. Of course, I really figured out how to make the most of my money right before they let me go after the election, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share tips with you! So here are five times to make the most of your money when you’re at entry level or just don’t make a lot of money, to begin with How to Make the Most of Your Money.
1. Make a budget
Money will go in and out so fast, but a budget will help you understand where that money is going. Your budget doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but break down what you have to spend every month. For instance (and these are made up numbers):
Credit card: $100
laptop payment: $120
phone bill: $140
Student loans: $120
total monthly income: $2020 (after taxes)
like I said, made up numbers
I’m lucky in the instance that my rent is not that much, thankfully, but while I was working, I was paid in the middle of the month and the end of the month. The end of the month paycheck wasn’t enough to cover all my bills in the first half of the month (until I was paid again). As you can see, that’s a problem if I have more bills than I do money coming in.
So, what did I do?
2. Split the Bills
For instance, my student loan payment is due on the 10th of every month. For some reason, I’m a month ahead on three of my loans, so I took it to my advantage. One month, when it was time to pay, I only paid the loan that was due. Later in the month, when I had more money in my account, I went back and paid the other three loans so I’d still be ahead of the curve.
Yes, bills have due dates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own due date (as long as you’re not late on the bill).
3. Move Your Payment Day
I have Discover as a credit card, and they have this nifty feature where you can change your payment date. When I moved into my house, I was able to move my payment day to the second half of the month – which would effectively help me pay off more of the credit card every month. Even if you can’t move your payment date with your company, you can still pay them on a different day – which means you’ll technically own “nothing” on the due date.
Struggling with money while employed? Here are 5 ways to make the most of your money. Click To Tweet
4. Add Savings into Your Budget
I know that saving money can be incredibly hard, but trust me, you will thank yourself later. Just the other day, I had to pour another $250 into my car’s AC system (yes, it’s December, but I live in Texas – it can still be warm). Had I not saved money before I was let go, that would have hurt my wallet a lot more than it already did.
When I had a job, I was aiming to stick $150 into savings every month. It really needs to be more than that when I get a new one. Ideally, you want to have 4-6 months worth of living saved up in cases of emergencies. That can take a while, especially if you’re only putting $150 back into savings every month, but that $150 might just cover your leaky A/C repair (again).
5. Take a Month Off
No, don’t take a month off from your bills. That’s a horrible idea, I promise you. But if you’re someone that struggles with keeping everything in your budget because you’re busy out partying or you have a love for fonts on Creative Market (I’m sure you can guess which one I am), take a month off and don’t allow yourself to spend that extra money. Whether it’s $10 or $200, you’ll have extra money. If you can discipline yourself for a month, go for another month, then another, followed by another one.
Or, if you’re looking to clean up some extra little things, did you know you can put your Hulu account on hold for up to 12 weeks? You don’t cancel your account, but you won’t be able to access your shows. This works pretty well in the summer when most of my shows are on hiatus. Look to see if things like Spotify have this option, too.
Bonus #6: Side-Hustle
It was just last year that I talked about why you should start side-hustling back in college, and a year later, I still agree. Whether you make an extra $5 a month or an extra $300, every penny counts when you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck out of your budget. Start a blog, write e-books, do freelance work, something to bring in some extra money. There are plenty of ways to side-hustle, and not all of them need to be on the internet.
Life can be expensive, I know. Managing your budget and your money is all about knowing what you need and don’t need. Stick to a budget, cut costs where you can, and make sure you know where your money is going. You might find you don’t need as much as you think you do.