Listen – I think we all know the struggles when it comes to money. As a young professional myself, I’ve been through it all. It started with the excitement and thrill of getting my first “real” paycheck after starting my first full-time job out of college. I was finally making money, even though it wasn’t a crazy amount by any means. I felt like I was doing things right, but I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing. I told myself that I would put some of that money into my savings account a few days later, and continued to be somewhat careless.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and some of my real expenses came in. A flat tire, dead car battery, and a week’s worth of groceries started to add up, and by the time a week after my first paycheck had gone by, it was nearly gone. I still had to wait another week until my next paycheck, which left me stressed and feeling like a failure. I quickly realized that I needed to stop procrastinating putting money into my savings and start taking my finances seriously.
Savings Comes First
Apparently, over 27% of millennials have less than $500 in their savings account. To be secure for a real emergency, you need to have more than that – but it is a start.
When your paycheck comes in, you need to resist the urge to buy things you want. Your first step should be to transfer a portion of your paycheck into your savings. Whether you set up an auto payment or do it manually, getting used to making this transfer monthly. Over time, your savings will grow, and you’ll be able to cover emergencies like a dead battery or flat tire without having to dip into your spending money.
You’ll also feel much better about taking money from your savings for an emergency than having to pay for it out of your checking account. You spend that money knowing that you saved it specifically for the reason, so it almost feels as if it lessens the blow of actually spending that much money.
Currently, I don’t pay rent. I live at home with my mom — which honestly, has been a blast. Instead of keeping the money I would be spending on rent, I put that amount into my savings every month, plus a little bit extra. It’s helped me grow my savings account, and I’ve actually begun to enjoy saving money. Who would have thought?
Realize that money doesn’t rule
Even if you have money in your savings, there is always the possibility that something will happen that could drain your entire savings balance. The thought of it is scary, but you have to understand that the reason you have a savings is to cover situations like this.
When this happens, it can be heartbreaking. Watching your hard work to save money be spent with just the swipe of a card is tough. However, think about it this way: money doesn’t rule you. You’ve already learned the basics of saving your money, so do it again. Don’t let the thought of having little to no money rule you. Instead, stay diligent with your savings, and make good choices with your money. The more you worry about how you spend your money, the more stressed you’ll be.
You know what else sucks? Paying bills. Paying for rent, food, gas, utilities, and more becomes annoying. I can’t say that anybody thinks it’s fun (unless they just have a passion for bills). Even though it feels like you’re wasting your money away, realize that as you read this, you’re probably sitting in your home or at work. You are able to drive your car wherever you want, you’re warm, you can turn on the tv when you’re bored, and you can eat a snack if you’re hungry. Without those bills, you can’t do those things.
In the end, once you get used to good money habits, you’ll become less stressed. Accepting the purpose of money and how it benefits you every day will allow you to be at peace with the amount you spend. You don’t want to spend every day worrying about your money. As long as you are responsible with your paycheck, you should be in a good spot.