I graduated college with $43,000 in student loans. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for college so my student loans were my responsibility to pay. What did I choose to focus on? How to save money ASAP.
Also, when I realized that in one year, just one year, I had paid a total of $5,000 in just interest, a light switch went off in my head. I made the decision to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible.
Over the course of six years, I saved more than $100,000. By the time I was 29, I was completely debt-free. I had finished paying my student loans, bought my $13,700 in cash, and had $47,893 for a down payment on my first apartment.
How did I save all that money? What is the first thing you should do if you want to start saving?
review your spending habits and make the decision to change them.
That’s the great thing about habits, we have the power to change them. The one thing we don’t realize is that if we don’t pay attention to our habits they can be hurting us instead of helping us.
So you see, it’s simple. Study your spending habits and see what’s going on. What common purchases do you make every week, are they necessary?
Changing habits is not easy in the beginning but once we realize what they are (whether good or bad), that’s the first step to taking control of them.
Follow these 10 saving money tips and save thousands. These are the tips that helped me save more than $100,000 in six years.
#1. find roommates or live with your parents
I saved so much money living with my parents after college. I did help a little but it was nothing like paying rent. When I did move out for a few months, I found roommates to live with.
I think we sometimes hear, “Oh, you live with your parents?” “Do you live with your parents because you can’t afford to move out? Here’s the thing, people are always going to judge so do what’s best for you.
Yes, I could afford to move out at 23 but I didn’t want to too. I didn’t want to spend all of my money on rent so I decided to stay with my parents and focus on paying off my student loans as quickly as I could.
I did move out for a few months and I only did because I had roommates and my expenses wouldn’t have changed much. If you don’t want to live with your parent, live with roommates. You will be able to afford to live on your own eventually, trust me!
#2. pay your credit card statement in full each month.
I always paid for my credit card statement in full each month for two reasons.
1. interest is EXPENSIVE. If you can’t afford to pay for it in the next month. Don’t buy it. I understand that sometimes you may need to put something on your credit card. Focus on those one a time, don’t put everything on your credit card at once.
2. I knew exactly how much money I was spending each month. If I realized that I had spent too much one month. I wouldn’t spend as much the next. This didn’t always work out BUT I always paid for my credit card statement in full no matter what.
How does paying your credit card in full help you save money? One word, interest. You will save a lot of money in the long run by not paying interest.
#3. only go to restaurants on special occasions and birthdays.
Going to restaurants is expensive and your total adds up quickly.
Eat at home instead. Cook a meal with your family and/or friends. You also tend to eat healthier when you cook your own meals 🙂
Yes, you can still go to restaurants and get carry out but don’t do it 2-3 times a week. Instead, go to restaurants once every two weeks.
#4. you don’t need the latest smartphone.
I’ve never really been into having the latest gadgets so for me that was easy. I don’t have to have the newest or nicest thing, I’m content with my phone as long as I can talk, text, and browse the internet.
It’s October 2020 and I have an iPhone 6 🙂
If you’re the kind of person that just needs the latest iPhone. Think of a way to make extra money so that you can afford it. Do not pay for it with your pay check.
#5. pack your lunch 3-4 times a week.
This was easy and I wish more people would realize how expensive it really is to eat out.
For me, in Chicago, lunch costs anywhere from $10-$15. If I were to buy lunch three times a week, I would spend between $1,560 and $2,340 in one year. No thank you!
Decide to pack your lunch!
#6. don’t go on vacations you can’t afford.
When I graduated from college, I decided that I wasn’t going to travel until I had paid 70% of my student loans.
When I did start traveling, I only went to places I could get good deals on. I ended up finding amazing deals to beautiful locations.
I traveled to a total of five different cities across three different continents. I went to Mexico, Spain, and Peru.
Keep in mind, I went to these beautiful countries during the years I saved more than $100,000. You can save AND enjoy life at the same time.
FYI – my ticket to Madrid, Spain was only $320! Check out Scott’s Cheap Flight for amazing deals.
#7. DON’T GET YOUR NAILS DONE.
Where I live, a pedicure is $30 and a manicure is $15. That’s $45 if you get both. If you make this a habit, it can get really expensive.
Lucky for me, I’m pretty low maintenance so this was easy for me. Yes, if a pedicure and manicure were only $20 I would probably get one more often but because it’s not, I don’t.
I only get pedicures in the summer and it’s a total of 2-3 times. That’s enough for me!
What’s the alternative? You can also do your nails yourself.
#8. don’t spend a lot during the holidays.
I was very realistic about my holiday and Christmas shopping. Yes, I splurged a little sometimes but I always spent less on other categories (eating out, clothes) when I did.
I actually never gave myself a Christmas budget (even though maybe I should have) but it always seemed to work out because I never went overboard. I spend $50-$100 on each present and I have about 5 gifts to shop for each year.
If you want to “go crazy”, buy expensive, or have a lot of gifts to buy. Make the commitment to work overtime or figure out a way to make extra money to buy those gifts.
#9. don’t buy brand named clothes.
I spent more money on clothes, purses, and shoes when I was in high school than I did when I graduated from college. When I was in high school, I would buy $80 shirts and $200 purses. What was I thinking??
When I graduated from college and had $41,000 in student loans, I knew I couldn’t spend that much money on clothes anymore. Your debt puts it all into perspective. You spend your money more carefully.
If you really want to get a Tory Burch or Ralph Lauren purse. You can. You’ll need to save for it though. Reduce your spending in another area so that you can get it. It’s all about comprising in order to reach your future financial success!
#10. pay more than your minimum student loan payment.
As I mentioned with credit cards. Interest can add up quickly and it becomes a big expense.
The reason I paid a lot more than my minimum payment was because I had a high interest rate. If I had only paid the minimum, my total payment (including interest) would have been a lot higher.
Also, I paid a lot more because I could. If you can afford to pay more, do it. Why pay the bank or government more than you have to? You’re paying thousands and thousands on student loan interest and you don’t have to.
Need help with your student loans? Read, How To Pay Your Student Loans ASAP.
how to save money Summary
- Live with your parents after college or find roommates.
- Pay your credit card statement in full each month.
- Only go to restaurants on special occasions.
- Don’t buy the latest smart phone.
- Pack your lunch 3-4 times a week.
- Don’t go on vacations you can’t afford.
- Don’t get your nails done.
- Don’t spend a lot during the holidays.
- Don’t buy brand named clothes.
- Don’t pay only the minimum balance on your student loans.
I’ve given you some great ideas to start saving money ASAP.
These are the steps I took to save more than $100,000 in six years.
I understand that it’s easier said than done so you may not be able to implement every one of these ideas right away but you can always come back to them for inspiration.
My take away for you is this. Study your spending habits over the next week. What do you spend the most money on? If you really can’t spend less in one category then spend less on another. Your focus should always be how to save money.
You will have to make sacrifices. And when I say sacrifices, it’s spending less on; groceries, eating out, or clothes so it’s absolutely possible. You just have to choose to do it.