We all have things that we need to save money for…Life in general, a trip, a new car, you name it. Whatever it is you probably need to save for it, especially if you’re like me and are just out of school.
Learning to save money can be a real challenge. I’ve never been a big spender, but I also never really kept track of what I was spending outside of rent and utilities at school. Now that I’m attempting to be an adult, I find myself looking at my budget a lot more.
Last summer I was lucky enough to go into my senior year of school knowing that I had a job lined up (seriously though…I’m so thankful that things happened the way that it did. My friends that had to drive all over the east coast for job interviews…bless you, I could not have done that with the way our senior year went).
Having the job lined up helped because then I was able to plan my budget around my salary. Being born and raised in Northern Virginia also helped because I had a realistic idea of what it costs to live here. It’s absurdly expensive and a lot of people were somewhat blindsided by that.
My mom and dad helped me plan out what my cost of living was or should be and from there I started to make some more choices about savings. We totaled up rent, gas, entertainment, eating out, groceries and that sort of thing.
After getting all the categories down on paper, I decided I wanted to start a car fund. My car is old and I love it and don’t ever really want to get rid of it, but I know that I’ll have to soon. You can only put so many miles on something…so I started a sub account to track my car savings.
I bank through Capital One 360 (which used to be ING Direct) and they allow you to create sub-accounts for free and set goals. I really like this feature because every time I get paid I can set aside some money and then it’s not in a primary account were I pay my bills from so I don’t touch it.
Honestly once I move money over there, I don’t even think about it unless CapitalOne sends me an email about me reaching some milestone towards my goal.
Saving can be confusing. I put aside a small amount, but the rest I track on Mint, which has quickly become my favorite budgeting app. You provide it access to all of your accounts and then set monthly budgets and it can send reminders to you when bills are due or when you’re getting close to meeting your budget.
It’s helped me save about 25-30% of my income after taxes. The general guideline is to save about 20% of your income, but what can I say, I’m an overachiever. Really though, right now is the best time for me to save a lot because it’s just me…no one is depending on me and my cost of living is relatively low.
I know a lot of people probably wouldn’t see it that way, but it’s helped me a ton. I have a quick list of things that have helped me save money over the past several months!
- Make and stick to a budget (using something like Mint or an equivalent is a great way for us smartphone loving folks).
- Create a savings only account (it can be your emergency fund, a place to save for a trip, anything really, but you need to have an account that you won’t touch)
- Make lunch/dinner at home (you’ll be shocked at how much you can save. I try to limit myself to 2-3 meals out per week)
- Set goals (whether it be a car or a trip, having some kind of reason to save money will help you actually save
- It’s okay to go over-budget (I know this totally contradicts what I’ve been saying all throughout this post, but it’s true. Say your entertainment budget is $200 a month and it’s towards the end of the month and you’ve almost reached your budget. Then a friend calls and asks you to go to a concert (or a sporting event or a festival, you get the idea). If you want to go go! I can almost guarantee there are other places where you’re not spending your entire budget that month and even if you are, it’s not worth depriving yourself of fun experiences with friends just to save a few dollars. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you 🙂
I hope my ramblings about budgeting can help someone out there…It’s been a learning process and will continue to be for me as I learn more and more about finances and that sort of thing.
Do you keep a budget? Have you ever used one of the many budgeting apps out there?