I got my mind on the money and money on my mind…but not in the fun way. Money used to burn a hole in my pocket, but once I graduated and began to pay all of my bills, I became extremely money conscious. I have noticed that my frugality has saved me in times when I could’ve really been in a bind. On top of bills, I put money into a retirement fund every month which takes even more money out of my account. Even then, I still have money left over. I am here to give you some tips and tricks as to how I survive the frugal life but still live like a young adult.

  1. Set up an actual budget. Know how much you will be paying in bills all together, like rent, estimate utilities, set aside money for gas, and put money away for retirement. Know how much you will be paying for any insurances you have, phone bills, if you’re paying back loans, and how much you plan to spend on groceries. See how much you have left over. This will be “play” money but don’t treat it as such. Don’t splurge. Save up as much as you can because you don’t know when you might need it. 

  2. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. This is something I struggled with. I have gone shopping so much this year but come home empty handed. I’m glad I did. Even if I love something I put on, I ask myself if I need it, where I would wear it, and would I be getting my money’s worth if I did buy it. I don’t get new clothes often and I will wear something over and over until I can’t anymore. I treat clothes as an investment, not something fun I just get on a whim. Going into a store and knowing exactly what you want is helpful. Your eyes won’t stray as much if you have become disciplined, which admittedly takes some training.

  3. Dump the unnecessary expenses. If you don’t watch Hulu, don’t continue to pay for it. Not listening to the Spotify you pay for? Get rid of it. Paying for a gym membership but you rarely go? Just stop. Do not pay for anything you are not using. If you have a gym at the apartment complex you live in, take advantage of what they have there. It might not be an elite gym, but it gets the job done. If you don’t have access to a gym, do some training on your own like running or using your own body weight to workout. Also, do your account a favor and find a movie theater that does $5 movies on a weeknight. Eat something at home before going if you feel like you need some entertainment.

  4. Pay your bills on time. Not only does this help you establish credit, it also helps you avoid late fees that can be crippling to your budget. Make sure you keep on track with sending in checks or even doing automatic bill pay. You won’t be late, but make sure the payments go through at a time when you know you can afford to pay it.

  5. Buy used. This is so important. Don’t buy something at full retail price when you can get something cheaper online. Read all the fine print. I bought a laptop online and it turned out to be a nightmare; however, I got a full refund and knew that I had that option because of the fine print. Buying electronics online can be risky, but worth it sometimes. However, I always have money in my budget for books. Buying used books online saves me so much money. This also goes for cars. If you want a flashy car that is expensive from a retailer, maybe look an older model. Buying a used car is smart but as they say, make sure you have the car facts.

  6. Don’t buy lottery tickets. I have never bought a lottery ticket and I never plan to. I don’t gamble. I don’t make monetary bets. Why? Waste. Of. Money. I always say that doing these things is a self-imposed tax. Sure, there is a small possibly that you could win. Instead of taking that small chance, why not take the money that you would spend on a lottery ticket or gambling and put it into a retirement fund? This way the money stays in your pocket, but if you put it into stock markets, it’s just as exciting but with less risks. If you’re young, putting money in a mutual fund would be your safest option.

  7. Travel when no one else is. Always travel in the off season. The deals are the best when no one else wants to go somewhere. Going to places after the huge rush is always less expensive. Weigh your options. If you know someone has a vacation house, ask if you could use it. If you have the option to drive or fly, see what would be cheapest.

  8. Bring your own travel food. Don’t go into airports and buy a four dollar bag of chips. Bring food through security. You are allowed to do this. Bring an empty water bottle as well and fill up at a water fountain.

  9. Speaking of food, always grocery shop with a list. Get in. Get out. Avoid a lot of the inner aisles if possible and plan your meals out in advance. Know what you need before you go, write it down, bring to the store and don’t impulse buy.

  10. For you legal adults, drink in moderation. I know, you’re probably cursing my name right now, but alcoholic beverages add up. If you are drinking daily or more than a few times a week, you could be losing more money than you think. Stick to drinking occasionally at parties or a special dinner with friends.

  11. Stop using credit cards. I am 22 years old and got my first credit card in the January of 2017. I have used it once because it’s a card specific to a store. Even though I don’t shop often, I can build credit and pay 3 monthly installments with no interest. If you have a credit card you are using for everyday purchases, stop it. Use a debit card. My debit card is the main reason that I am as frugal as I am. I can see money leaving my account and I can see how much of it I actually have. This is helpful when making my budget, but it also prevents me from spending money that I don’t have.

  12. Lower your bills as much as you can. Do things to save money on your power bill, gas bill, and water bill. Simple things like keeping your blinds closed, making sure you turn your lights off when not using them, and not letting water run forever. Adjusting your thermostat when you go on vacation is a money saver. At this day in age, you don’t need cable. If you want it, get it. If you don’t watch cable anyway, you’re wasting money.

  13. Don’t speed. Don’t get in any sort of legal trouble. This results in fines and court costs. This seems obvious, but it’s something we don’t think about when thinking about possible unnecessary costs.

 Money runs our lives whether we like it or not. Get smart about your money early. Money matters.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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