I hear it all the time from fellow millennials: “I’m broke.” Well if you’re still paying for cable and going to the coffee shop every day, I don’t believe you. If you truly find yourself scratching for change at the beginning of each month to pay rent, here are a few simple things you can do to save yourself some moola. Your bank account (and stress levels) will thank you.
Easy Ways to Save Money in Your 20s
1. Re-evaluate your living situation.
That high rise overlooking downtown has an amazing view, but is it worth the price tag? The rent of the place you choose to live in now will be coming out of your pocket for at least the next 12 months. Finding an apartment that’s even $100 cheaper per month will save you $1200 per year. Think about that.
2. Ditch cable.
It may only cost $10 extra per month to add cable to your internet package, but let’s be honest – you’re probably already paying $8 for Netflix. Do you need both? (Let’s not even talk about your Hulu and HBO Go subscriptions.) Once you ditch the cable, you’ll never look back.
3. Forget the fancy gym.
$100 monthly membership fee? No, thank you. Sure, it may come with a fancy spa, free pedicures, and champagne flowing from the gym shower, but how often are you really going to take advantage of those fancy perks? Try the YMCA. Most offer deals for 20-somethings. Or better yet, find a $10 gym in your area, like Planet Fitness.
4. Quit your Starbucks and/or trendy local coffee shop habit.
The average large latte costs $5. Let’s say you only buy one during the week on your way to work. $5 x 5 days per week x 52 weeks in a year. That’s $1,300 a year spent on overpriced coffee. Why not buy a 5-cup brewer for $15 to have at home, spend $6 on 12 ounces of ground coffee, and save yourself $1k a year. And if you really just love that coffee shop atmosphere, switch to black coffee to cut your bill in half.
5. Travel on budget airlines.
People complain all the time about budget airlines. But do you know what else they complain about? The big name ones, too. No airline is perfect. So book that Spirit flight and pay half the price. But don’t get caught up in all the extra add-ons! Skip the checked bag, picking your seat, and buying food on the plane. You can most definitely fit a week’s worth of clothes in one carry on and you can bring your own food through airport security. That trip to New York just got a whole lot cheaper.
6. Invite friends over instead of going out.
Going out with friends is fun! But do you know what isn’t fun? Seeing your bill at the end of the night and realizing maybe you shouldn’t have ordered that last drink. The solution? Invite your friends over and BYOB! That $8 bottle of wine will taste just as good as the $8 glass would have. Bonus? No Uber costs – you’re already home!
7. Learn to read unit prices.
So many people don’t even know what unit prices are. They are the little numbers on price tags that tell you how many cents per ounce that peanut butter costs. The lowest priced jar isn’t always the best deal. Make a habit of figuring out the unit price and you’ll be sure to get the best deal.
8. Cook more.
9. Stop treating yo’ self for every little thing.
Nice work, you cleaned your apartment! This momentous moment, however, does not create cause for buying another new shirt. Instead, find new ways of rewarding yourself that don’t include buying things, like taking a day off work for no reason. And when you finally do do something you worked hard for, such as build your emergency fund, then maybe consider buying one new shirt.
10. Shop secondhand.
Underwear, buy new. Jeans, buy used. Many consignment stores carry items that have never been worn and are selling for at least 50% of their retail value. There are even online resale stores these days like thredUP! Check these places out first before going to the big box stores.
11. Don’t go to Target just because.
Target, Target, Target. It’s Saturday night, you’ve got no plans, you’re bored. What do you do? Target run! HALT. Don’t do it! You know there’s no chance you’re walking out of there without buying something. #targetdoesitagain Whenever you go to Target (or any store for that matter), shop with a list. This will decrease your chances of impulse buying.
12. Learn to be happy with less.
At the end of the day, realize that what you already own is probably enough. Instead of shopping when you’re stressed, why not try painting? Surround yourself with items that truly bring you joy. And remember, less usually really is more.
What other tips do you have for ways to save money in your 20s?
Originally posted February 11, 2016.