Skills you will need to use your paycheck wisely and still have fun.....
Your very first paycheck, now what?
Of course, first and foremost you should be able to enjoy your money and your freedom. However, freedom comes with a price. If you want to be free, without someone else telling you what to do in your own home, then you need to use your money wisely. Now I know that the items listed below are, well, BORING, but they will help you to keep as much money as possible so you can get out there and dance, party, see a movie, or go out with your friends for a night on the town. Sound good? Then read on and take notes (just kidding). Then follow through and enjoy the freedom having money gives!
An easy way to create a budget:
Add together everything you pay for for an entire month: gas, food, lunches, entertainment, rent, electric, uniforms, clothes for work, etc. Divide this amount by four and that is the usual amount you should put aside. In fact, if you add 10% of your entire check to that amount you will build a nice nest egg for those special events. When the bills come due, you have the money to pay them.
That paycheck looks real good, but don't spend it all in one place.
Put money aside immediately for your budget, whether in a savings account or a lock box under your bed, you should make it difficult for you ( and anyone else) to get to so that you will not spend it until needed.
When bills come in, check for accuracy and then pay them (from your money that you put aside). If you wait until you ‘feel like it’ the bill may, and usually is, late which means the company will charge you a late fee which will cost you more money. Also, by not checking for accuracy, you risk errors not being fixed as many companies only allow a certain amount of time to fix errors. If you wait too long the charge will become yours whether you made it or not. Also, some companies make 'honest' errors and count on you not catching them, most people don't.
By putting your money aside for use later, you won't.....
spent all of your money on roses for your girlfriend for her birthday and forget to put some of the money in the gas tank so you can take her out to dinner (did you put the dinner money aside or will she have to pay?)
Your gas tank is a good savings source...
Keep your gas tank at least 1/4 filled. Half is even better especially in the winter (because the car is heavier and you can ‘warm it up’ without running out of gas). There are several reasons for this besides the winter one.
If you let your tank run on empty, your car must use the very bottom of the tank which means any sediment, rust, oils, etc. that have accumulated will be running through your engine gumming up the spark plugs, the filters, the injectors, and anything else they touch. This will require a great deal of money for repairs, money you probably don’t have.
By keeping a set amount of gas in your tank, you are always prepared for emergency situations that might arise--such as your friend Jerry ran out of gas last night leaving the pub on main street and now needs a ride to work (how’s that for irony?)
And no one else had better touch my meals!
Home cooking will save a lot:
Make your own meals as often as possible and don’t buy frozen meals or eat out. By making your meals yourself, you save money. Eating out, while always a pleasure, costs, on average, $15 -$35 per person depending on where you eat. Cooking at home costs perhaps $5 per person including the utilities used to cook and clean. Frozen meals are three times what you would spend for cooking at home and the food is not very good-besides most frozen or canned items are loaded with sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals. Also, when you buy a pre-made meal, you are generally paying more for the company logo than the food. A quick note--if you make a lot of your favorite meal, you can divide it into meal portions and freeze them for quick meals during the week.
PS: Don’t give in to the temptation to buy that i-pad you’ve been wanting because you have their money and you figure you will pay it back with next week’s check, because the same holds for you, it will rarely get paid back. Instead, save the money, a little each week until you have enough.
Sharing living expenses with others?
Be the one to collect the money for the bills so that you know they are getting paid. The temptation to use the cash for other things and ‘pay’ it back with the next paycheck is sometimes overwhelming but the money rarely gets paid back, so don't let them pull that on you.
If you collect from the others and make the payment immediately, not only will the bill be paid and you will not lose money, but you will become known as trustworthy (sorry, had to put that in there). And, you will know who the dead-beats are and can eliminate them from the process so that you and your fellow housemates are not footing the bill for someone who never seems to have enough money.
Make your budget, and stick to it.
It might be hard at first because your friends are going out for pizza and beer and you really want to go but you didn’t put money aside for that…….Or you really want that new game that just came out but you don’t have enough savings for it yet………OK, so you might need to break away ONCE IN AWHILE, but do your best to stay on track the rest of the time. We have to break away every now and then or we become like a miser and fear giving a penny to the poor. But don’t do it often enough to affect the money you have worked so hard to save for the bills. Instead, put extra aside for those little flings that you have once in awhile. That way the bills will still get paid and you won’t become a miser!
Credit Cards are evil (so to speak)!
The offers look good, but remember the saying ‘if it looks too good to be true it usually is’!
Don’t get a credit card!
The credit card companies charge you outrageous amounts for interest and there is a fee for everything--charging, not charging, charging at gas stations, charging out of state, getting a cash advance, paying late, paying too early, not paying enough on the charges, missing a payment, the list goes on. Plus, after they have finished charging you all of those fees and the interest they give you a minimum amount to pay each month that barely makes a dent in the principal amount (the actual amount you have charged) but always pays the extra fees and charges. This way they get their money and you go broke! Nice gig they have isn't it?
Go by the unit price when you buy
A unit price tells you how much per unit you will pay for an item. Bulk items are usually cheaper by unit price. To calculate a unit price you take the amount of an item like a 4 pack of batteries [$3.00] and divide by how many units [in this case 4] and that is your unit price. So in this case you are paying 75 cents for each battery.
Reduce your bills as often as you can
Use store cards, price comparisons and coupons when shopping; check your bank statement for hidden fees and change banks if need be; turn off everything you are not using (get a surge suppressor for everything and turn it off when not in use so those sneaky gadgets don't keep drawing power); lower your heat and put on a sweater; fill in cracks and cover windows and put down draft-snakes, do whatever it takes to reduce what you have to spend each month and you will have more for fun spending.
Laundry can be dull, but you can save money there as well
Fill the washer as full as you can without stuffing. The more you wash in one load the more you save, but if you pack it to full the clothes won't get clean. Fill the dryer in a way that will allow the clothes to move around freely (usually filling a dryer about half full is best). This helps to dry them faster. Bring your own detergent, softener and dryer sheets to the laundromat. The ones available in their machines are very expensive and usually only do two loads. Do your own laundry, don’t pay the Laundromat to do it for you. They will charge a lot more money than it would cost you to do your own. Bring your own drink and/or snack. Theirs will cost you a lot more than if you bring your own.
Here are a few ideas on things you can do to reduce how much laundry you have:
- a. Sometimes you can wear things more than once--PJ's, outer clothes like sweat shirts and sweaters, etc. (Use common sense with this one, if you sweat a lot or did something extra strenuous, you might not want to wear the clothes a second time because of the odor they will retain).
- b. Wash small things by hand and hang them up to dry. Underwear, socks, etc. can all be easily washed in a sink and hung on the shower rack to dry. This will save you when it comes time to wash your clothes because you will have less to wash.
- c. If you spill something on your clothes that might stain, WASH IMMEDIATELY, don’t wait until the stain sets in or your will never be able to wear that item again. By using a damp paper towel or a wet cloth you can remove the worst of the stain and then wash the item when you get home. Even if you have to wash it by hand it is better than losing the item. PS: Drying an item with a stain will usually set the stain for life. If you have forgotten to wash an item right away, wash it but don’t dry it in the dryer. Instead hang it up to dry and continue to do this until the stain is gone.
Doing okay so far? Let's try a poll.
How many times would you wear a pair of socks before washing them?See results without voting
Here are a few more saving ideas for you, if you can stand to read on...
a. Use your air conditioner only when you need to, open your windows and turn on the fan as often as possible.
b. Price shop for all of your big purchases. You may find that phone you like on line for half the price and it might come with more features.
c. Share the costs with others. For instance share an apartment or car pool to work.
d. If a store is close by, walk to it.
e. Ride a bike to work in the summer if it isn’t too hot (not only will this save you gas money but it will save you the cost of exercising at a gym).
f. Pack you own lunch for work.
g. Fill your water bottle at a water cooler instead of buying a new bottle of water.
h. If the big game is coming up and you can’t afford to go to the sports bar with your friends, have them come to your place and have each one bring drinks and food to share. If there will be alcohol, have them bring pillows and blankets so they can sleep on the floor instead of driving home drunk. (Take their keys at the door to insure that no one attempts to drive home drunk).
Had enough of ‘saving money’?
Me too, but the more you save the more you will have for the things you want. I know that I haven’t even covered half of the ways you can save money. There are so many ways out there that the list is endless. For more ideas, talk to friends, family, co-workers, even local business people. And, by saving energy (to save money), you are also saving the environment.
I know it's hard and I know it's dull to sit at home and not go out all the time, but when you really need (or want) to go out, that money will be there. Chose your priorities and then act accordingly.
© 2012 Cheryl Simonds
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