6 Essential Ways to Save Money in Your 20s
Like many of my fellow twenty-somethings, I have student loans. In order to pay them back, I've had to embrace adulthood and do the mature thing: become financially responsible.
The problem with us Millennials is that we like the experience. We fully embrace the "work hard, play hard" attitude, and that usually doesn't mesh well with the $60,000 debt bill that's hanging over our heads. We've covered how to pay those off faster before, but what about in your day-to-day life?
Sure, I could take the path of least resistance, and only pay the minimum amount each month, but that's going to result in me paying $20,000 in interest over 10 years. As someone who has two business degrees, I can't in good conscience let that accrue. Instead, I'm going to live frugally over the next few years and see how fast I can pay this sucker off -- I'm hoping to do it in three.
Here are my tips for saving money in your 20s:
Sell your car and dust off your bike.
This isn't an option for everyone, but if you sell your car, you're foregoing more than just a car payment in expenditures each month. Car insurance? No longer needed. Maintenance or breakdowns? Not a problem.
Minus the occasional flat tire, there shouldn't be much maintenance needed as I ride my bike throughout the year, and as an added bonus I'll be exercising while I do it. Not having a car also indirectly reduces your grocery bills, since you'll be shopping consciously with the thought that "I'm going to have to get this stuff home." It's not an option for everyone's living situation, but it is a good option for me.
Check out our blog post Everything You Need to Know to Survive Without a Car and Never Miss It for more pointers.
Ditch that bar tab.
I'm not talking about literally walking out on your tabs. That's rude, and illegal to boot. But bars are expensive, and are, unfortunately, also a staple of most people's social lives. How do we reduce these expenses? Host a pre-game at your house before you go out, and guzzle your drink of choice for more than 50 percent less than what you'd pay for the same drink at a bar.
And you don't have to drink bottom-shelf, either. If you're a fan of the vine, Malbecs from Argentina are cheap here (good bottles for less than $10) because of currency fluctuations in that country. Their loss is your gain! If you're a beer guy or gal, try the store brands at Trader Joe's. Costco is a great option for those who like the hard stuff: not only is it rumored that Kirkland-brand Vodka is Grey Goose, but most states outlaw alcohol clubs, making it possible to purchase alcohol (and only alcohol) from Costco without a membership card!
Be smart about groceries.
Meat is expensive, and while can reduce your grocery bill greatly by sticking to veggies, this steak-loving Texan is not going vegan any time soon. I keep my grocery bill down by shopping smart when it comes to my meats: don't get tricked into buying filet mignon -- the less expensive hangar steaks and strip steaks are tasty and often just as lean!
Vegetables were my worst nightmare as a kid, but today we get along. They are cheap, filling, and good for me, and pair well with whatever protein I'm cooking. And, for all your other needs, generic is cheaper and usually just as delicious. I make a few exceptions of course (Cheez-Its have no substitute), but in general this is my rule.
To learn more about eating healthy for less, check out our recent article, 8 Ways You Can Eat Healthy on a Budget!
Bring your lunch to work.
I'm guilty of going out to eat entirely too much. Not only does it add to your waistline, it's also expensive. Bringing your lunch to work is not only the healthier option, it will also help you chop away at your debt!
Whether it's a car, television, clothes or computer, buying used can save you tons off the sticker price. Craigslist and eBay are your friends. Clothing is easy, too -- sites like threadUP are becoming more and more popular, and you never know what you'll find at your local Goodwill store.
Utilize your local library.
Our generation is reading more than the last, which is a small victory for team-Millenials. New books can be expensive. Consider your local library, which should have most of what you're looking for (or can get an interlibrary loan if they don't). Sites like BookMooch are great if you have a collection of books you're no longer reading -- you'll be able to trade for a new one! Check our our article on all the free stuff a library card can get you.
What tips do you use to save money as a young person? Let us know in the comments!