I’ve worked some sort of part-time job since I was 16 years old. My first job was waitressing at a local restaurant, in hopes I could save up enough money to buy my first car. While that job was a great introduction on how to make and save my own money, I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since those days of spilling milkshakes in purses (yes, that really happened).
Not including that somewhat embarrassing waitressing gig, college was the first time I really had to learn how to budget. I was prepared for budgeting things like my weekend activities, but I wasn’t prepared for everything else. Suddenly, all the little things started to add up. That $15 mascara that I buy every other month started to seem like the end of the world. I found myself eating leftovers at home instead of dining out, buying non-name brands to save the pitiful 20 cents, and saying “no” to a lot of activities my friends were doing. I was starting to become a pro at pinching pennies.
Then, life after college began. This included the lovely student loans, car payments, cell phone bill, and other numerous expenses. While I was certainly well-versed in budgeting from college, it was the student loans that really hit me hard. It seems like Sallie Mae has become one of the most popular names showing up in my Gmail inbox these days- you would think she was a friend and not the name of a loan service.
While the loans are certainly a pain in the butt, I do save a good chunk of money with my current lifestyle. Thankfully, I save a lot of money simply by living at home (thanks Mom and Dad!). Things like rent, food, internet and electricity are all expenses that I don’t pay for now, but will have to when I end up moving out.
If I could budget my money in high school and college, I knew I could apply those same techniques to life after college, and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far. I’m a very organized person, so making lists of my expenses, when the bills are due, and how much I’ll have leftover puts things in perspective for me in terms of budgeting.
It sounds simple, but I just try to be realistic. I know that right now I can’t afford a nice DSLR camera or that Chanel bag that teases me in magazine ads, so I don’t buy them. I know that if I continue working hard, it will pay off in the end and someday I will be able to afford those things- and more.