I was one of those lucky SOBs who had a job right out of college. I say lucky because even though I worked my butt off for it, you need a little bit of luck in today’s market. I say SOB because whyyyy was I so excited to start working just two days after graduation? (I highly suggest giving yourself a week or so to move and adjust.) While I was super excited to jump right into my new life, I was also a broke college grad who didn’t have two pennies to rub together. I mean if I had $50 in my bank account on my first day at work I would be surprised.
It’s funny because I used to be a saver. I worked all throughout high school to save for college and I had 2 jobs every year of undergrad. But college life was loud and fun and expensive. Senior year alone I went on spring break with friends, my computer died, and I paid my own utilities… so really my $50 bank account probably shouldn’t have seemed so surprising when I was only making minimum wage.
Luckily my family is extremely loving and supportive so they helped me with the deposit on my apartment and my dad lent me a car so that I could start an adult life, but I’m way too independent of a person to want to use their generosity for too long. So I put myself on a strict saving plan and here’s how it worked:
I opened two checking accounts and a savings account.
- Checking Account One was for BILLS. This is where my direct deposit was sent. I had no debit card for this account, just checks for bills.
- Checking Account Two was for GENERAL SPENDING. I was allowed to use it for fun, but it’s also where my grocery money came from so I had to prioritize a little. I got a debit card for this account for easy use.
- As you can guess, the Savings Account was for SAVING. The rule was the money went in, not out–Emergency use only!
Everyone has a different bill budget and fun budget. For me at the time, I wanted to keep $1000 in my bill account at all times. It was important to me to know that as soon as a bill came in it could go straight out, no questions asked. Since my various utilities and student loans all came in at different times of the month, this was pretty reasonable. When a new check came in and I had extra money in my bill account, I would move some of it into my spending account and a little into my savings account. Once in a blue moon (or during a glorious three-paycheck month) I would be able to save a solid amount of money per month, but for the most part I was throwing in $50 here, $100 there, whatever I knew I wasn’t going to need.
I’m a very visual person, so keeping my spending money away from my bill money really helped me understand the reality of how much money I actually had available to spend each month. At a quick glance I knew if I had enough money to go to the movies and meet friends for dinner or if I had to go grocery shopping first.
So did it work? Well within that first year I was able to go from living paycheck-to paycheck (with no cable, internet, or couch) to an adult with real work clothes, a real couch, premium cable & high-speed internet, plus almost 10% of my annual salary in savings. #winning
Unfortunately as my savings grew I got more and more relaxed with my budget, so I wasn’t saving as much over the last 2 years. Then we had to spend a good chunk of that savings when moving down to Florida last fall, but the good news is that Dean and I now get to practice some saving together. Do you have any saving tips for us?
PS- Tips for your next job interview.