We the best. (At saving money)
Not sure if I’m that surprised, but whenever I’ve posted on social media asking you guys what you want me to blog about, 9 out of 10 times, it’s money. This is probably because, I am someone who is really open about the highs and lows of my life, especially financially an professionally. Money is a topic that people are convinced is taboo and inappropriate, but I believe the only people who benefit from us not talking about money, are the people paying us and the people with a lot of it. I can understand how talking about money can make things uncomfortable. People are reluctant to evoke jealousy, anger, insecurity, or air out any personal information that may apply to their situation. Also, it’s just a societal norm. Personally, I would rather be up front and honest, and HOPE that somehow, I am helping someone else become more aware and get into a better situation. A few (thank you angels!) people have done it for me, and here is my attempt.
Though I wish I had a secret source of income to hide from you guys, mine is very cut and dry, and though I am not living the constant thrive-y lifestyle I know I will someday, I think it is a positive thing to do to show that a normal, in debt, 20-something, with no family support, can live in the city of his/her choice and actually SAVE MONEY.
I grew up in a family where money was constantly coming up, when we had it, when we didn’t, how we made it, what we spent it on. This may have been because I am the first person in my family to go to college, because my dad is from an immigrant family, because my dad works freelance and had YEARS where he didn’t work, who knows. My parents ingrained in me, which is probably not the most healthy, that money is affiliated with success, comes with education, and that working for free isn’t something I have the time or luxury for. Sadly- I worked for free for years, but my time doing that is done.
Living in some of the most amazing, and expensive, metropolises’ on Earth, you’d like I would know literally ANYONE who is making decent money, but the truth is I don’t. Or maybe I do and y’all are just lowkey about it- imagine that. I work in music and event marketing, and before that, I wrote about music and lifestyle. One of these pays better than the other, but in the first few years of ones career (or mine at least), neither of them pay all that well.
One thing that had me confused and frustrated for literally YEARS, was peoples projection of their lifestyle vs. their actual job and assumed income. Clearly what someones job is, their income, their rent, is none of my business, but seeing people who appeared to only work freelance, (or not at all?) yet had a beautiful place with only one roommate or a car and insurance and a new iPhone and went to a few bars a week, confused me beyond belief. (Yo that’s like a 75k a year pre tax lifestyle right there. Which is only around 1,000 or less a week. Stay Woke.) It actually had me feeling like there was some secret I was missing out on and made me insecure about my own life. There were literally times I’ve wanted to scream WHO. THE. FUCK. PAYS. FOR. YOUR. LIFE.
Shit just was not adding up, and because I am annoying, I couldn’t let it go. Of course, while being nosy and curious, I didn’t allot much of my time to debating over this mystery, and more to just making sure my shit was together. But bottom line- you can’t compare yourself to rare or special situations. That is not real life. This was my problem with #GIRLBOSS, yes it was fun and inspiring, but it didn’t offer many solutions for people not on the track to be a bad ass own your own business front, or at least for now. What about people who are just trying to live a nice life, work a job, do shit the love, and not be broke? Aka… everyone?
Incase anyone has ever been curious of how on earth I travel a lot, eat out, or do whatever I do, first off, I’m flattered I somehow come off as doing so well, but to avoid you the confusion or unrealistic expectations I’ve had, I will break it down for you.
1. I have a fulltime, salaried job with benefits and vacation days that pays me what I need to live (decently, especially for a 24 year old, though I hate that age is even relevant to this vs. talent and experience). I have worked here for 1.5 years and got a raise after 1 year that I worked insanely hard and moreso PUSHED insanely hard for.
2. I freelance write for anywhere from $100 to $1000 (ok that was only two times) a month
3. For a long time, and still occasionally, I did really random side hustles on the weekend or after my day job.
4. I think about every single dollar that I spend. This sounds exhausting but I’m so used to it it comes naturally and the benefits are unbelievable.
These don’t exactly explain details. But this is just the start. Here are a few possibly insane/annoying things I do that have helped me immensely. A lot of them are no brainers, I know you have likely debated committing to one or some of them, but after a few months, the payout is wild.
They say time is money, so lets save it together.
1. Do not buy coffee everyday on the way to work. YOU ARE SPENDING $100+ A MONTH ON THIS SHIT. Rather, make your own at home, take advantage of the not so nice free work coffee if it exists, or I even bring a jar of cold brew to my office so I can drink it there.
Obviously- everyone has vices and luxuries that make them happy. BY NO MEANS DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF EVERYTHING. For example- I get my nails done (~$20) every two weeks. I have no plans to stop. But we are not the Kardashians, we can’t do every since luxurious indulgence or we have a cute $7 flat white and 1000 messages from Sallie Mae on our phones (which we also prob bought on credit.)
2. Save 8-10% of your income. In a separate savings account. I have two savings accounts, one is where I hold money for bills, rent, short term things, another is one that I try to not touch at all, where I put this money every month. Obviously this is easier said than done, but if you can’t afford to do this, either one of these two things is the case, or both. You don’t make enough money and need another job or a second one. OR, you live outside of your means.
3. Your rent should be under 30% of your post-tax income. The rule of thumb I’ve heard is 33%, but I’m voting 30, and I’m also voting for post-tax, because that is what counts. Most of you probably pay too much for rent and are never even at home. If you are in debt that requires you to pay hundreds of dollars a month, Like I am (student loans), I would aim for this to be 25%, or one week of pay.
If your rent isn’t less than 30% of your post tax income- get up out that trap house
In New York, my rents ranged from $900 to $350 (when we had 2 people living on our couch each paying $400 and deducting it from all of our rents). In LA, I pay $780 for my half of a 1 bedroom with my boyfriend. Consider your lifestyle when picking a rent. How much money are you going to spend on Ubers to get back there if you live too far. But then, how often should you REALLY be Ubering, or going at all, to the bar or club.
This is my rule for how I divide my income
Rent + Loan + Bills (phone, utilities, etc) = 50% or less of total post tax income
Your entire income – 10% (saved) – the above = your allowance, divide this by 4 and thats for the week. I really try to have consistency so I don’t have a really broke week at the end.
ALSO THIS CHANGED MY LIFE
This seems sooooo obvious, but just because your rent may be low (good for you!) do not use only your second check of the month to pay for it. This will cause you to constantly have the first two weeks of every month broker than the second two. There is literally no reason for this. Take half your rent from your first check, put it in your short term savings/checking account, then half from your second in there, and write your rent check or send it however you do. I also suggest having a separate account incase your asshole landlord takes 10 days to cash it and you get confused about your balance. This way, the only thing in that account the check is tied to is the rent so they can take as long as they want.
4. Ask for what you deserve, and really do your research and math.
You deserve it. You really do.
Did you know that a $10,000 raise is only about an extra $100 a week? Yeah. Neither did I, until I did. Companies are not going to give you a casual 40k raise, huge jumps typically occur when you switch jobs, but when asking for a raise or negotiating a salary, really do the math of how much it adds up to every month and week. Then see what you think.
When negotiating, the people in the room have mentally already agreed to the number they will offer you, and where they will cap. They are expecting you to negotiate, but sadly, this applies to me and plenty of scared newcomers I’m sure, you may let them off really easy by not negotiating at all. When you leave the room, they will probably think “LOL that was easy.” I would much rather be leaving the room with people thinking “damn, she really knew her shit and broke it down in a way that made it impossible to say no.” Also consider you typically only have the opportunity for this to change once a year.
And, if/when cause I know you will, get a raise or a new higher salary, don’t immediately go upgrade your lifestyle. Keep it the same and save, keep the low rent as long as you can and save until you absolutely need that 1 bedroom by yourself.
4. Bring lunch to work at least 3 times a week. Cooking is so much cheaper and healthier. Every time I have one of my, I didn’t pack lunch days, I try to get a cheap-o option, and it’s still anywhere from $8.50-11, even if you go to some whack shit like Panera or Subway. That is literally insane. I would rather not buy 3 $10 shitty lunches and go to one cute $30 dinner with a glass of wine with a friend.
5. Literally LOOK FOR DEALS. Every single time I shop online, I find a coupon code. Literally google the stores name, the month and year, and coupon code. I use 10-20% off H&M and Forever 21 every time. If your credit card has points, see if when you shop and go to the link THROUGH your banks website you get more points. BUT THEN immediately pay it off. Credit card points are not worth not paying it off or the interest you will get. I also use E-Bates, which is a widget type thing where every time you shop on a site that its affiliated with, you can earn cash back. This is minimal, but if I get $5 back a random ass Groupon fitness class pack I bought for no extra effort, why not. I buy so many Groupons, Gilt, Lifebooker, Hotel Tonite. Nothing embarrassing about that- its the norm.
6. Side hustle, but set limits and rules for it. Most people cannot live the life they want to live with their one job. That is just the way the world works. Especially because as soon as you get a taste of being able to take an Uber in the snow cause you’re feelin baller- you want to do it all the time. That’s another story but anyways… I have rules for my side hustle.
I used to have a side hustle where I worked a booth at a artist flea market for this woman. I was paid $10 an hour and worked 8 hours on Saturdays. This seemed like a decent use of my time because the first half, I would have been asleep anyways, and the second, I would have been wasting $40 at brunch. There were months where this was very very crucial money for me. But then it became Summer and I needed it less, and I would take the train there and back, $5, get a coffee on my way, $4, eat lunch after, and suddenly have spent a third of the money I had made. Which is a complete waste of my time. Obviously I should have been stricter with myself, but once it no longer served me, I changed my rules about the hourly rate that made sense for me. Especially once I got a fulltime job, my weekend off time was so valuable that a lot of side hustles were not worth my lack of sleep and sanity.
Everyday -that you find it necessary to meet your needs- you be hustlin
For those looking for side hustles, these are some non-writing ones that I would suggest.
1. Craigslist Gigs: door person at event, coatcheck (good tips), flyering (shockingly good pay)
2. Event staffing agencies: 24-Seven is one I really liked in NY and they have offices all over. These usually require you to have more freedom than a fulltime job, but the pay is always over $15 and working 4 day long branded activations actually really taught me how interested I was in that field. ESPECIALLY in cities where big events are happening (Austin SXSW, etc) they have a lot of temp work for branded things during these events.
3. Babysitting from a website like Care.com or specialized tutoring if you’re skilled like that. I am not. Sadly.
4. I have mixed feelings about this, but Uber/Lyft. I convinced my dad to do this when he really needed money, but to be aware, the payout is typically under $15 an hour, before you pay for gas, insurance, maintenance on your car, and all of the taxes you have to deduct at the end.
6. Find a freelance side hustle that fits with your goals and passion. For me, it’s freelance writing. THEN find a segment of that that is more lucrative, for me, its branded content through an agency. This took me years to figure out but now works.
7. When you work hard and make extra money- spend it on things that are worth it,
Don’t come over here with that ~JUST GOT RICH~ shit
Not just small things day to day in your life- if possible. When I get paid for freelance writing, I put it directly in my savings account and use it for trips. Every blog I write is at least, half of a cheap hotel somewhere, every 6 or so blogs can be a flight, etc. For a time, when I was purely freelance, all of these checks went to my rent and life, but now that it is a side hustle, I want to truly FEEL the rewards of all my extra work by spending it on something that really elevates my life like travel or investment pieces.
Hope you enjoyed. Leave any comments in the box below I’ll get back to you.