It’s hard out there for a young person. Even if you land a full-time job, chances are you’re still going to be underemployed or saddled with student debt. Oftentimes, the highest paying work yields the lowest satisfaction. In fact, millennials take longer to settle into careers than people of previous generations, and bouncing from job to job is no way to achieve financial stability. Maybe you’re treading water now, but are you saving for retirement? Looking towards home ownership?
Wait! Come back! Stop crying! There’s hope. Just a few small tweaks to your lifestyle can put you on the fast track to a financially secure future.
Managing money for the first time can be stressful, but it’s best to take a proactive approach. Sit down and write out all of your estimated expenses for the month. Consider everything from rent to shampoo. Don’t forget to budget in some fun! Be honest, though. Write down what you actually think you’ll spend.
If it turns out your expenses are lower than your income, you’ve done a pretty decent job. You can “trim the fat,” so to speak, from there.
If your expenses add up to more than you expect to make, don’t worry. There’s plenty of room for creative problem solving.
You can maintain a healthy recreation fund while cutting down on food by drinking on an empty stomach! The booze will hit you like a ton of bricks, helping you pass out before you remember you skipped dinner!
If you’re worried about rising gas prices, take public transportation. A train or bus is like a workout room on wheels with all its opportunities for pull-ups, pushups, and resistance running. Go ahead and cancel that expensive gym membership. Choo choo! Next stop, savings!
Participating in lab tests is a great way to make a few dollars on the side. And if you can’t afford health insurance, ask the experiment’s administrator for medical advice. If they protest, tell them: “Sure. I understand,” and slip them some coupons to “grease the wheels” a bit.
Cook For Yourself
Eating out for every meal adds up! The eight dollars you spend on a sub, chips, and a drink at a Subway or a Quiznos could buy bread, cold cuts, cheese, and condiments for a week’s worth of sandwiches. Get a reusable water bottle. Water’s better for you than soda anyway. Make your morning coffee instead of paying five times as much for a cup from Starbucks.
You don’t have to be a farmer or a hippie to seek out wild edibles, either. Urban neighborhoods, too, have their enclaves of delicious vegetation. Fiddleheads, stinging nettles, and other plants make great additions to a salad. You can even carry them around in a pouch, and munch a sprig here or there at the office. You’re sure to be the envy of all your coworkers when they see how much money you are saving and how healthy you look from eating all the locally sourced, genetically unmodified veggies. You don’t have to give away your secrets. When you notice the longing gaze of Harold from human resources, just snap off a leaf of watercress and give ol’ Harry a knowing wink.
If you live in an area without abundant access to native vegetation, all is not lost. Chances are, your neighborhood is replete with small, edible wildlife. Sure there are pigeons and squirrels, but how much meat are you going to get from a pigeon or a squirrel? Look for stray cats and dogs, the ones without tags. Over a period of weeks, gain their trust by feeding them small pieces of meat. Lure one up to your apartment. Shave it clean. Don’t worry. It will appreciate the haircut. Then entice the animal into your crock-pot. (Have a broth ready. The scent of spices helps.) The average alley cat contains enough meat for two to three meals.
Make sure to dispose of the remains discreetly. A cat skeleton in your trash raises A LOT of questions.
Every Little Bit Counts
Don’t freak out if you can only put away a little bit of money at a time. Anything is better than nothing. Take twenty-five dollars out of every paycheck for savings if that’s all you can afford. If you’re really scraping by to survive, collect your change in a big jar. Even pennies add up over time. Take a nice sturdy glass jar and fill it with all your spare change. Don’t cheat by skimming quarters out. Wait until it’s full to the tippity top.
Look, I get it. No one likes to go to the Coinstar machine and be judged by strangers. Swallow your pride. Take your full jar of coins. It’s heavy isn’t it? Wait until nightfall and bring the jar to a nearby electronics store. Heave the jar through the window. Now act fast! You’ll only have a few minutes before the police show up. Shove as much as you can into a duffel bag. Don’t bother with DVDs or computer software. Grab digital cameras. Floor model laptops. High value items. Now get out of there!
Wait a few weeks for the heat to die down and sell the electronics to a “fence,” an intermediary handler of stolen goods.
Voila! Fast cash! Is that so hard?