Working full time should mean that you have all the money you need to support yourself comfortably, and with few exceptions, it will. Working in a part-time position making minimum wage in one of the most expensive cities in the world, however, might pose some challenges.
For most, however, simple budgeting fixes and smart money habits will be all you need to pick yourself back up on your feet and start saving money.
To achieve this goal, all you need to do is follow these steps:
Understand Your Spending Habits
The first step to improving your financial situation is to understand where your money is going and how you are spending it. To start, take away the non-negotiable costs from your monthly income. Things like your taxes (if they are not automatically processed for you), your 401(k) contributions, your rent, and any fixed utilities you have. These costs will not change and cannot be avoided, so removing them from your income will help you understand exactly how much you have to spend.
Cut Down Your Costs
Once you have your real monthly budget, it is time to work on ways to cut down on your everyday spending. Even food costs can be lowered if you plan out correctly. Just consider how much food you waste by not being able to eat it all before it expires? Or how much you can save by buying frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh? The best part is that opting for frozen food is the healthier option, as the food has been flash frozen instead of shipped hundreds of miles in a vehicle.
You will want to be more stringent with your budget in the beginning, until you have a hefty chunk of savings to your name. So try to refrain from frivolous spending and instead live as minimally as possible. It will be good for your bank account, and to help you understand what you do, and don’t need to be happy. For example, just holding off on new purchases for a few days can help you determine whether you really wanted the item, or were just enamored by the discount.
What to Start Saving Now
There are two things you need to start saving now. One is into your retirement, the second is into your emergency savings. To do this, you will want to create a savings plan and stick to it. Work out how much you want to live off of during your retirement, and how much you would need to start saving now to accomplish this. Then go to your employer and increase the percentage of your wage so that the money can automatically be put into your 401(k) account without any temptation to spend it, rather than save it. The same applies to your emergency savings – put it away at the start of the month rather than at the end.
Improve Your Credit Score
Finally, improve your credit score. It is the best way to have good deals made available to you, and how you can lower the overall amount of money you pay over your lifetime.
1. Understand What is Holding You Back
Before you can work on improving your score, you need to understand it. If you have charge offs on your credit report, for example, this could severely hurt your score and will remain a blight on your record for seven years. You need to contact a professional today to see if it can be removed, or otherwise what else you can do to improve your credit score today.
2. Fast Credit-Building Options
If you need to build up your credit score, try to do it as quickly as possible. There are specific credit-building loans you can take out which essentially act as a savings account, so you can improve your credit score and save up your emergency savings all at once.
3. How to Stay in the Black
Always keep track of how much you have, and pay off credit card debt as soon as possible. The only reason you truly need a credit card to make purchases should be for large payments like a new car or house. Everything else should be paid off within the month, and if the item you want costs more than a month’s wages, then save up for it instead of putting it on credit.
Being financially secure is challenging, but once you have that initial emergency savings and have improved your spending habits everything else will fall into place.