My story is about wealth…as an illusion.

It seemed that one of my biggest goals out of college was earning a large salary. There was an ambient pressure from my school, my parents, and society to make a lot of money in order to live comfortably and be happy.
I believe that I live comfortably and am quite happy on a low income.

Financial Expectations Out of College

I graduated from an ivy league school with two of the most sought-after degrees in my industry, had worked in my industry for years as a line-level employee, and thought I would now have the credentials and experience to rise. However, jobs were scarce, competition was high, and I was only 21 years old–slim pickings for salaries. I found a job similar to my previous ones (hourly wages), which challenged my assumptions about what I really NEEDED, instead of what I THOUGHT I needed, in terms of my income.

I realized a few things about earning a living in a metropolitan area: money would come, as long as I was willing to work hard for it. If I was still working in my chosen industry, I was still gaining valuable experience and taking notes about everything along the way. And most importantly, that living comfortably did not require a large salary, as long as I was smart and creative about my expenses.

9 Ways to Save Money Out of College

I believe that anyone can live comfortably on a budget, as long as they are conscious of their spending habits and can be flexible about their lifestyle. I am going to list some tips that have probably saved me hundreds of dollars, simply by thinking before I spend–and I’m happy to share these with everyone!

Tip 1: Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have

Saving Money After College
PLAN YOUR PURCHASES and if you couldn’t pay back what you just spent within a paycheck or two, better think twice. Google ‘impulse purchase’, and try to avoid it!

Tip 2: Find Free Entertainment

Check your local museums/attractions for free days, or buy the more cost-effective versions of admissions (season tickets/passes to attractions are often money-savers if you commit). You can also be creative and go on outings to new places with friends. Or buy a Frisbee–cheap and awesome.

Tip 3: Share Expenses

I live with my girlfriend and we split everything 50/50–rent, food, gas, insurance, etc. Lots of money saved, there. No significant other? Find a friend and bunk up!

Tip 4: Do-It-Yourself

Tips to Save Money
Holy smokes, I have learned more practical information from Google than anywhere else. I’m not saying you should Google ‘how to fix a refrigerator’, but if you have a simple problem you could fix yourself, why pay someone else to?

Tip 5: Tour the Dollar Store

You have no idea how much variety a typical dollar store has. Just do me a favor, go walk through one–even if you don’t buy anything. When it comes to commodities that really don’t vary in quality (i.e. aluminum foil/saran wrap), why not spend $1? Also on your tour, Ross, IKEA, and TJ Max.

Tip 6: Diversity Your Sources

Similar to #5, it’s good to have a few places to go for similar needs. For example, if you want to try cooking with nutritional yeast, you might buy it at Whole Foods (great for hard-to-find stuff). However, if you also need a few veggies or milk, don’t pay the higher prices–buy it at your local grocery store (and maybe save some money on gas if your store has a promotion like that). Personal note, buy organic.

Tip 7: Kick Costly Habits

Saving Money College Grad
This is a tough one for some. I was never a party animal, so it’s easy for me not to smoke, drink alcohol, or have multiple daily coffees; if you stop consuming such products in excess, your bank account will reflect it!

Tip 8: Craigslist

This one needs to be done smartly. I live in Denver and it’s a very safe city; however, be sure that you are shopping safely if you buy/sell on CL. Used correctly, this service is an excellent way to pair all kinds of ‘things’ with people who need them.

Tip 9: Streamline

Having a lot of extraneous stuff can simply clutter your life. It’s good to sort through it all every once in a while. Three piles: keep, donate (or sell!), and throw away.

Wealth and Salary Are Not Equivalent

Ways to save money I believe that these little tricks will get you thinking a lot more about how you spend, as well as what your purchases mean to you. After you get the hang of ‘shopping with a strategy’, you will develop your own tactics.

But the real benefit of spending consciously is that you will be spending far less money, which will allow you to maximize the use of your income and live much more comfortably on a lower budget than you could, otherwise. This has lead me to maintain a meaningful job, spend time with my friends, and enjoy free time relaxing or pursuing hobbies–all on a low budget.

I hope this has inspired you in some way and can give you happiness in living your life!

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