The best advice I can give for living debt-free on a small salary is common sense. As a recent college graduate and only a part-time tutor I definitely feel the money pinch as I try to get started on a secure financial life. Life isn’t cheap which is why you need to make smart decisions, so here are my ten best recommendations for making it work and not burying yourself in credit card debt.
Make a budget. You have to be aware how you are spending your money to know how to make smarter decisions. If you aren’t keeping track of how much money you have to spend it and impose limits you will blow through your checking account no matter how much money you have.
Save. Big Time. Be prepared, especially if you are just starting out and don’t have much money built up to start putting away money each month. If you have a hard time not spending money put it in an account with withdraw restrictions or have a trusted friend hide it for a while this way if a big expense comes up you have back up money.
Streamline Costs- Once you have a budget, look for places to cut back expenses. For example, cut back on eating out, buy store brand products, and watch the impulse purchases.
Always pay off your credit card in full. If you have a credit card don’t think that means you have free money. Paying the minimum on your credit card only lengths how long your debt will last and how much will pay as interest builds.
Plan your meals wisely. Food can be a money sucker even if you always cook at home, try to plan to buy only what you will eat for the week and get just that so you don’t waste money letting food get bad.
Bring meals to work. Spontaneous trips out to lunch at work can suck up to a hundred dollars a week if you aren’t careful, still walk down the street with everyone to buy their lunch, just brown bag it and bring your own food.
Plan to indulge yourself. You can’t live while denying yourself anything but decide when and what indulgences are worth the splurge and limit how often if they are costly. Remember lots of low cost fun is to be had.
Watch movies home or rent red box instead of going out. Movie theater prices keep going up each year and snack costs are through the roof. If you really want to go to the movies look for matinee discounts and bring your own snacks.
Don’t over indulge on sales and discounts. You don’t want to spend more money to save money. Just get what you need and spend less to get the most out of a discount.