Thanks to Millennial Money Man for allowing me to write a contributing article. He has a similar story to mine, and has great advice for millennials looking to get out of debt.
Friends are always asking me how I paid off my student loans so fast, paid for part of a wedding, and saved enough money up to buy a home. I’m a big believer in what I call, “conscious spending”. I truly believe no matter how much money you make there is opportunity to save more.
I was making $30,000 a year at my first job post college. I was working for a startup and made friends quickly because most of us were under the age of 25. One thing that stood out to me was the amount of money people were spending. Most of my new friends were making under $40,000 a year and spending money like they made $100,000. Starbucks coffee and breakfast EVERY morning, followed by lunches out resulted in a minimum of $20/day spent on food WHILE at work.
That’s $400/month and doesn’t take into account the after work happy hours and dinners out!
While I was unhappy with how little money I was making, I was bringing my lunches and drinking the free coffee at work. It allowed me to put about $1000/month toward my student loans as well as put $300/month into my house savings fund.
I continued to work hard and eventually moved companies where I received a larger pay increase. At this point, my loans were paid off and I started putting more money into my home savings fund as well as putting a little bit away for my wedding.
By the time I turned 26, I had paid off $22,000 in student loans, saved $10,000 for my wedding, and $79,000 for our house down payment and closing costs. Had I spent money frivolously, I wouldn’t have accomplished all of these goals in four short years.
I did take several vacations after college, but I saved for them, I didn’t charge them on my credit card. I also enjoyed going out to dinner with friends or shopping occasionally, so I am not suggesting you give up everything you love.
You have to be purposeful in your spending. What is it that you really want? Do you enjoy your $5 coffee that much, and your lunches out? If so, great, that is what YOU ARE CHOOSING to spend your money on because it is important to you. But if you want to save for that house or whatever it may be, you need to comb through your finances and see where you can cut back.