We all already know what we are supposed to do: we are supposed to spend less than we earn. We’re supposed to save up. We’re supposed to invest.
But what if you’re already living on ramen and taking your chances with the tap water? Most of us don’t have any extra left over at the end of the month. Most of us are lucky if we aren’t deeply indebted to someone (be it a friend, a parent or a credit card) by the time the month is half over. So how are we supposed to create these financially sustainable situations for ourselves from, basically, nothing?
Seriously. Yes, your apartment is teensy but how much time do you spend there, truly? You can probably fit a bunk bed in there and an extra rack for someone’s clothes in there. There has to be at least one other non-homicidal person who also only uses their apartment for sleeping in this city that you can “bunk up” with. It will cut your rent and utility costs in half.
Tip: Make sure you aren’t breaking a lease or rental agreement. Landlords get mean when you break the rules.
You don’t have to toss a bunch of money at the stock market to invest. In fact, for a relatively low price you can invest in something simple like a CD and net yourself a pretty nice windfall in a couple of years if you don’t touch it—especially if you save up enough to get one of the high yield cds.
Tip: That rent that you just cut in half? Take the half you’re saving and use it to fund your CD. Or go in with a friend that you know will still be your friend in a few years.
Don’t Skip the Bills
It’s tempting to skip out on your bills right now but don’t do it. Yes, you need that $40 for the cover charge and drink minimum at the bar but seriously—you can pay $40 now to keep building your credit and pay down (even if it is an infinitesimal amount) your debt. Or, you can spend that payment on something momentarily awesome and be forced to continue living in your 100 sq ft sublet with a roommate because your crappy credit keeps you from ever qualifying for anything better. It’s fine in your 20s but you don’t want to be That Guy in your 30s.
Have you heard of gigging? Gigging or doing “micro jobs” is where you do something once for some quick cash. Don’t worry, it’s almost never illegal! Typically these gigs are small, like taking a picture of something in the wild or making sure an electronic coupon actually works at the restaurant that advertises it. There are a few different apps and sites you can use to apply for and advertise for these things and hey, every little bit helps, right?
Just don’t take anything that involves lotion, skin or baskets.
Yes, the goal is to live as cheaply as possible so that we can have as much fun as possible. But remember: someday you really might want something more than just going to a bar every night. Plus, always having to crash at your date’s house because you live with three people in a shoebox stops being sexy at about the same time you leave college (one roommate is okay, though or we wouldn’t have included that tip…plus that’s just temporary)!