For a long time I felt that you needed to land a job with a big fat salary in order to be successful. It took me several years to come to this realization, but the truth is, you do not need a big fat salary. Although having one will really help! The main ingredient we all need in order to reach our financial goals is good old planning mixed it with patience and determination. In this post here, I discussed 4 things I learned as a young adult with a degree (a.k.a student loan debt) under her belt. One of the things I discussed is saving money. I cannot stress that enough – saving your money is the best way to achieve your goals.
One of my short term goals is to buy a home, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I moved back in with my parents after graduating college. I have an amazing relationship with my parents and it was also a very strategic decision, in the sense that rents in the Boston area are ridiculously high and unless you give in to the idea of having a roommate (or two) it can quickly become unaffordable. I had also lived on/off campus during my college years so it did not feel like I was missing out on the whole living on your own deal. But I digress. My point is that moving back in with my parents allowed me to put extra money towards my loan payments (money that would have otherwise gone to rent payments).
While I realize that moving back in with your parents may not always be option, however, if it is an option I would advise you to do it, even if it’s just for a year or two. That will give you a huge head start in your personal finance department. There are other things I have done to save money in ways that have been pretty seamless to me:
Automated my savings
I began automating savings a few years back. I did this by opening up a savings account with a completely separate bank than where I had my day to day checking account. Then I set up bi-weekly withdrawals (which lined up with my paycheck deposits) – I started putting away 20% of each paycheck into a savings account and watched that number grow month after month.
Consolidated and refinanced my student loans
I did my undergrad from 2006-2010, this was at the peak time when interest rates were at an all-time high for borrowers. Lucky me! After graduation I was hit with bills from every direction with loan repayment plans that read interest rates that varied from 10-12%. I stuck with those terms for a couple of years until finally a light bulb went off in my head and I decided to re-finance my student loans. I refinanced them once and got it down to about 7.5% and about a year later I refinanced them again and got the interest rate down to about 5.3%. However, this part would not have been possible without the next tip.
Increased my credit score
Be very mindful of your due dates. I use an old fashioned (but very pretty) planner where I sit down and write down my due dates once a month. I have done this without fail every single month for the past 6 years. Making all of your payments on time will drastically help improve your credit score. A very good credit score will help save you money (i.e. student loan refinancing). And also when it is time to buy your home, a good to excellent credit score will be instrumental in securing a loan with the best interest rate you can get.
Payed off my car
Earlier this year I decided to pay off my car. I know that cars are depreciating assets and are never a good investment but I need my car to get to and from work and around town to run errands. While I live in the City of Boston I don’t live in the heart of the city where almost everything is within walkable distance. Paying off my car gave me extra cash to work with in my budget that I re-allocated to my student loan payments. So while this approach did not technically save me money it is allowing me to pay down my student loan debt at a faster rate (which will save me thousands when it is a ll said and done).
The changes I have made regarding my money and my money habits have come from hours and hours I’ve spent reading books, articles and listening to podcasts on personal finance. The two that I have become very fond of are Farnoosh Torabi and Dave Ramsey, I think that they have given pretty solid advice that has worked well for my these last couple of years.
Are you on a journey to saving money and reach your financial goals? If so, share what has worked for you and what has not below!