Are you a millennial blowing all your hard-earned cash on avocado toast? Do you need a guide to budgeting that doesn’t involve envelopes full of cash, (haven’t people heard of Venmo by now?), or a Bible study at your parent’s church? (I’m looking at you Dave Ramsey.) If so, you have come to the right place. I am also a millennial who spends way too much money on farm-to-table brunches and third-wave coffee, but here are some key things I’ve learned in recent years that help me stay on track:
LIVE WITHIN YOUR FLIPPING MEANS (all caps intentional)
Every month, you make a certain amount of money. Every month, you have a certain amount of non-negotiable bills to pay. When that money is spoken for, it’s spoken for. That means no credit card used that you can’t pay off completely at the end of the month. You do not need a 3D printer. You do not need a new Tesla. (And no, It will NOT save you money in the long run.) You do not need to spend $200 in Anthropologie’s sale section. You just don’t. At the end of every month, you should be able to pay down debts, and to save at least a little extra. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck consistently, you might need to examine where your dollars are going.
Use technology to your advantage
Services like Mint can save you time and money, all while being ridiculously easy to use. You can set a budget for every category of spending, monitor your debts, and share accounts with your significant other. In a world where no one uses cash anymore, sometimes it’s hard to see where our dollars are going. Services like this may help you realize, for example, that perhaps you’re spending $100 a month on lavender lattes, (not that I would know anything about that.) Knowing where your dollars are going everyday really helps you take control of your finances.
PAY OFF YOUR DEBTS
Real talk: by the time you’re in your thirties, the only debts you should have are maybe a mortgage and/or a car loan. Pay down credit card debt first, and try to get any high-interest balances transferred onto lower or no-interest cards (just be sure to pay them off completely before the trial period ends). I know, I know. You might be thinking, “But I have 50k of student loans left over from my philosophy degree!!” And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that someone told you that you were a magical unicorn who deserved $100,000 worth of sitting around talking about Voltaire whilst sporting a soul patch. Nobody is perfect, and we can’t change the past. Focus now on getting those debts paid down so you won’t have to weep over them with regret well into your forties.
Get your crap together today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Take thirty seconds to download a budgeting app and get all of the information in front of you. Have a good talk with your partner about your debts, your expenses, and your spending habits. It might suck, but you can do this. I believe in you. No one is going to handle your finances but you. Start today by taking control and making sure your dollars are going where you really want them to go.