Supporting yourself as a young professional is endlessly difficult and stressful. No matter how much or little you make, it's hard to know how to spend your money wisely. It can seem impossible to create a budget because your daily purchases can be so varied and unpredictable. If you've been struggling to better understand your expenses, aka if your money seems to be hemorrhaging out of your bank account and disappearing into a black hole and your bank statement is always a surprise, you're not alone.
In a small survey (conducted in my apartment with both me and my dog), young professionals appear to be on the same page about finance: it seems like we're always just barely making ends meet with nothing but rotting groceries and shredded squeak toys to show for it. If you've already taken a reflective look at your spending history and discerned that your bare minimum is still too much, here are a few things that you can do to adjust your bare minimum, without sacrificing too much of your needs.
Let's be real, it sucks to work your ass off and still be unable to support yourself because the city you live in becomes more expensive every time you blink. Her are a few ways you can save money each week, without giving up what you love:
Say Goodbye To Water Bottles
They're ruining the world and they're unnecessary. Get yourself a steel or heavy-duty plastic, reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. Each night rinse it out with warm water and soap. Fill it up with water and let it sit in the fridge or freezer overnight so you have an ice cold drink waiting for you in the morning.
Make Lunch Boxes Cool Again
Spending $9 to $16 on lunch every day really adds up. To start, three times a week try making your lunch at home the night before and bring that with you to work. If you really want to be thrifty, take some leftovers from dinner.
It's important to keep your social engagements, but if you have a weekly or money tapas night with your good friends, suggest having it in your apartment instead. Tapas never fill anyone up and the booze really puts a dent in the bill. Have everyone contribute $10 to $20 and buy some wine from a local store, or have each friend bring a dish. Potlucks can be a lot of fun and there are always a ton of leftovers. Say goodbye to surprise $80 dinner bills.
Make Your Own Coffee
Do you start your morning with a $4 latte every day? If so, that's $28 a week in coffee. Here's a solution, if you don't have a coffee machine or French press, get yourself some instant coffee (you can find Starbucks brand at any local grocery) and knock $22 off your coffee bill this week.
Buy In Bulk
Guess what? Your favorite dinner foods come in bulk at various grocery stores and are searchable through Yelp. Once a month, stock up on pasta, quinoa, rice, beans, lentils, nuts and dried fruit and save a ton of money wasted on packaging and brand names. This is also a super easy way to be eco- friendly.
Go To The Farmer's Market
Do you spend a ton of money each week on produce that is brown and mushy by the end of the week because you weren't able to eat or cook it all? Try getting your produce at your local farmers market — that way you can control the quantity and only get as much as you realistically think you can eat. And, there are always amazing deals.
Make Your Own Products
Did you know that toiletries like toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion, face wash, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner can all be made from a handful of environmentally friendly ingredients you already have at home? Save some big bucks making your own. Lauren Singer at Trash is for Tossers will help walk you through it.
Don't Get That Uber
At least once a week, challenge yourself to walk or use the subway or bus rather than taking an Uber. The subway is usually faster, anyway.
The World Is Your Gym
If expensive gym spin classes are setting you back, switch up your workout routine. Run outside if the weather allows, or do some indoor exercise if that better suits your preferences. There are hundreds of videos to stream online with total sweat-inducing workouts — check out some great fitness picks here.
Images: Giphy, CBS