Making the jump into the real world is exciting. It's one of the biggest monumental leaps you'll make in life. You're pumped; you're psyched, and hopefully, you're that much richer after finally getting that "real" job. You've never done this before, though. And, like all beginners, you're susceptible to making mistakes, especially when it comes to money.
As much as ever, Elite Daily's got your back. As you head into the New Year, here are the 10 money mistakes that your peers may have already fallen prey to, but you should avoid. Spread the word!
1. Moving Out Too Early
If you're fortunate enough to have the option, there is no shame in living home with your parents for a while straight out of college. You don't pay rent, you likely don’t have to pay for food, and so you can essentially take living expenses out of the equation when budgeting your salary for the year.
If you're talking money, thinking long-term is always the way to go. Living at home, if you choose to do so, can only benefit you in the long run. That is, of course, if you make the conscious decision to put what you're saving towards a great exit plan.
2. Not Learning To Cook
The very idea of doing this might frighten you, but everyone should really try it. Learning to cook means finally seeing all of the money you spend on food weekly, even monthly. Learning to cook means your food expenses are no longer ripping a hole in your pocket. You've always had mom and dad cooking for you, and while you were transitioning to the real world, you didn't have time to watch Rachel Ray whip up her 30-minute meals every day.
The undeniable truth, however, is that the cost of food you buy to prepare yourself is vastly outweighed by the money you spend outside of home. The best part about it is that if you learn how to cook well, you will acquire a healthier diet for much less money.
3. Not Pre-Gaming Before A Long Night Out
You don't want to have a look of shock when you realize how much that shot of Bacardi Silver costs at the bar. It's really not a good look. If you're going out, pre-gaming with friends ensures that you're heading out without that much further to go (or that much more money to spend) before you're three sheets to the wind. Your pockets will thank you in the morning.
4. Being Too Good For Public Transportation
Taking a cab is faster and allows you more time to get ready before heading out, but at this age, you should be able to manage your time wisely enough to make time for public transportation. It is significantly cheaper and will mostly likely save you money on nights during which you're already planning to spend a lot of cash.
5. Wasting Money On Water And Coffee
There's only one thing you really need to survive and that's water. By the time you get accustomed to things like studying, exams and that thing called "work," you'll convince yourself that coffee is necessary. First off, it's not. Secondly, by now it's probably too late to convince you otherwise so just think about this: a 24-pack of water costs no more than $6 these days, yet we regularly spend even a third of that amount for just one bottle.
In terms of coffee, depending on how addicted you are, you might even be drinking three cups a day. Like most addictions, just know that it's hurting your wallet. As always, you can save much more money by putting in a little “hard labor” and making it yourself.
6. Letting Credit Play You And Not The Other Way Around
Credit cards are G-d's gift to young people. It's the equivalent of the milk and honey of the Promised Land, in our very own pockets! It's only enjoyable, though, if you know how to use it correctly. The idea of getting a credit card at a young age should be to play it like a fiddle, to build good credit now so that you can get that car and house with little trouble in the future.
Paying your outstanding balance every month is the best way to do that, but you can't do that if you've treated your credit like a special gift-card that's magically accepted at every mall. Make purchases with your credit card that you know you can account for in your bank account and you'll protect yourself from endless debt.
7. Not Taking Advantage of Deal Sites and Offers
You know the old saying, “Work harder, not smarter”? Well, you can take that and apply it to your spending habits, as well. Buying expensive things can feel good, especially when people notice (don't act like you don't care), but how much better would you feel if you got your items for a price that matched the knockoffs? Unless you're shopping at Givenchy, most of the time, what you're looking for can be found at a much better, discounted price somewhere online. If you look hard enough, you'll find it and you'll consistently be saving money while looking good doing it.
8. Spending Way Too Much on Relationships and Others
The wealthiest of individuals will always tell you that money should always be looked at as an investment, and where there's investment, there must be ROI (return on investment). If you're going to spend money on others, you should at least have a good sense of A) if they're going to be in your life for long, and B) if they're able to do the same for you.
You want to be the nice guy, we know, but you should never do so at the expense of your own finances, especially not for people who you might end up not knowing in a couple of months.
9. Chasing Fast Money as Opposed to Having a Stable Job
Nothing in this world that lasts comes easy and anyone that tries to convince you otherwise is fooling you. When you're thinking about your own money, you should be thinking about the key buzzwords: stability, security and assets. If you're young and unemployed, there will be people who try to prey on your insecurities if they get the opportunity.
They'll preach to you about the state of the economy and how it's impossible for someone your age to get a job and they’ll sound convincing while doing it, which can make you forget all about those buzzwords. But never forget to do your research, ask for the facts and check the numbers. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
P.S. If you ever thought it was a pyramid scheme, it is.
10. Not Making an Effort to Save
Old habits die hard, and one way or another, you will learn to save money. It's a just a matter of when and how. You could, for example, find yourself at a point where your liabilities have racked up and you simply cannot afford leisure purchases anymore. Maybe an unexpected but 100 percent necessary expense arises. You could also make the decision now to have a surplus before you spend.
Having a check of $1,000, for instance, isn't an invitation to spend $1,000 over the next two weeks. Save now and you will not only be prepared for the worst, but you'll also soon have enough money to live comfortably.
Bonus: Everything you've ever wanted throughout the year is probably on sale right now.