Getting your first professional job can be an exciting, new endeavor. Did you just move to a big city with a sprawling metropolis, full of great restaurants, cafes, and bars? Many college graduates like to work in big cities after graduation, and that can greatly increase general costs of living. However, you don’t have to live in the Upper East Side of Manhattan to have difficulty building a savings account. There are certain bad spending habits that young professionals develop early on. I am one of those young professionals, and I can tell you that I wasted a lot of money my first few years of working. Cutting back on small expenses will benefit you in the long run. You won’t have to be the friend who can’t afford an exotic vacation or weekend getaway because you haven’t tucked some money away for later. Here are 3 spending mistakes you should nip in the bud as soon as possible.
Save Your Bucks with Less Frequent Starbucks Visits
We all love that green Starbucks mermaid. Admit it: you feel fashionable and chic carrying her around on your walk to work while sipping your $2 coffee. Let me add that $2 is the MINIMUM you will spend if you plan on drinking Starbucks on a daily basis. If you want to get fancier and add more to your coffee– frap it up or add a few shots of espresso you can easily spend six or seven dollars a day. It took me a while to realize how much money I was wasting. I would get a large latte in the morning for $4, plus one at lunch, kissing $8 goodbye every day. Now, I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but if you work five days a week, that adds up to a hefty $160 dollars a month. You can easily spend $1920 a year on your coffee and muffin alone (ever hear of the Latte Factor?)! I don’t know how you feel about extra money, but $1920 could buy a nice vacation to Europe or South America during even the busiest times of the year! Save money by buying a box of instant coffee for the month, or use that coffee maker your parents gave you as a housewarming gift!
Stop Paying for Daily Parking in Downtown!
So, I started my professional career in a relatively cheap American city: Houston, Texas. However, rates for parking in downtown were RIDICULOUSLY expensive (as they are in most big cities). I save close to $200 a month by using public transportation to downtown. You may be surprised how much easier this can be! You don’t have to sit in traffic every day, and you are automatically decreasing your carbon footprint by opting to use the subway or bus system in your city! If you live in downtown or close to the urban center of your city, use the most efficient form of transportation there is: you very own LEGS. Walk to work! If you still can’t get live without driving to work, talk to your employer about partial reimbursement for parking.
Taking Your Lunch to Work: Good for Your Belly and Your Savings Account
In addition to your daily coffee expenses, your lunch expenses can be even more fatal towards your savings. Take ten or fifteen minutes when you get home to pack your lunch for the following day! Make sure to include a piece of fruit! An apple a day WILL keep the doctor away. Not only will you be cutting your expenses in the short term, but you will be saving yourself from needing a whole new wardrobe in the long run. My daily lunch expenses were costly on my waist line! I gained 20 pounds my first year of working, and in addition to my $10 a day on lunch, I had to spend a few hundred to renew my wardrobe. Not good for my savings or my self-esteem!