We get it. Moderation is for the folks back home. You graduated from university, migrated to an urban center, and landed an entry-level job with a corporation. Hell, you deserve to spend $800 on a couch. Still, as you live the dream—complete with its price tag of 45% of your paycheck going to rent—here are five ways that some minor forethought can scare up extra scratch while keeping your devil-may-care lifestyle intact.
5.) STOP USING PRIVATELY OPERATED ATMS
Thanks to debit cards, the money clip is quickly going the way of the rotary telephone, especially for people age 25-34. Why carry cash when there’s a money-spitting robot on every corner? Still, the ultimate convenience is also the ultimate rip-off. A $1.50 fee on a $60 withdrawal? That’s a 2.5% loss! For accessing your own money!
Don’t use them. The end. Stick to your bank’s no-fee ATMs, and always have cash on hand when needed. In what will be a recurring theme, planning ahead is always much cheaper than the alternative.
The average ATM fee is currently $1.75, and the average young urbanite uses an ATM 8 times a month. Cut your usage down to zero, and you can score an extra $170.
4.) PUT EXTRA MONEY IN A HIGH INTEREST SAVINGS ACCOUNT
The checking accounts offering low or no interest are great for students to keep that extra $83 from the sorority bake sale, but come on! You’re an adult now! In the real world, when someone asks to hold your money without offering anything in return, they should be mugging you, not accepting your paycheck deposit.
“You can’t leave!” cries your checking account with its ubiquitous ATMS. (Remember those, from the paragraph above?) “It’s so easy to get money out of me! Who is going to be there for you like that?” Well, most online savings accounts, which offer anywhere from 2.5 to 4% APY, that is. Despite not being attached to a “traditional” bank, they’ll provide little to no loss of ATM access. Don’t abandon that checking account completely, but any money you don’t need on a regular, monthly basis should definitely be keep somewhere else.
If you put $2,500 in a 3.0% APY account, you just made an extra $75. Not much, but better than that big fat null set your checking account was producing. (Warning: Earnings only valid for those who can find the Internet, and thus void for much of the previous generation.)
We’re sure your local watering hole is charging you a fair price to stand and drink your completely un-watered down beverage of choice. But, from a purely consumer standpoint, you’re paying anywhere from a 400-800% mark-up, mostly for “atmosphere.” Apathetic service and hygienically orphaned bathrooms are charming, but are they really worth that much?
No need to go teetotaler on us, but just cut two bar/restaurant drinks from your weekly regimen. Drink ‘em at home beforehand or for breakfast the next morning, we don’t care, just don’t drink them at Johnny O’Swiggin’s authentic Irish prices.
Lose two moderately priced drinks a week, and you can save over $550 a year.
2.) TRAVEL SMART
So, you’re a free spirit, and want to see the world while it’s still socially acceptable to fill your itinerary with saucy puppet shows and absinthe trips. No big deal, just make sure your appetite for adventure doesn’t leave you eating ramen until Christmas.
Cheap travel requires forethought and restraint, two attributes often absent through much of one’s early-to-mid-twenties. If you’re hoping to do some horizon expanding, just repeat after us, mantra-style: Go in the off-season, consider domestic destinations (Denver—the American Brussels? You decide), and, especially for international flights, shop around early and often.
The variables are endless, but average travel package savings with advance bookings circle around $200.
1.) Pack A Lunch
We lied – there’s going to be some minor effort involved here. But as much as you love walls covered with novelty license plates and twelve-dollar BLTs, bringing your midday feast from home can pay major dividends.
We know time is tight in the morning, and the brown paper sack look isn’t exactly haute couture. Still, suck it up, and wake up five minutes earlier to throw those two pieces of bread together at least twice a week. Alternatively, Tupperware up a big batch of soup or pasta each Sunday night, and divvy out as needed.
Pack a homemade lunch only twice a week instead of sitting at the local diner, and you’ll easily save at least an extra $600 a year.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Let’s run the numbers real quick:
Lose the ATM Fees: $170
Online Savings Interest: $75
Book Travel Early and Shop Around: $200
Brown Bag It 2x A Week: $600
Wow! Five minutes on MainStreet, and you just made $1,595*, you smart young person of extraordinary taste and talent. You can thank us later.
*Individual results, of course, may vary.