After you graduate university, this should mean the end of Super Noodles as a staple meal. Realistically though, you’ve probably already found out that an entry-level salary doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of extra pounds left over after you pay rent, utilities, and transportation. Not to mention, you’re obliged to use those postgraduate paycheques to pay off your student loan in a timely fashion.
If you’re living payday to payday, here are seven ways to get the most out of your meager salary while you work toward that promotion.
1. Monitor and raise your credit score
Your credit score plays a significant role in your access to loans and favorable interest rates when you make charges or borrow money. Make certain you learn how to check your credit score and routinely monitor it. If your standing drops, learn ways you can build your credit score to a better number. Maintaining good credit is vital to establishing a healthy financial situation.
2. Avoid takeaway food and beverages
Ordering takeaway food is an unnecessary expense. It’s much cheaper to learn how to shop and cook your favourite foods for yourself. BBC reports you can save 50 percent or more on your food budget if you make your own meals. Try these tips:
- Stock up on frozen and nonperishable cupboard items when they are on offer.
- Avoid processed packaged foods and buy simple ingredients.
- Replace meats with other proteins, such as legumes.
- Cook with plans for freezable leftovers so you can get a few meals out of each cooking session.
- Make coffee or tea at home and bring a thermos or reusable mug to work.
BBC also reports the average UK household throws away up to £50 worth of food waste per month, or £600 per year. This is money you can be using for other bills or putting into savings.
3. Learn marketable skills
If you want to bolster your paycheque, seek to gain additional skills and certifications, whether they’re applicable online or IRL. Depending on your line of work, you can make yourself more attractive to current or future employers, or put yourself in line for a raise or promotion.
Or you can seek out skills simply to gain the extra competence, like disaster response, first aid, or CPR training. In any context, new skills not only increase your appeal to employers and others, but they also make you a more capable person, too.
4. Move to city outskirts
If you’re planning to live in a city such as in London or Brighton, you’re going to have a rough time financially, especially as a newcomer to your career. Statistics indicate most tenants in their 20s spend about 34 percent of pre-tax income on rent in the UK. That’s a lot of money out of your paycheque. If you’re working in a high-rent district, you might want to consider renting a flat in the city’s outskirts.
5. Limit your automobile use
One of the problems associated with commuting to work is the cost of car insurance, maintenance, and petrol. If you work in a big city, parking is also an expensive consideration. If you must drive, don’t buy a new car; drive an older one because it will be less costly to insure. Even better, if you can take public transportation, do this instead.
6. Consider “workcations”
If your job takes you to other cities or countries, consider adding on a few vacation days. This way, you can see more of the world at a lower cost. Your transportation to the area will be covered, so you’d only have to put together funds to pay for your lodging and meals for the extra days you’ll be vacationing.
7. Follow a budget
The best rule associated with getting the most out of your postgraduate paycheques is to get to know your income and expenses well. List all of your income streams and, in a separate column list your expenses (including any that may be semi-annual or annual, to remind you to put aside the money to pay for these, too).
Your parents probably used spreadsheets to track their budgets, and your grandparents, paper ledgers. You don’t have to do it that way, it’s much easier when you’ve got Emma. Emma is a budgeting app that connects to all your bank accounts, tracks your expenses & paid subscriptions and suggests areas for improvement in your finances.
Living on a budget takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier to manage. After you get established, be sure to scale back on any expenses that can be cut out of your budget, so you can begin to build your savings.
Getting your career and life started in your 20s is a new experience. If you’re not wasteful with your money, you’ll begin to see progress. Mistakes will be made, but as long as you learn from them and find ways to avoid them in the future, you’ll see your bank account begin to grow as you become more money-savvy and start to grow professionally in your career.
This article was written in collaboration with Ann Lloyd from Student Savings Guide.