Living on a college graduate budget gives you limited spending options. In fact, frugal living becomes a necessity to slowly become a responsible spender. Simple things like managing a phone bill and paying rent on time at your first place are all baby steps toward what most college graduates like me aspire to do: own a house.
So what is the successful way in going about saving for that initial down payment? We’ve all read articles on how to spend money in smarter ways, and they often sound like an aging hippie mother scolding her children: “Old socks can become arm warmers in the winter!” or “Don’t eat out, it’s expensive! Instead blend a quick soup out of your leftovers!” and so on.
For a unique long-term approach, I was inspired by a post made a few weeks ago from Reddit that proposes the “52 Week Money Challenge” explained with this chart. The gist is put one dollar in your savings account the first week of the year, two dollars the second week and so on. The end result (if fully committed to) is $1,378 saved up in one year and $6,890 if you stay committed for five years.
While this sounds great on paper it clearly takes patience to pull off without doing some penny-pinching techniques. At the risk of sounding like an old hippie mother, there are easy ways around the house to lighten the load on your budget and make the 52 Week Money Challenge a bit more attainable.
Cutting Corners Around the House
Easy (as in they’re so easy you’ll want to do them) ways to cut the energy bill start with managing what you have plugged in to your outlets. Having a cell phone charger, blender, or stereo system plugged in while they may only get used once a day slowly wastes energy and cash. Consider unplugging items like these when you leave the house for work or putting them all on the same power strip for easy on/off access when you need them.
There are other things around the house that can stand to be off like the faucet. Quit leaving it on when you’re brushing your teeth! You’re not helping the environment or your paycheck if you let it slide day in and day out. Same goes for using the oven too; try turning the oven off in the last ten minutes of cooking to allow the residual heat to finish the process and cut back on your energy bill.
Do You Really Need All of Those Channels?
Consider how necessary cable TV is in your day-to-day life. While we all sit on our hands waiting for a provider to finally make a “pay for the channels you want” system, make note of how many shows you watch every week and how often you channel surf. Most major networks have recent episodes of their hit shows available for a few weeks after they air on Hulu, and most of them are available on the insanely cheap Netflix. All you need is a current generation game system, or even cheaper, a TV with a compatible HDMI outlet to plug your laptop in, so you can cancel the cable tomorrow.
It certainly takes time and commitment to get a bank account into good shape, but smart saving techniques now can help you with a down payment so you can get into that starter home. What long term financial goals have you set for yourself?