7 Money Hacks for Young People

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Save money. Keep a budget. Stay out of debt. Don’t drink too much (it’s hard on your gut and your wallet).

We’ve heard all of that before. Seems simple, but how do you actually do it? A lot of the time, the key is in psychology and how you approach your finances. Here are your 7 money hacks to make sure that your cash doesn’t slip through the cracks.

1. Don’t be an ostrich.

In other words, don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore facing the facts aka your bank account. ‘Not being good with numbers’ is absolutely no excuse to slack off; it’s basic addition and subtraction, and there are calculators you can use. In fact, there are a plethora of apps out there that do all the maths for you. All you need to do is make sure that you don’t spend more than you earn. The concept is simple enough, but obviously harder to implement. Constantly checking your finances might seem depressing and tiresome, but it keeps you on track. If you see that you’ve spent a lot of money in one week, you can even it out by not eating out the next week. But if you check back in two months and see that your bank balance is in bad shape, you might have to make drastic changes. Ignorance doesn’t make the problem go away, and it’s easier to make small adjustments over time rather than have a crisis every quarter.

2. A pound saved isn’t a pound earned.

It’s the classic case of using an extra gallon of gas to go to a gas station that’s a few pence cheaper. Consider what you’re sacrificing to save some money, and whether it’s worth it. Did you download an online textbook instead of buying it, but find it very inefficient or uncomfortable to study from? Or did you waste hours standing in a queue for free food that’s just mediocre? It all depends on your preferences, but keep in mind that time is not free, and just because something doesn’t have a price doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable.

3. Make lists.

Vouchers in the mail. Pop up sales. All the marketing tools that trick your brain into spending too much money. A way to combat this is to keep a running list of things to buy; the Reminders app on the iPhone is quite useful for this and I always keep two lists. On my “Need to buy” list, I note down things like water filters, rain boots, medicine, notebooks, or birthday presents. In my “Wish List” I include anything else that pops into my mind, ranging from clothes to event tickets. This method is great for two reasons. First, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy when a surprise sale pops up. You can take advantage of the discounts by buying things that you were going to buy anyway, and if you see something that’s not on the list, it makes you evaluate if you really need the item. Second, it curbs impulse purchases. For example, for a period of time, I was consumed with the desire to buy a fancy new phone case. I put it on my Wish List to purchase when I had time, but after some time, I lost interest in the phone case and deleted it from the list. This way, you don’t actively have to exercise willpower by telling yourself ‘no,’ but you still restrict impulse buys.

4. You become broke £10 at a time.

It’s easy to justify spending £10 on a nice shirt that you saw whilst strolling down Oxford Street, or on a gourmet hamburger during lunch. £10 won’t make much difference, right? Wrong. A molehill will become a mountain and you’ll soon wonder where all of your money has gone. You don’t remember splashing out on anything really extravagant like designer shoes, but somehow, your bank balance is looking quite pathetic. Don’t make the mistake of being careless with small amounts – money is money, even if you spend it in small increments.

5. Don’t buy for the joy of buying.

What does this mean? We all indulge in retail therapy at times, but you should be spending your money because you want or need the product you’re actually buying, not just for the experience of shopping. This is linked to the previous point; if you buy a cheap dress from Primark, you might feel good in the moment, but I can assure you that you won’t feel the same about the tacky frayed polyester in two month’s time.

6. Quality over quantity.

It’s hard to remember this golden rule when you’re actually in the shop; swiping your card to pay hundreds of pounds on a nice coat seems sacrilegious when there are more affordable options that look the same. But if you continuously chose the low quality items that don’t last, you’ll end up with £500 of junk that you want to throw out. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that maybe a £300 coat that would have lasted several years would have been the better choice. That being said, not everything you buy has to be the most expensive to be useful in your life. Through trial and error, you must figure out where to spend your money to lead a satisfied life. There’s nothing worse than simultaneously feeling like you don’t have enough money but disliking everything that you own.

7. Saving isn’t the entire story.

Yes, saving money is important and that’s what the last 7 tips have been about. But there’s another side to the coin: earning more. Sometimes, not being wasteful isn’t quite enough to build up your personal wealth; there’s a limit to how much saving can do. At some point, if you want to have a higher quality life, you just need to earn more money. Consider side jobs, or even switching jobs altogether so that you get paid more for your efforts. There are hundreds of jobs on the Rise To site, so build up your profile to get matched to great opportunities. Finally, don’t forget to invest in your personal development and education; much like the quality over quantity argument, it will definitely pay off in the long run. Money is a means to an end, not the end itself.

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