With the reality of U.S. student loan payments kicking back in, along with towering inflation rates - there’s never been a better time to get smarter about your finances.
To help you kick off some strong financial habits - the savings experts at SimplyCodes have put together some practical money advice for young consumers on how to navigate an increasingly compressed disposable income and how to better manage student loan repayments being back on the list of monthly expenses.
1 - Label your savings
If you're fortunate enough to have been able to set money aside, it can be a good idea to label your savings. It's easier to just take out $100 for a purchase if you haven't got a goal with your savings, but if you've got your money earmarked for holidays, gifts, emergencies, and buying a house, then there's a direct consequence towards your financial goals.
2 - Save for gifts
You've still got 4 months until Christmas, so start setting aside some money for gifts and expenses that you know will come up. For next year, calculate in advance how many gifts you give a year and the budget for these, then split it over the 12 months. Saving $50 a month versus having to fork out a magical $600 around Christmas time is much more attainable.
3 - Easy coupon usage
Online coupons can save you lots of money with minimal effort and zero embarrassment. Most coupon sites, SimplyCodes included, have Chrome Extensions that will suggest coupons as soon as you land on a site. The SimplyCodes extension, for example, will suggest the top coupons, when they were last confirmed working, and the likelihood of them still working.
4 - Always compare prices
Whether you've got your eye on a certain item (the newest iPhone or a certain pair of Nike sneakers) or are just generally looking for a type of product (dishwasher or medical insurance), we always recommend comparing prices before purchasing. You can use comparison sites, but Google Shopping also does an excellent job if you're after a specific product.
5 - Managing emotional spending
If you're prone to emotional spending, set yourself some ground rules. For example, if you still want to buy it in 24 hours, you can buy it. Or, if what you're buying is discounted, ask yourself if you would be willing to pay full price for it. If not, consider how much you REALLY want it. Trying to find other ways to regulate those emotions is also a good tactic. For instance, could you buy one of your Christmas presents early to relieve some pressure, or could you compromise by opting for a takeaway coffee with a friend instead of buying a pair of sneakers?
6 - Understand where you’re spending your money
Do you know where your money goes on a monthly basis? Taking a closer look at your expenses can help you identify areas where you can cut back or find more affordable alternatives. You can do this with the help of personal finance apps such as Mint or through some mobile banking apps such as Monzo. These apps will help categorize your spending so you can see how much you're spending on, for example, take-out, entertainment, public transport, etc.
7 - Prioritize High-Interest Loans and Make Extra Payments
If you have multiple student loans, focus on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first. By doing so, you'll reduce the amount of interest that accrues over time. Additionally, whenever possible, make extra payments towards your loans. Even small additional payments can make a significant impact on reducing the overall debt and shortening the repayment period.
8 - Set financial goals
In setting financial goals, you first need to understand your disposable income. This is your income minus your regular expenses, such as rent, electricity bills, insurance, tax, loan repayments, etc. Once you know how much you have, you can start thinking about how you want to spend that money. This will likely be a mix of short and longer-term goals, ranging from a new laptop (short-medium term) to a deposit for a home (long term) or even an earlier retirement (long term). Now, depending on when you need the money, in 12 months, 5 years, or 50 years, calculate how much you would need to set aside per month and weigh up if this is doable or if you need to reprioritize.
9 - Tips to become more economical
Adopting a thrifty mindset can help you save money in the long run. Look for cost-effective alternatives, practice mindful spending, and develop healthy financial habits such as meal planning, bulk buying, and DIY projects. By being conscious of your spending and making wise choices, you can build a more secure and sustainable financial future.