I’m Living Like A College Student As An Adult And It’s The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made
Following college, some of us were lucky to land a job right away. Suddenly, you are earning more money than you ever have before. What should you do now?
Here’s the thing, just because you suddenly find yourself earning more money, doesn’t mean you can afford to spend it. It’s that very reason that has led me to continue living like I’m in college. Now, I don’t mean sleeping in an extra-long twin bed, and going to keg parties every night, I mean as far as my budget is concerned.
I consider it one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.
It Stops Me From Overspending
Back in college, most of us did not have the luxury of having nice things. The perks of a shoe-string budget are that you know how to save because you have to know how to save.
Once you have a little bit more money it can be easy to spend it all because you feel that you deserve to.
Believe me, I remember that first “real” paycheck feeling. I thought I could buy anything I wanted but unfortunately, that is just not how life works.
In order to avoid lifestyle inflation, I’ve used my college budget as a guide when planning my current budget.
The first thing I had to square away was my living arrangements. I made sure to find an apartment that was within the same price range as my college apartment. In fact, this apartment is only two blocks over from my college apartment! Of course, I could have gone with a fancier apartment with more space and swankier decorations, but the current place does its job. The best part about it: Every month, I am rewarded for my decision with a couple hundred extra dollars in my savings account.
Secondly, I kept my older car. Most of my friends bought fancy new cars which are super fun to drive around in, but the monthly payments can really cut into your savings.
Finally, I decided to keep all my other spending in check. For me, this meant sticking to a strict budget for groceries, eating out and other expenses. I even have a special place in my budget for “fun” spending, but I make sure to keep track of it.
All of these decisions have allowed me to keep my lifestyle from leaving me broke at the end of each paycheck.
But Aren’t I Missing Out?
Nope! I have never felt like my intentionally small budget is holding me back.
In fact, by diligently saving my hard-earned money I feel like I have more options available to me than other people do. For instance, my savings could help to pay for a fun trip or feed into my retirement account. Plus, I feel less stressed out about life because I know I have built a healthy emergency fund to help out when life surprises me.
Occasionally, I think that it might be nice to live in a bigger apartment and drive a new car, but I know the pitfalls of that thinking all too well.
Many of my friends graduated from college and got jobs that paid well. Instead of saving that money to create a stable financial foundation for themselves, they are using their paycheck to buy nicer things. However, it has led to many of them leading a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle that is stressful and in my opinion just unnecessary.
Avoid Lifestyle Inflation At All Costs
I will warn you that it hard to “deflate” your lifestyle once you have inflated it. It is so easy to get used to having a nicer home, cars or really anything. I think it would be dishonest to say that we don’t all like nice things, but we don’t need all of our things to be nice.
If you aren’t quite ready to part with some of your nicer things then just try cutting back on the bigger things. You can easily save hundreds of dollars every month by switching to a cheaper apartment.
Another quick way to cut back on your lifestyle expenses is to ditch your monthly car payment. If you upgraded to a new car, then it might be time to turn it in for an older and more affordable option.
Obviously, the choices you make will impact your life in big ways so choose your cuts wisely. It might be difficult, but the results will be well worth the effort.
Sarah Sharkey is the blogger behind Adventurous Adulting where she writes about the intersection of sticking to a budget and living an adventurous life.