Hurray! You’ve finally got a job you like, and you’re making enough money to make ends meet. You can afford to pay your bills, and you can even manage a Friday Happy Hour without turning out your pockets. And then you start thinking, “Wow, it would be really nice to take a weekend and get out of town,” or maybe even, “Gosh, if I could be putting just a little extra money into a retirement account every month, I’d be set!” You contemplate getting a second job, but when would you work without exhausting yourself? Before you take that step, take a close look at your monthly budget, and you will undoubtedly find places you’re wasting that potential vacation money.
Do you drink coffee? How much? When you’re at the office, do you step across the street to buy a latte? If you do, STOP. That $4/day adds up to over $120/month. If you’re hooked, scale it down. Buy plain coffee instead of that fancy overly-whipped-icy drink. If your goal is to save, $30/month is MUCH better than $120. Even better, buy a French Press or an Aero Press and keep grounds at your desk. Use workplace provided hot water (heated water cooler, kettle, etc.) to make coffee at your desk. An unexpected bonus is that your co-workers will think your workspace smells delicious.
If you work out, check in with your gym and see if they offer a discount specific to where you’re employed. If you work for any government agency or a large company, the odds are good. If not, ask about your gym’s family plans. Do members have to be from the same family, or does the payment simply have to come from one source every month? Get together with a group of your friends and see if you’re eligible. Potential savings? Anywhere from $10-$40/month.
Look carefully at your mobile phone bill and average your usage. If you primarily send text messages, opt for a plan that allows unlimited messages and a low amount of voice/air time. If you’re a talker, keep careful track of your minutes and make sure you don’t go over. Also, know what everything on your bill means! If you have a $10/month charge for web usage but have no desire to surf the web, get rid of it! The goal for your mobile bill is, above anything else; make sure you’re not paying for anything you don’t use.
Finally (and this is the hard one), re-examine your eating habits. Are you eating dinner out five days a week? Cook dinner at home—make it fun by inviting friends. They bring the wine and you cook the food. Take the leftovers and pack them in a cute lunch bag. Don’t forget to grab it on your way out the door in the morning!
Taking these few, simple ideas and putting them to use is the first step in making your money do everything you want it to— you’ll be on your way to Vegas in no time!