There’s just something about money that has the power to make you or wreck you, huh? Especially as a young adult – you’re just graduated, probably drowning in student debt, trying to find your footing in this professional world while trying to maintain your sanity. But that feels hard to do when more experienced adults constantly say “it never gets better.” I wouldn’t know, but I’m assuming they’re right – there are always going to be new bills, new expenses, new financial surprises as time goes.
If there’s anything I feel like I’ve learned from listening to people talk about finances, though, is that a lot of your financial peace + stability comes from the habits you’re forming now. Do I really have the fool-proof answers?
Heck nah, fam. And I’m sorry for that lol
I make my current income work the best I can – I have a roof over my head, I have my puppy, I have enough to make payments on my student loans, to adequately feed myself, etc. I might not have a lot of money left over to spend on myself, but I can live comfortably; and right now, that’s all that matters.
So while I admittedly do not have all the answers, from one young adult to another, here’s what I’ve learned/what I’m doing to make myself feel more organized + at peace with my finances.
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FINDING PEACE WITH YOUR FINANCES
BUDGETING IS KEY. This really isn’t a foreign concept, but finances can feel a lot more complicated and stressful when you don’t have a plan. I would try and outline my budget in my planner, but it would usually turn into a lot of erasing or white-out whenever I needed to reallocate money to certain funds for a paycheck. It wasn’t until I started using Excel that I really felt more in control because it was so easy to plug numbers in and rearrange if need be. Here’s a FREE download of my budgeting template!
DOWNLOAD THE FREE, PRINTABLE SPREADSHEET: The Southern Sooner – Budget Template
Here’s how I use the template:
- Adjust the date to the paycheck date
- Adjust paycheck amount. I get paid biweekly, but if you’re on salary and get paid the 15th + last day of the month and it’s not always consistent, I suggest always low-balling how much you think you’ll get on that paycheck. It’s easier to assume you’re going to make less than to assume you’re going to make more. Make sure you have enough to pay for your necessities! If you get more money than you were expecting, you can just add it to existing expenses, save it, or treat yourself a little bit.
- Amounts in the “actual” column will automatically calculate in the “total” and “remaining” rows.
- Simply copy + paste the budget part (not my notes) down a few cells to budget in advance (especially if you know of any upcoming expenses)
USE A CASH ONLY PLAN. You could do the same thing but as a cash-only plan or “envelope” plan. Being able to visibly see your money and how much you have for a particular category will help keep you from overspending. Money that’s left over in each budget at the end of the month is yours to keep, whether you want to spend it, save it, or use it to pay off any debts. The choice is yours, but make sure you’re choosing wisely. I personally would use this method if it wasn’t for the fact that so many things these days are taken straight from my bank account (a blessing and a curse, truthfully).
FOCUS ON GETTING RID OF DEBT. To put it simply, debt sucks. Especially when it’s in the form of loans or credit cards that accrue interest. That interest is money that should be yours – and the longer you wait to do something about that debt, the more of that money that should be yours to keep is going to someone who’s not you. Boo. And I mean, overall, that amount you’re having to put towards that debt in the first place is money you could be keeping – whether it be in savings or something fun you could be doing for yourself. The sooner you get it paid back, the quicker that money is yours again, and the less money you have to throw away on interest. If you have the funds during the month to be able to apply more towards the payment than just the minimum, take advantage of it.
SAY “NO,” AND REMEMBER IT’S TEMPORARY. I went to a young adult retreat with my Lifegroup in September where we had breakout sessions about topics young adults generally take interest in. I attended one that was about finances – and the biggest take away for me was that sometimes you have to say no. If you know you don’t have the budget left to go to Starbucks, say no. It might suck and take a lot of will power, but the strength comes when you remember that it’s temporary if it’s a matter of you getting your debts paid. When you get those debts paid off, that money becomes yours again.
HAVE A “GIVING” BUDGET. One of my favorite quotes is “no one has ever become poor by giving.” I haven’t been the best about giving in the past, but this year I wanted to change that. I set aside a portion of my paycheck that can go towards a variety of things – church, people, investing in friendships (either monetarily or simply feeling financially able to give my time to someone), gift giving – I don’t really put a cap on it in terms of what it can go towards, as long as it feels appropriate. I don’t believe in giving for the idea of receiving something in return, but I do believe honoring the fact that God is the one who blesses us with our incomes in the first place and investing into His children provides a lot of freedom in terms of our finances. Plus, it truly feels good to give, assuming our hearts are really in it and for the right reasons.